Wildflower Windows

In April, the Sweet Pea Embroidery design company had their “KISS” – Keep it Simple Sew along challenge. The offered pattern is discounted during the sew along to participants. There is a deadline to submit your finished project photo on the Facebook group. The pattern was called Wildflower Window Cushion and was available for hoops from 4×4 to 8×8. I chose to stitch out the 8×8 blocks. I used my Janome 11000 to do all the stitching.

The block pictured below has so much texture in the embroidery and lots of thread changes too. The white background, and the batik green around it are supposed to be the window pane and frame.

working on all the steps

Once it comes out of the hoop, you trim the stabilizer back to the outer stitching line. After that is done, you trim the frame to 1/2 inch from the stitching. This gives you good seam allowance without so much bulk. During the stitchout, the batting is trimmed back as well.

There are 40,243 stitches in this block and my machine shows that the time it should take, at 600 stitches per minute was 114 minutes. That doesn’t account for the time for thread changes, trimming etc. I figure it took me about 3 hours.

FIRST block finished
Ready to trim
trimmed up block
All trimmed up

I decided to go “scrappy with my window frames”, using some batiks from the scrap drawer.

Another block finished
Block 2 with the red poppy

The blocks with the applique like the red poppy didn’t take as long to stitch. I layered a tulle over the fabric for the flower on the left, and it added a shimmer and dimension to the flower.

I was on a pretty good roll by the time I got to the 3rd block. It was another applique block so it went pretty fast.

growing some flowers
Block 1 Wildflower Window Cushion
46,403 stitches – machine time 130 minutes – 17 thread changes

Once everything was all stitched out, I arranged the “windows” for assembly.

4 completed blocks Wildflower Window Cushion

When I assembled them, I decided to add a narrow strip of sashing between all 4 blocks, and around the outside. Once I put the envelope backing for the pillow on, I stitched about 1″ in from the edge to make a bit of a flange. I stuffed the project with an 18″ pillow. I used all scrap batik for the project, including the backing.

Sloppy photo...envelope back

Finished project with some mods

I figure overall, it took me about 12 hours to make this project, using up about 1 1/2 yards of scrap fabric. Fits just right in this rocking chair.

Finished Wildflower pillow

I loved the pattern so much, I stitched out 2 more blocks and made them into placemats for my friend, June, who lives in assisted living. I think they will make a nice Mother’s day gift for her, and replace the fall placemats that are currently on her table.

Placemat for June

All the fabrics came from the scrap bins and June’s box of fabric. I had fun with the variegated thread on the flower edges.

2nd Placemat for June

The fabric for the borders and backing were leftover twill from making a couple of aprons last year. I thik they will make great “reversible” placemats.

Back of Junes placemats
backside of June’s placemat

I think I got my monies worth for the pattern and used up some scraps as well. I’m counting a total of 1 yard of fabric “out” for the Stashbuster 2022 challenge.

Tally up for the #STASHBUSTER 2022 Challenge – 2 1/2 yards out for the month. Nothing new in. Cumulative 16 1/2 yards out, year to date.

Are you having any fun with machine embroidery or the Stashbuster challenge?

Easter week at Lake Gaston

We had a family trip away for Easter week, but were disappointed with the cool damp weather which hampered recreation plans! My daughters booked a “VRBO” (Vacation Rental By Owner) again on Lake Gaston NC. This year we were on the North side of the lake. The house was spacious, 3 levels of living / bedroom space, and plenty of room for 11 people. We had a great location to sit and ponder the water views. The first two days and the last couple of days we could sit out on the dock and enjoy the water views.

I did enjoy wandering around the yard and admiring the plants. The blooming azaleas were at their peak.

NC Azeleas
Enjoying the garden
I loved seeing everything in bloom

Like last year, we brought our bicycles along. This year, just the hubby and I went out for a ride one afternoon, on the Tobacco Heritage Trail. We went to La Crosse VA where we had been once before and rode about 3.25 miles round trip. Neither of us had been on our bikes since last fall, so a short trip was all the old geezers could manage.

La Crosse bike trail
La Crosse VA at the Tobacco Heritage Trail

On the worst of the rainy days, we ventured to South Hill Virginia and visited a model railroad display at

South Hill Chamber of Commerce
Detailed model railroad display in South Hill
Very detailed display showing the history of the town

The chamber and HO train display were in the old train depot in downtown South Hill. It was fairly obvious to us that a lot of time and effort had gone into the display, and was well funded. It’s worth a stop if you are traveling in the area, and you have a rainy day to contend with. Our other stop that day was to Rosemont of Virginia Winery. We were pleased they could accommodate us without a reservation on that very rainy day. If you are planning a visit, I would recommend making that reservation.

Wine bar at Rosemont of Virginia
beautiful wine bar

There were high top tables and comfortable seating in the bar area, and a couple of other rooms that were filled with small groups.

Comfortable seating for the hubby
The Dry Side Flight
The dry side flight

Food for snacking was available, but we had just come from lunch in South Hill. The flight prices are on the website. I found it to be very reasonably priced, and the wine (all 4) were lovely. I brought a bottle back to our VRBO to enjoy as well.

