Saturday, July 31, 2010

5 Days, 3000 KMs, a Thousand Memories, and a Million Laughs!

Plans to go to Halifax were nixed, and the boys voted that Hubby and I should go away on our own for a few days.  We left without any distinct idea about where we would end up...I was thinking a romantic (huh?) 2nd honeymoon in the Poconos, since our 10th anniversary is coming up soon.

So here's the trip diary.

Tuesday: Day One

I finished writing my final exam and got home at 5 p.m.  It took me longer than I thought to write the exam, because it was easier to come up with some bullshit answers than I expected I actually knew some answers!  I figured we'd leave bright and early the next morning, but NO!  The car was packed, and we drove until I couldn't take the anxiety of keeping nightblind Hubby between the lines we were too tired to go on.  So we spent the first night in Batavia, NY.

Wednesday: Day Two

I'm sure Batavia is a lovely place, though I couldn't tell in the dark, and as soon as we scarfed down our complimentary continental breakfast, we were on the road to Letchworth State Park.  We spent about 3 hours or so leisurely driving through; getting out from time to time to take photos, enjoy the scenery, and visit the museum on site.  I think I'd like to go back there again, and spend a few days in one of the cabins.

(That's me in the photo)

When we left the state park, we headed for Corning, NY to visit the glass museum.  I don't know what I was expecting....displays of Pyrex??  I was certainly surprised by the stunning modern art, and artefacts dating back 3500 years. I was amazed by the breadth of multiculturalism among the visitors as well - I heard Cantonese, German, Italian, and many other languages. 

A portrait of me, through glass! 

I trod carefully over the glass bridge to see the glass blowing demonstration.
Somehow, the idea of walking on glass freaked me out a little.

Next stop: The Poconos! some of us didn't know there was a big race this weekend? In fact, we were treated rather shabbily when we had the nerve to inquire regarding accomodations on Wednesday evening at certain hoteliers (didn't we know they were all full up for the race this weekend???!!!)!  By the time we got settled in a dump a fine chain motel, had our supper at 9 p.m., and returned to our room - - romance in the Poconos was out of the question. I can't even remember the name of the town we stayed in.

Thursday: Day Three

Burned rubber getting the hell out of wherever we were We were off bright and early to our next destination: Nazareth, PA. Our intention was to make a tour of the C.F.Martin factory to see the guitars made there.  Okay...if you are ever in the neighbourhood - - just GO!  The town is the prettiest place, everyone we met there was so friendly, breakfast at the Nazareth Diner was soooooo good, Barbara at the Naz. Visitor Centre was a doll, Gail and Liz at the old Martin factory (where they construct kits for hobbyists to build their own guitars from Martin 2nds pieces).

The museum has only been open since 2004, and is incredibly well done. 

Funny, we were listening to "Unplugged" in the car at the beginning of our trip Tuesday evening!

Just outside of the museum, there is an area where you can take a Martin off the wall and try it out. 

There is a long, long wall of album covers with a Martin in the art/photo. 
This is just part of the wall! (Also outside the museum)

Hubby and I agreed that we were running a ragged pace, and that THIS night, we would be stopping early, and treating ourselves to a very nice place to spend the night.  So, it was off to Lancaster County, PA!

The visitor centre in Lancaster is incredible, and the staff so helpful.  We were assisted in finding a lovely room in Bird-in-Hand, PA at the historic Ressler House, one of four properties that makes up the Bird-in-Hand Village Inn and Suites.  The Ressler House was built in 1858, and recently restored and updated.  It is drop-dead gorgeous.  We had a stunning room, with a King sized bed, a gas fireplace, and a jacuzzi. 

After checking in, and taking a wee rest, we went to dinner and then took a drive to nearby Intercourse, PA.  The village had practically rolled up the streets (it was nearly 8 o'clock for heaven's sake!) so we had a bit of a walk around, took some photos of horse poop and decided where we would like to visit in the morning. 

Back at the inn, we were served a bedtime snack in the main house -- all kinds of baked goodies, plus! -- but we only had room for a decaf coffee, and a chin wag with a couple from Virginia and friendly Lisa who was our hostess for the evening. (I stuck a peanut butter cookie in my pocket, in case I needed a nibble later!)

Friday: Day Four

After a lovely breakfast in the dining room at the inn, we left early to do a little shopping in Intercourse, and to visit the quilt museum there.  First stop, was a quilt store of course: The Old Country Store.  Upstairs in this 1880s structure is where the The People's Place Quilt Museum is located.  Go to the museum website to see photos, ours didn't turn out so great.

Then we were off to historic Gettysburg, PA. First, our bellies had to be taken care of, and a stop at the Farnsworth House Inn (1810) fit the bill nicely.