As a side note; our VRBO was well off the beaten path, so lots of side roads were traveled going to and from the lake. We passed this place twice, and I was ready with the camera the second time. I always love interesting “roof decor”. Since we were on a back road, I asked the hubby to “slow down” a minute so I could shoot a photo. No shooting of animals of course!

rooftop decor
Roof top decoration makes me laugh

This year, I chose to not bring my featherweight sewing machine. There really wasn’t anyplace that I could comfortably set up and not be in the way, so I am glad I left it at home. I did bring my English paper piecing, also known as the never ending project. I have things kitted up and ready to travel and I managed to sit & stitch one double diamond. Even with this project, there really was no good place to work. The one room with good lighting, a quiet sitting room at the entry of the house, only had two comfortable chairs, and were often in use by others. So once I finished my little project, I packed my sewing bag away. I will be working on these double diamonds for a few more years if I am going to get a quilt made. I probably have about 30 or so done and need close to 100 for a queen size quilt.

Finished a double diamond
English Paper piecing 1″ hexi’s

When the weather cooperated, we did enjoy the view from the deck and the dock.

Enjoying the view
dockside view
lots of nice loungers on this dock

Springtime along the East Coast has been very cool overall, and wet. I’m looking forward to our next trip which will take us someplace much warmer! More about that later.

How did you spend April?

Hearts of Hope Sewalong

In March I shared with you my small wall hanging that was done following a Pat Sloan pattern and a pattern by Oleksandra Derenovska.

Someone suggested in the comments of that post that I take a look at what Bonnie Hunter was doing on her page, and I found the Hearts of Hope Sewalong. This sew along is taking place between March and April and it is NOT too late to join in. The pattern offered by Bonnie Hunter comes with a recommendation for a donation to a charity supporting Ukraine. Be sure to get the directions weekly if you are interested. The pattern is going to come off the Quiltville blog at the end of the sew along.

Many who follow my blog know that I love all things Bonnie Hunter. I’ve done lots of mystery quilts and made several of her patterns over my quilting years.

I started this project last week, and worked on it off and on while my embroidery machine was running full speed. So far, I have 6 blocks completed and trimmed to 6 1/2″. I have a big collection of phone books in various sizes to use for foundation papers. I have LOTS of blue “strings” to use, and have started pulling yellow and gold out of my bins too.

Hearts of hope sewalong

I’m not sure if I am making 49 blocks, but I am enjoying the string piecing part of the project. I may end up making a table runner or a small throw. Who knows??

What are you working on this week?

#QuiltersForUkraine

Tulips in the Field

My spring project done on my Janome 11000 embroidery machine is finished.

I downloaded the pattern from Sweet Pea Embroidery Designs for this project. I participate in their monthly Facebook group challenge, and they offered a nice discount if you used the coupon code found in the group. As the month of March progressed, I kept seeing all the great projects being posted. I got on board a little late in the challenge to participate for the prize, but did get the discount.

As I have said before, you know when you use a Sweet Pea design with multiple panels/blocks, that it is going to take you some time, but it will come together very well. You may remember my posts about that Knitting bag or the Casserole Carrier from a couple of holiday posts.

I knew before I started where I wanted this project to be hung, and what my size limits were going to be. I selected the 7×7 block and used my 8×8 hoop on my Janome 11000 machine. Hubby and I scrolled through pages of completed projects on the Facebook group, and we both agreed that we liked the projects that didn’t use a white background fabric. We both agreed that a light blue would really make the tulips stand out. Hubby does have a good eye for these things and I like to get his buy-in since we are going to hang this in our home.

There were 8 blocks in the project, and I started by cutting the batting squares for the blocks and making a big stack. Then I dug out my little plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, and started selecting pieces in my scrap drawers. The drawers are arranged by color and I picked a variety of fabrics, for the tulips and the leaves. Once the bits were ironed, into the little baskets they went, ready to be used. Some of my blue back ground fabric came from the scrap drawers and some came from the “yardage” bins. I used 3 different fabrics in my backgrounds. It was fun picking the “right” fabrics for each of the tulips and I did my best to keep the green fabrics straight. The leaves and the stems continue through the blocks.

First two blocks done
Block 1 & 2

Block # 1 & 2 were really the hardest to do. When I am working on a machine embroidery project, I like to “pick my colors” for both thread and fabrics, and keeping them straight for the subsequent blocks was important. The block in the photo above on the left had 3 background fabrics , 3 leaf fabrics and multiple colors for stems. I use a “grid” to keep my threads straight. I label the “name” of the thread and set the spool in the grid box. (My machine might call for “pine green”, and give a number, but I might use something completely different on the first run, so I want to make sure that I always use the same thread when it calls again for “pine green”).

block 3 in progress
Block 3 in progress

Essentially, when you work on this pattern, you start off with a batting square tacked down on your cutaway stabilizer, then you trim to the tack down line. 48 steps later you finish the block. My machine kindly tells me how many “minutes” of actual stitching time. I am set at 600 stitches per minute speed. Almost every block in the pattern had 40+ steps and at least 60 – 70 minutes of stitching time. That doesn’t take into account the time to do any of the trims, color changes etc. On average, each block took 2 1/2 – 3 hours total to create.

Working through a block
3 backgrounds in Block 4

You can see in the photo above, there are 3 background fabrics in this one block, stems that connect with the block above and below, and leaves that connect below as well. All those curvy bits were trimmed after tack down stitches were done. Applique duck bill scissors and those curve tipped snips really help in trimming while the block is still “in the hoop”.

block # 4
Block 4

You can see how the stems look like they go “through the block” in Block 4. The larger tulip has about 5 fabrics in it. (Remember this is a 7×7 block total size). Using scraps for the flower petals was great, and pulling a big variety of colors to start with helped. I starch the scrap pieces pretty well before I cut the size I need for the petal. The starch helps you get a cleaner trim. It was a challenge finding scraps “big enough” to use for the leaves in the first 4 blocks.