The house itself played a role in the battle of Gettysburg, as attested by 150 bullet holes in the brick:

We drove around the battlefields, stopped in at the museum, and then a moment of clarity struck us....who's idea was this anyway???  Hubby thought we were in Gettysburg because I wanted to see it, and I just went along for the ride because I thought he was itching to see it.... what the...???

While we respect the historical and social significance of the site, we're not American, so it's not a part of our heritage.  But before we made our exit, we did take a walk around cemetary hill, and then to Soldiers National Cemetery, the site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

It's difficult to name precisely the emotional experience of visiting this cemetery, seeing the rows upon rows of grave markers, some not much bigger than a common brick with just a number etched into it, marking the resting place of a man.  It was one of those peak experiences of unspeakable, indescribable, indefineable je ne sais quoi, and I think I can safely say that we are both glad to have not missed it.

We took a long evening drive, following mountain roads back and forth across the Susquehanna River, finally coming to a stop in Clearfield, PA.

Saturday: Day Five

A lovely drive through the Allegheny Mountains, a stop at the Duty Free, and home by mid afternoon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Night Sew In

So, I'm spending my evening (at least this early part of it!) doing a little sewing along with some 137 or so other quilter/bloggers.

So far, I've finished sewing the School of Rock rows together, attached the borders, and pieced together a backing.  All set to quilt!

(with Gibson CLEARLY being his very helpful self!)

Time to clear off my tables, and see what sort of mess I can make next!

Project Update

I thought I'd let you know how I'm doing on my Simple Abundance Project.

First: at my last weigh in, I was down 10.8 lb, but I reckon it's closer to 12 now.  I've done a few laps 'round Pinafore Park with my SIL this week, as she's joined a "Biggest Looser" competition among her colleagues.  I do wish she'd get up earlier though  - - it's damn HOT by the time she's ready to go!

Yesterday, Itty Bitty and I cleaned out three kitchen cupboards and took 2 boxes of dishes to the thrift store.  Naturally, all the plasticware went out the door, however, it was really difficult choosing which of my glass mixing bowls I would give up! But my cupboards look very nice and tidy more tossing in a dish, and slamming the door hoping it won't fall back out!

I went thrifting yesterday, and couldn't resist a completely unnecessary purchase.

I think these birds are a Canadian thing, so I expect that all my non-Canadian followers just went, "What the...?" and all my Canadian followers just went, "Ohhhhhhh yes!".  These tiny little fellows were given away in boxes of Tenderleaf Tea back in the 60's, and there are 30 of them in the series I think.  I already owned two -- #12 Cedar Waxwing and #17 Cardinal.  Last night I was suprised to see SIX at the local Goodwill store - and purchased four of them (there were three crows, so I picked the best one): #1 Robin, #22 Crow, #23 Yellowbellied Flycatcher, #28 Red Tailed Hawk.

Then I took a look at the books, and picked out three choices that certainly speak to some of the ideas I've been mulling about this summer:

"Yoga for Women" by Shaktua Kaur Khalsa:

(From Publishers Weekly) Khalsa, an accomplished yoga practitioner and teacher, instructs the novice in dozens of basic yoga positions (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayamas) and meditations from her own "harmonious blend of Hatha and Kundalini Yoga." Although there are over 200 postures in Hatha practice, Khalsa focuses on those benefiting women's concerns, among them menstruation, breast care, pregnancy, birth and menopause. Step-by-step instructions accompanied by color photographs allow even confirmed klutzes to manage sun salutations, Downward Dog, Crow and the Wheel. Readers are also tempted with recipes for drinks such as Golden Milk, made with the Indian spice turmeric, and beauty treatments such as the Papaya Face Mask or a yogurt bath. For those who need more encouragement to stretch their limbs, Khalsa includes testimonials by women who cite the life-changing powers of yoga. After browsing through the pages of Khalsa's accessible book, even the most yoga-phobic may be inspired to take a "position."

"In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honoré:

(From Mark Frutkin ) Honoré points out that the cult of speed has been with us since the Industrial Revolution, and it's getting worse, with businesses routinely expecting 60 to 80 hours a week from workers, young children with the schedules of high-powered executives, rampant road rage, and doctors who don't have time to listen to their patients. "Boredom ... is a modern invention," the author states. "Remove all stimulation, and we fidget, panic and look for something, anything, to do to make use of the time." But Honoré is no true-believer--he questions every aspect of the Slow movement and keeps coming up with the conclusion that it just makes sense: life in the slow lane is more enjoyable, more pleasurable, more humane. This is a remarkable book that should be read by every resident of today's frenzied urban world.