It took me 5 days to get this project completed. I worked 3-4 hours each day on it, and found it fun to watch it grow.

First 4 blocks completed
First 4 blocks completed

As I made progress through the blocks, I kept the other blocks laid out on the nearby cutting table and kept in mind the fabric choices made on previous blocks while I selected colors and fabric for the next block. All in all I think I struck a nice harmony. Many of the fabrics make an appearance more than once.

All 8 blocks made
all 8 blocks made

Once the blocks were all stitched and trimmed, the assembly of the blocks took place. The 68 page PDF booklet of instructions had you join them in rows. I did that, but had trouble lining up the vertical stems. I ended up taking them apart and joining them in 2 columns for a better transition.

joining the blocks
Joining the columns

I had better success this way, using pins to locate connection points and easing the pieces in together. There are only a couple of spots where the join isn’t as satisfactory as I would like, but overall I am pleased with the final project. I added a layer of very high loft poly bat between the top and the backing to give it a softer look. (There was cotton batting in each square during the embroidery process). I did “quilt in the ditch” between the rows and down the center, and around the edge to secure the batting and backing. I did deviate from the instructions a bit with the method for backing and binding. I dislike backing that is pulled to the front and used as binding. I am not confident in the method and I chose to make my own binding

Overall, a nice project. I also put a hanging sleeve on the back instead of tabs, and it slid quite nicely on my 12″ hanger. The overall dimensions are 14. 5″ x 28″.

Tulips banner

I decided to stitch out a label for the back on the embroidery machine while I was working on the binding. Of course, I used my favorite method, “Susie’s Magic Binding”. I use that type binding almost exclusively, as I hate to hand sew binding, and I like the piped edge.

Label for the project

I got the label hand stitched on and the hanging sleeve stitched down! Project complete, banner hung!

Tulip wall hanging
Hanging in the archway between the dining room and living room

I love hanging things in the archway between our dining and living room. This was a fun project to make and I love how it turned out. I’m really glad I went with the blue background as well.

Now, for the all important #STASHBUSTER “yardage in / yardage out” count during March. I count this project as 1 yard for background fabrics and backing, 1 yard for the assorted leaves, flowers, binding, for a total of 2 yards. Thanks Carole https://frommycarolinahome.com/2022/03/04/stashbusters-challenge-march/ . Keeping track, one project at a time with using up my stash.

So, I have a fall wall hanging, now a spring wall hanging, and last month I finished my beach project. Must be time to get restarted on that Lori Holt Christmas Quilt project. I have a lot of the blocks made, but have big ideas for a setting and there are a couple more blocks to make to get the size I want. Hey, a project in progress for two years has lots of parts. It’s fun to finish up these smaller projects in under a week, so I feel like I have accomplished something, before I dig in on a long haul project.

What are you working on in your sewing / crafting zone?

We all come from “somewhere”

It seems in America that we all “come from somewhere” else. My family comes from many places, but on my father’s side, they were called “black Germans”. As a kid, I never understood. You see, my father’s family came from an area near the Black Sea. They were “resettled” Germans in the mid 1800’s, who left Germany and went to the frontier at the bequest of the Russian Czar to repopulate an area where the population had been decimated during war time. There is a long history of Germans, living in what was then Russia. There are many articles about the why’s and how’s, but essentially, they were offered land and were able to resettle and build communities (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_Germans ).

Growing up, I knew that my father spoke German as a young child until he went to school. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I understood that his heritage came not from Germany, but from somewhere else. My paternal grandparents were both born in the area of Odessa (Russia) Ukraine.

A wonderful history of the family was prepared by one of my paternal aunts, and she wrote the following about my Grandfather, Adam Lingor. “Adam was born 20 miles north of Odessa, Russia in a small German settlement called Josephstal Grosliebenthal. When they lived in Russia, their last name was spelled Lingore and when they came to the United states the E was dropped. The family immigrated to the United States and arrived May 17, 1900 on board the SS Kaiserine Maria Theresa. It took about nine weeks to cross the ocean and one of Adam’s brothers died of diphtheria on the ship. They settled in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Other relatives also came on the same ship but they settled in North Dakota.”

My Grandmother, Josephine, was very young when she came to the United States. My aunt wrote the following – ” Josie was born March 12, 1898 in Kleinlibenthal, Groslietenthal just outside of Odessa, Russia. In 1901 Josie and her family immigrated to the United States and docked at Staten Island, New York. The came to America because they couldn’t practice their catholic religion in Russia and also because the Russians were drafting men into their army. They traveled steerage to America and the trip took about nine weeks and was very uncomfortable because they were so crowded. From New York they took the train and traveled west not knowing where to go and finally stopped at Onaka, South Dakota.

Many Germans in Russia were leaving in the late 19th century, as restrictions on their practice of religion and military conscription, and much more were happening. Settlements in the central United States were opportunities for immigrants, as well as in Canada.

As we move forward a full century, plus a few decades, my thoughts go to my father, a first generation “German from Russia”. Looking back on the stories, I now better understand the challenge a child who only spoke German in the home, until he went to school. My grandparents raised 9 children in a home with an outdoor privy, and it wasn’t until my father was in his 20’s that they had indoor plumbing. My grandfather had a 4th grade education, and my grandmother went as far as 8th grade. Those grandparents made certain their children were raised in the church, they were educated beyond their own limited education and given the opportunities that America offered. My grandfather, an immigrant from Odessa, served the US Army during WWI, and my father, a WWII veteran was in the Army Air Corps. There are stories of my dad, being a tail gunner in a B52, and of being one of the few that could still speak a few words of German. He carried shrapnel in his legs his entire adult life. America gave him the opportunity to be educated, and he spent his life teaching in public schools. His brothers and sisters all worked in jobs of service to others, from Bureau of Indian Affairs to the local Fire Department to working at the local hospital as a nurse.

So today and in the last 3 weeks, I think about my family heritage. My cousin Vicky and her daughter Lisa helped me with filling in some of the blanks with dates.

It may have been Russia from where my grandparents came, but for nearly 30 years it has been Ukraine. I wanted to honor the struggles of the immigrants that left the Black Sea region, and emigrated to America. And I want to honor the Ukrainians who have built a democracy in the last 30 years, and are standing strong to fight for their country.

On March 1, 2022, Quilter Pat Sloan designed a quilt block and asked quilters around the world to help the children of Ukraine. Quilters Stand for Ukraine is a fund raiser, where individuals donate to UNICEF to help the children of Ukraine. The pattern for the quilt block below is available at that link.

Double Saw Tooth Star for Ukraine
#QuiltersStandForUkraine

Many quilters around the world have contributed, and at last look over $180,000 has been raised thru contributions to UNICEF. On the link above, Pat Sloan tells you about other ways to help as well. She makes reference in her post to Becky Petersen, who is “boots on the ground” in Poland doing AMAZING things.

When I made my block, I decided that I would hang it on my door which has a large window. I decided to make it two sided, and to find a way to honor my grandparents heritage.

I chose a pattern from Sashas Quilts (Oleksandra Derenovska) called Rise of Freedom. Her design is quite simple, and to be honest, I purchased it after I made my version. I want to support the designer, but I did not paper piece the one you see below. In my case I used 2″ squares for the project, (except the half square triangles).

Peace for Ukraine

What I loved about her design was what she wrote ” When I sewed my flag, I thought about my Motherland. Now this flag became a very great symbol of freedom and independence so beloved by me and each citizens of my country. I believe you will have fun sewing this quilt block. Looking at him, you will remember the struggle of my people for their identity and know that if we join together, we can turn the world upside down. I will always remember these days and the solidarity of the whole world towards my country.”

And I added some information about my paternal grandparents and their heritage at the bottom. i contemplated using the Ukrainian word for PEACE which is мир , but thought it worked better for my purpose to put it in English. I used my Janome11000 embroidery machine for the words on this project.

I hung it on my door, on the inside of the glass to protect it from weather.

Peace for Ukraine
#RiseOfFreedom
Double Saw Tooth Star
#QuiltersStandForUkraine

There isn’t much, as an individual we can do, sitting here in North America, but the power of groups of people is amazing. Look for ways to help on Pat Sloan’s blog. Look for Becky Petersen’s blog & website QUILTED TWINS . Becky is doing amazing things in Poland, and her twin,  Rachael, who runs the fabric store is helping from this side of the Atlantic. You know you can be confident that they are “real people” when someone like Pat Sloan has suggested them. (I’ve been following Becky in Poland on her blog for at least 6 years!) I love what Becky said at the end of this week’s blog post “On a macro scale, it seems like we can do little, but on a micro scale – in our little part of the world – we can make a difference.

Sending prayers for PEACE / мир .

To the Nines finished

I am checking off another “FINISH” this month! Last October, my blogging friend, Carole Carter came to lecture and teach at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild in Lewes Delaware. When Carole came to visit, I wrote about her presentation and class here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/10/07/meeting-a-fellow-blogger/

I took the class and we made the pattern she calls “To the Nines”. Carole writes a blog called From My Carolina Home . Do go check her her blog out. The pattern is available for purchase on her blog.

Last week, I was digging through my bin of blue fabrics and found a couple of pieces of yardage that went nicely with my To The Nines project. It felt great to take it down from my design wall, where it had been patiently waiting for a finish.

To the nines

I added a 2.5″ white border all around and a 5″ blue border as the final border.

Finished To the Nines
50 x 50 throw To The Nines

I had to piece the backing but that helped use up some stash too.

backing for To the Nines
Backside of Two the Nines

I quilted with Superior thread (Fantasastic 5021, 50 wt) in the color areas, and with Superior Bottom line SILVER in the white areas. I used a wavy stitch that I stretched to its longest size for the quilting. I think those wavy stitches in my border are making the whole border look wavy, but a good washing will help.

The finished quilt is a nice cozy throw size, 50 x 50. I used poly bat inside so it is a little puffy, but soft. Now, I just need to make a label this week and get it stitched on, then decide what to do with it.

For my “fabric out” count I will put 4 yards on the list for March.

Time to pull out another UFO to finish off. Do you make projects without an “end plan” just because you took a class or saw an interesting pattern? I will hang on to this one until after our April guild meeting show & tell, and then decide if it is a keeper or a gift.

Cruise adventures

PHOTO intense blog!!!

You might remember my post a couple of months ago about cruising and the CDC. I did cruise in January of 2022 and had a fantastic time. We followed all the “CDC” protocols and felt perfectly safe the entire trip. As I said in that previous post, cruising felt safer than shopping at the big box store. Three of the ports we were going to had strict restrictions for cruise passengers, allowing us to only disembark on a ship tour, and maintain a “cruise bubble”. This was for our safety as well as the safety of the island residents. Everyone on the cruise was vaxed, tested, and some were boosted, so I doubt we were going to cause any problems on shore.