"The High Price of Materialism" by Tim Kasser:
(From Publishers Weekly:) Drawing on an impressive range of statistical studies, including ones that use his own "Aspiration Index," Kasser argues that a materialistic orientation toward the world contributes to low self-esteem, depression, antisocial behavior and even a greater tendency to get "headaches, backaches, sore muscles, and sore throats." While at first the book seems to retrace the steps of Juliet B. Schor's The Overspent American and other recent titles that analyze why many Americans feel driven and unhappy despite success, Kasser goes beyond this, showing how materialistic values shape an individual's orientation toward friends, family, work, death and "internal satisfactions." Of great interest are the studies demonstrating that children of divorce and people with "less nurturing" mothers are more likely to hold strong materialistic values (though some readers may protest that children of divorce simply feel more economically vulnerable than their peers). Drawing on sources as diverse as dream analysis and game theory, Kasser powerfully argues that when we as individuals or as a nation feel more vulnerable, we exhibit more sharply defined materialistic tendencies a theme particularly resonant in this era of terrorist threats, personal debts and corporate scandals.
But this is what I'm reading now:
I bet you're wondering what it was about this book that made me pick it up. I've always been fascinated by history (and British Restoration era in particular, ever since I read  "Forever Amber" when I was a (very precocious) girl, and morbidly curious about illness, medicine, and death (the ghoul/nurse part of me).
(From Publishers Weekly): British historian and editor Waller contrasts the 18th century with the 21st in this radiant book. She sketches London at the turn of the 18th century--when the city, poised between two worlds, hosted remnants of the medieval world alongside harbingers of the empire that was to come. London in 1700, she notes, was both growing more modern--industry was thriving, trade was expanding and the country had its first constitutional monarchs--and, simultaneously, suffering from old troubles, including high mortality rates, poor drinking water and rampant, unchecked disease. Similarly, at the beginning of the 21st century, she suggests, we are wandering among the survivals of the age that's just ended and the precursors of a world whose outlines we cannot yet see. The resemblance between the two eras gives a piquancy to the text, but even if there were no such correspondence, there would still be a great deal to praise in this very fine book. Waller has mined the archival record for fascinating details of 18th-century British marriage and childbirth, disease and death, home and fashion, work and play, religion and vice, crime and punishment, and she includes an exhaustive bibliography. Although the book's chapters (grouped into such topics as childbirth, marriage and disease)--despite a plethora of vivid anecdotes--never really cohere into a unified narrative, this rigorous, informative and entertaining text deserves a wide readership.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Snap Pouch -- I made it!

I used the cut-off triangles from the bag I made last night to make HSTs and then sewed them together to make a little pouch (about 5" by 4.5").  The top of it has pieces cut from a metal carpenter's tape measure in the casing, so that when you open the pouch, it will snap closed again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Itty Bitty Says It's Time to Update My Blog...

...what can I say?  It's been busy around here.

I made this bag tonight.  I need to stitch the top edge down, and maybe add some buttons to it, but it was fast and fun.  I used charm squares from the last package I received from Benartex -- the collection is  Wordplay by Michele D'Amore.

The pattern I based it on is called Scrappy Sack from .  I left off the zipper and the applique, but since it only takes 21 charm squares, I can see making this one again.  It's only 8" x 12" -- good size for a lunch bag, or a bag to hold your take along hand sewing projects.

Sailor Boy arrived home on Sunday evening.  After I write my final exams (one on Monday, the second on Tuesday afternoon) our plan is to drive him back out to Halifax.  We'll just sort of take our time, and take in some sights.  I'm looking forward to getting away.

I saw something REALLY neat recently - - you use pieces of a 3/4" metal measuring tape in the folded edge of the top of a bag and this will snap the bag open and closed.  Oh, I know I'm not explaining it right - - but it's on my list to give this a try, and see how it works out!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's been three weeks...

...since I started my weight loss plan, and I'm at a 9.6lb loss today.  Having said that...don't you hate weight loss blogs?  They start off really good, and then you realize...hmmm...this person hasn't posted for awhile... and then you realize they have fallen off the wagon.  I promise not to let this turn into a blog all about weight loss!!!  Just a comment on my Simple Abundance Project. 

Last night I went to yoga class again - and I think I'm falling in love!  We did a lot of hip joint work last night, and I was much less nervous, and got a little thrill when I could sink deeper into each pose with each breath.  So cool!  Early this morning, before it got very warm, I popped on my iPod, and went for a walk along the old L&PS tracks. It's a very pleasant walk, because it's level ground (to accomodate the trains that used to run along these tracks) it's shady, with lots of wildflowers, birds, and butterflies.

I didn't think I'd get ANY hexagon flowers done this week, because I was working on the binding of Lucky Stars, but I stitched three together yesterday during the drive Hubby and I took to Port Huron.