Side note – in January,2022, many cruise ships had to cancel various ports as their C-19 count on board was too high. While America was have 25-35% positivity rates, the cruise industry had less than 3%. Our ship got into EVERY port. That meant we had less that the number local governments were concerned with. As I write this, protocols are continuing to change, both in our state, and in cruising. Yes, I will cruise again, soon.

I flew to Fort Lauderdale and spent the night prior to the cruise in a hotel and shuttled over to the cruise port. Boarding the Enchanted Princess was fast & easy using the Medallion app. A quick document check and we were onboard before noon. My sister had reserved a handicap accessible cabin and I did a “video tour” if you are interested. Ours was a balcony cabin and I was surprised at how large it was, compared to a standard balcony. Plenty of storage and lots of room for a disabled person to move around in the cabin and on the balcony.

Next stop was a drink on the Lido deck!

Welcome aboard margarita!
Nothing better than an icy drink on the Lido deck of a cruise ship!

Before I sailed, I booked excursion in many of the ports. This was a 10 day cruise, and I was ready for fun, adventure, and sun! (It had been snowing at home and I was already sick to death of winter).

Cruise Excursion Jan 2022

Whenever I go to the Caribbean I make a point to “get in the water” if possible. January is best if you go to more southern ports for warmer water. With the exception of Antigua and St Lucia, I got into the water in each port. In St Lucia, I went ZIP LINING and that was the most fun I ever had….ever!

Our first stop was Princess Cays in the Bahamas and I made a beach day out of it. The water did take some getting used to, and the air temp was in the low 80’s. I played around with my little action sport camera there. It was fun to use, taking it under water while I snorkeled. There is a HUGE learning curve with these little action cameras, and between fins, masks, life jacket, goggles, snorkel AND camera, I was overwhelmed slightly trying to manage all the stuff and use the camera. I dumped my fins back in my lounge chair, adjusted the camera slightly, and kept at it. The water at Princess Cays is so darn clear. I chose to head to the quieter end of the beach where I had been in previous trips for my adventures.

AATP0199 under water
not too many fish in this area.
AATP0229  Princess Cay
Absolutely crystal clear water. I was standing waist deep in this photo.
ANMP0233  Drink Time
You could use your “drink package” on Princess Cays

I spent several hours on the beach and then had a break for an adult beverage and some people watching.

I snorkeled in St Thomas and we swam at Honeymoon beach. The current was a challenge for me at Buck Island where we snorkeled, but in the cove at Honeymoon beach it was fantastic. I have a waterproof bag for my phone and the video below is from my cell phone. We were enjoying just floating around with a plastic cup of rum punch in our hands.

In Dominica I did an excursion with a city tour, then to a waterfall and then to the beach.

Dominica city view
Such a pretty view up the hills in Domenica

The road to the waterfall is honestly the worst ride I ever took on a tour bus in my life. The ride took way more time than the time allotted at the waterfall, so I was disappointed. The hike was easy, and really, we didn’t have “enough time” to see the waterfall, or swim at the base.

waterfall in Dominica
Waterfall from a distance
lower platform for viewing waterfall

The lush vegetation made the trip up the mountain worth the trip.

IMG_20220123_130617257 Lush greenery

And knowing we had to go back down the mountain on the same road left me wondering why I ever booked this adventure. The description should tell potential customers that the roads are terrible, and it is an easy hike, instead of warning us of the “difficult hiking terrain”.

Bumpiest bus ride ever

The views were great, the time at the beach was nice, but the food opportunities were seriously lacking. The beach was black sand, and you need your beach shoes/water shoes.

IMG_20220123_144940547_HDR  Black Sand Dominica
Black sand beach in Dominica

The water of course was fantastic. It was a relaxing end to the day after that crazy long bumpy bus ride.

Barbados is my FAVORITE beach island. The sand is like fine sugar. Because it is (was) one of islands where the local government required you to stay in a “cruise ship bubble” we had to take an excursion. We went to a place called Harbor Lights. The beach was great, the service good and nice facilities. I would recommend a beach day at Carlisle Bay. My friends on board wanted to go to “The Boatyard Club”, which we passed on the way to Harbor Lights, but it wasn’t available for the “bubble”. NEXT time I will give it a try. Harbor Lights had a cute bar area, shower area and food available for purchase. We had lounge chairs and umbrellas, but were directed as a group on where to “sit”, for bubble purposes. The water was warm and relaxing. It was a great place to swim, and to chill out. Not a spot for snorkeling but great for easy entry and relaxing.

Barbados
Barbados

In St Lucia, I went ZIP LINING and that was the most fun I ever had….ever! This was a bucket list item, and my daughters reminded me, none to gently, that I wasn’t getting any younger! I’m so glad I went for it!

No, I didn’t get “in the water” but the water got in me! It absolutely poured all day long. I donned my poncho and made the best of it.

ANMP0243 Geared up and ready to go
Geared up and waiting to board the gondola

We rode a gondola up the mountain and got rained on the whole time.

IMG_20220125_134557711 On the Gondola
I had a front row seat on the Gondola, and the rain pelting in the entire 30 minute ride up the mountain.

We hiked down the mountain to the first of 10 platforms for the ziplining. In small groups, with 2 guides, we had a ton of personal attention. This was a first experience for me and it was absolutely thrilling.

I was “partnered” to a fellow from Connecticut, and you can see in the photo below that he was making the best of all the rain. Yes, we had to wear our masks, outside in the rain, the entire time. (Glad I left a dry one in my bag in the locker down below).

ANMP0257  Jim from Connecticut
Jim from CT was drenched but having fun. Hard to keep the water off the camera

The guides did all the work, hooking your harness to safety lines, and to both zip lines, and gave you a little shoulder push when you said you were ready. The guide at the other end slowed your speed down and brought you in to the next platform carefully, with no hard landings. I was a little nervous at the start but so excited and after the first run, it was obvious to me that it was extremely safe and I just smiled (behind my mask) the whole darn time.

If you can stand watching, this video is my “first line”. I had a wrist mount on my camera, and of course, was using my hands a lot, so there are lots of views that are of my shoes, and sideways etc. What you are watching is me on the first platform getting “hooked on” the line, zipping, then being stopped at the next platform. The guide on that platform sends a stop block out on the line to stop your descent and then bring you slowly into the platform. The first thing he did was hook a safety line to my harness, then disconnect me from both of the lines.

My first run on the zip lines

This next one is much easier to watch, and shorter. 🙂

On my next run I had the camera in better position

All the platforms had a sign that gave you information, height from the base of the forest, weight restrictions and distance of the next line. I didn’t think to take pictures of all of them, but did capture a couple.

ANMP0267 Platform 7
Platform 7, 205 zip length

Soaking wet and laughing was the tone for the day! The only “not fun” part of the day was hiking back uphill in the rain and mud to the gondola platform for the ride back down to the base. That part was tough, and hard work, climbing up hill. Overall, if you ever get to St Lucia, or any other place that “Rainforest Adventures” has ziplining, go do it! The employees are awesome, and the safety measures top notch!

The only island I did not disembark and take a tour on was Antigua, and I have to say, now I wish I had.

Antigua

I’ve been there before, and because it was such a port intense cruise, I felt I needed a break. I knew I would be a little tired after all the adventures, and I spent my day in the hot tub, on the back deck of the ship! The mountain hike with my zip lining trip was a serious workout.

Now, about the cruise – we were on the Enchanted Princess, a very lovely new ship with lots of technology. The best of that being we could use our Medallion App or our TV to order food and drinks for delivery wherever we were located. I spent my time onboard the ship going to performances in the Princess Theater and the various lounges, as well as going to see some of the fun game shows they have on the nightly schedule. The food, as always, was delicious and I made an effort to eat more fish this trip. Of course, I spend a lot of time walking the deck after dinner to work off the calories. During “sea days” it was nice to find a pool lounger and soak up some sun, or retreat into the shade after an hour or two. There were plenty of pools (4) and lots of hot tubs. The ship was about 50% capacity, and NOTHING was crowded. I won’t bore you with a lot of onboard photos, but will share one or two of my favorite views.

IMG_20220125_202902379 Infinity pool on the aft
Infinity pool at the aft of the ship

IMG_20220127_171039914_HDR cheers
cheers until the next cruise

And, naturally, cruising in January means coming home to this —

Screenshot_20220128-211047.png Weather at home
Snow and cancelled flights

With the snow in the forecast I reserved a hotel in Ft Lauderdale for disembarkation day, and knew well ahead that my flights were going to be impacted. I stayed an extra day and got home with no interruptions. It was a shock to my system coming home to the cold!

My next cruise is with my husband later in the spring, back to the Caribbean. I’ve already started planning our adventures for that trip! Fingers crossed most of the craziness in travelling with C-19 will be gone by the time we go.

What kind of fun is ahead on your radar? Would you go ziplining?

Quilting Fun New and Old projects and Stashbusting

Hello to everyone who regularly reads my posts. I’ve been busy with travel and planning travel, and I promise an update soon on my recent trip. I have managed to get back into my sewing room and want to share a bit of what has been “under my needle”.

I did a project in February, start to finish. If you followed me for long you know some projects will “linger” a bit. This project was called a MONDO Bag. The pattern is by Quiltsmart. The pattern (and some 2 1/2″ squares) was a thank you gift my dear friend Nancy gave me. It was just what I needed to boost my behind back into the sewing room.

I studied the pattern, then took out the squares, and considered them all, and also dug out my box of 2 1/2″ squares, and pulled out some more. I think the pattern called for almost 200 squares. I decided on bright cheery colors. The basics of the pattern require you to “fuse” your squares onto pre printed fusible interfacing. The printed interfacing has a grid plus lots of other information.

I used glass head pins to pin my pieces in place so they didn’t “move” while I was artfully arranging them. I was trying to make sure that I didn’t have the same piece in the next panel. Once you fuse the pieces to the interfacing you do the stitching of the seams. You can see how the panels decrease in size once the stitching is done.

Fused and stitched

This was the fun phase of construction. Once all my panels were designed, pressed, and stitched, I really had to study the directions again. I even emailed a friend who “taught” this bag at a guild sit & sew for advice. And, to make certain I understood, I resorted to You Tube, where I found the actual company, Quiltsmart, with videos along with others.

I got the outer bag panels assembled, and to my dismay I had “matching” pieces touching. Sigh…..

Assembly of the outer bag

Next up was the lining, pockets the handles and a key strap. The vote went to the bright fabric for this project. I decided to go with much wider handles that finished at about 2 1/2 ” wide. I hate to turn tubes, so I made them the way I would normally make a bag handle, putting some fusible fleece inside the handle, and top stitching. I also did two pockets inside. One is in a contrasting color.