We went to price out flooring.  I want to take all the carpeting out of the house, and slowly replace it, room-by-room with bamboo hardwood.  I was surprised to find it was much more expensive in the US, even considering HST.

While we were there, I simply HAD to make use of my 40% off coupon at Mary Maxim's.  Hubby helped me pick out fabric for the School of Rock quilt.  With any luck, I'll get it sandwiched in the next week, and try my hand at machine quilting it myself. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's Inspiring Me This Week

Here are a few pages that I've recently torn out of magazines to inspire me (and maybe you too?)

First up, a vintage tin bread box turned into storage for needlework supplies.  I really enjoy looking at this picture, because I'm a sucker for vintage sewing notions, but the inspiration I have drawn from this is to use a different perspective when analyzing vintage items.  Instead of thinking about how I can conserve something, I want to be able to think of practical ways I can make my vintage treasures a part of my everyday life.

I'm inspired to create a similar quilt and perhaps cushions as well from repurposed shirts and white cotton sheets.  I've already begun making simple four patches as a 'leader-ender' project. have a pink or purple Featherweight!  I don't think this kind of a renovation will be within my, ever!...but another reminder that I could try to challenge my reluctance to make alterations to what I see as valuable vintage collectibles.  I should remember that their 'value' is determined by what the item means to me, and not determined by any other measure, by anyone else, and that by making permanent changes to an item, I am increasing it's value to me.

Besides, it's worth a visit to to see the red with white polka dots Featherweight!

I've been looking everywhere for grates like this one.  I have three exterior doorways that could use a doormat like this. No big hurry...just something to keep my eye open for.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  It's got me thinking about my Sailor Boy who is posted in Halifax.  He's coming home for a short vacation this weekend (though he hasn't confirmed the details with us yet) and we are seriously thinking about taking a few days and driving him back to Halifax. I've never seen houses painted like these around these parts, and I'm excited by the prospect of all the other things that I'll be seeing for the first time!  One is never too old for new experiences, is one?

With the Help of My Able Assistant...

...Gibson...I finished piecing together the rows for this quilt I'm making as a fund-raiser for Itty Bitty's school's music program.  There are a six fabrics, just shy of a total of 4 yards of fabric.

I based the idea on the Bits 'n Pieces pattern "Square Dance", which I had seen recreated on quilty friend Jacqui's blog (check out her taupe, black, orange and turquoise version - it's terrific!).  Here's the original quilt, as shown on the pattern itself.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How Was Your Weekend???

Friday, I did a little thrifting, and found a couple of treasures: two irons to add to my growing collection, and a vintage apron.  I couldn't resist the sewing notions print -- 60's era, you think??

Saturday morning, Hubby and I got a late start, but still went out for a little yard sale-ing.  The finds are getting fewer and fewer between as the season peters out.  I did buy three really nice houseplants for $1 each. I have dreadful luck with with living plants.  As soon as I bring one home, it gets depressed and suicidal.  But for a buck, I was willing to risk it all over again. 

Afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience of visiting the Horton Street Market, after a very long hiatus.  I used to go to the market with my mother many a Saturday morning to get farm fresh produce. It was better than I remembered, with lots of new additions, including Spicer's  and The Dutch Bakery. (I only gave these market stalls a deep and nostalgic whiff -- sticking to my weight loss plan!) and local craftspeople.  The produce vendors were selling only locally grown, seasonal, pesticide-free, and in some cases organically grown fruits and vegetables. I'm looking forward to making a visit to the market a regular weekly routine. Here's a link to market manager Tricia Herbert's blog.

Then last night?  ELTON JOHN CONCERT!!!  It was great, and I really enjoyed myself.

Today, Hubby and I went for a Sunday drive up to Lucan, to visit Lucan Architectural Salvage.  I saw an idea in a magazine to use old floor grates as outdoor door mats, so I'm looking for a couple.  No luck!  But a couple of doors down, I spied a little treasure at Mr. Haney's Market: a tiny little Beswick kitten figure, to keep my bigger Persian cat (also Beswick - paid a dime for it at a yard sale!) company.

This afternoon, I escaped to my bedroom and finished stitching down the binding on Lucky Stars.

It's been a good weekend for me! 
How was your weekend?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Truly is a Summer of New Experiences: Got some ink today

Itty Bitty and I have been planning this for weeks - and kept our designs secret from everyone.  His is a memorial tattoo for his father who died this past Valentine's Day.  Mine is slightly more complicated, but I know what it means to me.

I think Itty Bitty is going to think long and hard before he gets any more was a pretty rough afternoon!  Though it wasn't as bad as it was for the young man who came in to the shop while we were there for nipple piercings...oh my...THAT musta HURT!!!!!  He didn't look so hot when he emerged from the back room.  I reckon that back room must be sound proofed -- YOUCH!!!!!