Pockets on an angle
Finished Mondo Bag

So, all in all I enjoyed making this bag, and when I took it to my quilt bee in February, it inspired several friends to dig out their patterns and to work on theirs. I used fusible fleece inside of mine, as I had a bolt of it. Quick reminder was to change to a heavy duty needle (a 16 or 18) for the top stitching. It makes it so much easier!

I am counting fabric in & out of my sewing space and I will count this as 3 yards out, along with 1/2 yard in for those gifted squares.

My next project has become a “vintage” project, gathering dust on the shelf. I took a class called  Usin’ Fusin’ to Express Yourself!  in 2016 with Michelle Scott, The Pieceful Quilter after she lectured at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild. I wrote about that class here https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/another-fun-speaker-and-class/

At the end of the class, this is what I brought home –

Mary's underwater project OWQG class
circa 2016

I promptly “rolled it up” onto a cardboard tube wrapped in muslin and forgot about it because I was super busy with other projects.

Well….last week, I was finishing up some guild fabrics for Second Time Around and I tripped over a piece of pebbles fabric. Inspiration struck me and I need that 1/8th of a yard strip and pulled this project back out. I bought the piece of pebbles fabric and pushed aside what I was doing and added it to my panel from 2016.

Hidden away inside the panel roll was a packet of beachy buttons I had purchased at a show way back then. And, in amongst the goodies I received from Trish’s sewing room were packages of trims that got incorporated into the panel. I spent the last few days working on it and it is FINISHED and hanging in my living room. It took me 6 years to get around to finishing it, but only 3 or 4 days to actually finish it.

IMG_20220304_085559335

One thing I learned from Michelle Scott was that JUDGES hate messy quilt backs, and her trick was to “hide” all the messiness of the construction/quilting by “adding” another layer to the quilt after “most” of the quilting is finished. Well, adding all those couching threads and embellishments is messy work and I did just that. I finished the back with the same fabric as I had used when I made the sky. It was absolutely amazing to me that when I opened my bin of blues that fabric was there and had enough left to finish this project and squeeze out a binding too. Had to dig in stash for the contrasting piping color for the binding. So, for this project, 1/8 yard in, and 2 yards out!

Carole Carter has a “stashbuster” challenge going on at her blog this year – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2022/03/04/stashbusters-challenge-march/

I am working on blocks for a QOV for the Queen Bees, and counting my 10″ squares as ONE yard. The blocks are done, and ready to go for our March bee.

March Fabric IN = 3/4 yard
March Fabric OUT = 6
March Total = 5 1/4
Year to Date = 7 out

NOTE – I “inherited” a whole lot of stuff from a friend in assisted living who passed away (Trish’s trims) early in February and am still sifting through it all. From the standpoint of fabric, most never entered my sewing room upstairs in my garage. 98% is in boxes, waiting to be delivered to a Mennonite group next week. I have 2 smaller totes that I took up to my sewing room and have not sorted through them yet. Once I do, I will add to my “IN” fabric .

Are you working on any new projects or keeping up with something that has been aging for a while? What about keeping track of “fabric in and fabric out” ? It certainly feels good to get a UFO off the list!

Secret projects have been gifted

December is the month where I sew for gifts that can’t be shown on the blog until they have been gifted.

I’ve been sewing this month….a lot! I’ll share a few pictures now that the gifts have been opened.

A pair of table toppers, made using Moda Christmas fabric on the front and a heavier cotton twill fabric on the back. It gives the topper a little more weight, plus it makes it reversible for “after Christmas” if the recipient chooses. The pattern came from Carole Carter on her blog “From My Carolina Home“. She has several free patterns and this is the Hexagon Table topper.

Christmas table topper
Hexagon shaped table topper

I varied a bit from the pattern with the strip widths and chose not to do the really narrow strip. They were quilted in the ditch except that last round was done with two rows of wavy line stitching.

Aprons – One for the son-in-law, one for my daughter, and one for the granddaughter –

Dad sized apron for son in law
Dad apron
Vintage apron style on the dress form
Vintage style apron
Kid sized apron
child apron

After the aprons came the pajama pants making. This year each grandchild got TWO pairs of pajama pants. I ordered coordinating long sleeve tshirts to go with the pajama pants. The paw print pair is fleece, the rest are cotton flannel. Some of the flannel prints GLOW in the dark.

My grandson seemed to really like the pajama pants from last year, and he was one of the first to put on those “gaming fabric” pajamas on Christmas. I prewashed and preshrank all the fabrics for the pajamas and the aprons. I washed with color catchers and one of those dark colors had a lot of “excessive” dye, so I gave both mom’s a few color catchers, and ordered them each a box on Amazon for “future washing”. It’s so hard to say which color ran because I prewashed together, but this is what the color catchers looked like after fabric was washed.

prewashing dark fabrics
Color catchers did the job

I was apprehensive about sewing with the fleece, but it was actually easier! No seams to worry about overcasting and raveling in the wash. I use a stitch on my Janome 8900 that is like an overcasting stitch –

Overcast stitch for my flannel projects
overcast stitch

It seems to give a nice finish to the inside of the pajamas.

Overcast stitching
overcast stitch

I had a lot of fun shopping “pre-black Friday” with my friend Nancy. We hit a 60% off on flannel & fleece at JoAnn Fabrics and were able to find things to suit each kid, ages 5 – 9 – 11- 13. The apron fabric for the son-in law (Star wars) and one daughter (Harry Potter) were perfect. They really seemed to like it. The vintage style apron for my daughter was a royal pain in the neck, calling for 1/4″ wide double fold bias binding tape. I used the 1/4″ on the pockets and around the bottom of the skirt, but had to get 1/2″ for the front of the apron and straps. Oh, by the way….the brand at Hobby Lobby is only 3 yards in the pack, and the Wright’s brand at JoAnn’s is 4 yards…..just an FYI. My friend Nancy listened to me moan as I was making that vintage style apron…and suggested I shred the pattern!!!! I zipped right through the rest of the projects, but I have to say, I am very glad I did that vintage apron first, or it might still be on the cutting table. I pressed myself to finish, so I could get on with the rest of the Christmas sewing.

Now that the gifts are given, I need to get back in my sewing room and clean up the cutting table. I have the oddest amounts of left over fleece and flannel and will be looking for clever ways to use the bits up. Any helpful suggestions appreciated!

Hopefully your Christmas projects were received with smiles too.

Travel adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Last post I talked about the adventure in travel while flying and new requirements for cruising. This post is about the fun adventures I had in one port of call, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I sailed on the Grand Princess, beginning October 18, for a total of 18 days , 4 cruises. We went from San Pedro California to Cabo San Lucas on a 5 day cruise, round trip, then from San Pedro to San Diego California and Ensenada Mexico round trip for a 4 day cruise. We repeated each of those cruises a second time. This gave me an opportunity to try a variety of activities at each port of call.

On arrival in Cabo San Lucas Mexico for the first journey, I signed up for an excursion that was definitely a new adventure for me.

Booking through the cruise line, I boarded a bus that took me up the coast to a ranch, called Tierra Sagrada – Cabo Adventures, Todos los Santos, Playa Cerritos Sur Pecadero, Mexico. My adventure for the day was a CAMEL RIDE! Yes, a real camel!!

Camel ride Tierra Sagrado

Our camels were “tethered” together and we had someone walking along to make sure they behaved . Our ride was about 20 minutes long from start to finish, and there were lots of photo’s being taken by the resident photographer. I guess I was unprepared for purchasing the whole collection of photos, so I came away with just this one copy, but a lot of fun memories. I can officially say I was “kissed” by a camel, had an experience that I would encourage everyone to do! The excursion included a ride on the sandy beach and through the desert.

At the end, we learned a lot about the animals, and then took a nature walk thru the desert gardens to the restaurant, where we were served at a buffet some typical Mexican food. I really enjoyed everything I ate, and I also enjoyed the tequila tasting after the meal.

Meal at Tierra Sagrada Cabo adventures
Chicken Mole, pinto beans, caprese salad, green bean salad, broccoli, potatoes and a quesadilla

Chicken Mole is an interesting flavor, with a hint of chocolate. Some make mole with chocolate, and other recipes do not. This one was fairly rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy. I had not had Chicken Mole since I was in the 7th grade at a friend’s birthday party. All in all the food was delicious!

The tour company, Cabo Adventures did a great job with their facility out in the desert. Check out the offerings – https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/outback-and-camel-safari

My second visit to Cabo San Lucas was also just as much fun, but a lot more activity. The excursion was also with Cabo Adventures, and I went prepared to “buy the photo pack” ! This time I was booked on an Electric Biking Beach Tour. (https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/electric-bike-adventure)

We road out across the desert first and then back along the beach. These fat tire bikes could really get through the sand, especially with the electric motor the bike had. It was almost like riding a mini-bike. Out of our group, 2 ladies dropped out of the ride, as they didn’t feel confident or in control. I am overly cautious, and kept my speed down, so I didn’t spin out or spill. I got to see some video from one of the cruise ship employees on the ride when he spun out and crashed !. I think he was showing off for one of the dancers from the ship. I was without a doubt the only “senior citizen grandma” taking this ride, but I had a great time. This was much more “active” than the camel ride. They loaded us up with safety gear and we road for about 2 hours. It was definitely and adventure. It did take some “getting used to” riding these power assisted bikes. Other than starting off, you really didn’t have to pedal much, but as a person who rides bikes, it just came naturally for me to pedal. The bike had a throttle and a speed controller, and you could get going pretty fast. Laughing was part of the activity for sure.

This excursion included lunch and margaritas! While the meal may look the same, I made different choices, including ribs and a green salad.

Another wonderful lunch Tierra Sagrada Cabo Adventures

Our tour guide was making the margaritas, and liberally pouring them for us! It was a great way to relax after the exhilaration of the bike ride.

No visit to Cabo San Lucas can be without a view of the ARCH !!

The Arch in Cabo

Returning to the ship, I enjoyed some relaxing in the hot tub after the bike ride! Our ship stayed in Cabo overnight, and during the evening many people were out on shore, having dinner and enjoying the town. I pretty much had the pool area to myself!

relaxing on board

Early the next morning I got to see a wonderful sunrise from our balcony.

Dawn in Cabo

Little did I know there was a fishing tournament starting just past sunrise — promoted as “World’s Richest Tournament, the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament“, hundreds of boats were milling around near the cruise ship and the rocks.

boat fishing challenge

At one point, the boats all took off in various directions, as fast as they could go!

Heading out to fish

It’s a high-profile yearly event where competitors put down astronomical entry fees to lure a marlin big enough to take the jackpot.

Since our ship stayed anchored overnight, I was able to enjoy the view of the rocks, while eating my breakfast….million dollar view !

Breakfast in Cabo

My sister and I found a great spot on the back of the ship to hang out and visit for the morning and still have a view of “the rocks”.

Anne and Mary in Cabo

All said and done, our visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, both times was a resounding success.

Check back later this week for some of the action from San Diego and Ensenada.