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Mini Dresden Pinnie

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You know what happens when you finish a quilt, right? You immediately start planning a new one. I was very taken with the Dresden plate I put on the back of the quilt with no name. I had made one once before for the Scrappy Prism Quilt. I just love how they come together.  2019 is going to be the year of the Dresden plate for me. I think I’m going to do a scrappy quilt of bright prints. But before that, due to some poking around on Instagram, I got all inspired to also make Dresden plate Christmas wreaths (pillow or wall hanging), Dresden plate Christmas tree skirt, and a mini Dresden plate pincushion, as seen on @quiltyobsession ‘s page. Not only that she had a nice free downloadable pattern and tutorial. (Thank you @quiltyobsession !)
It was definitely not easy going back to work on Jan 2, but fortunately it was just three days until Saturday and I had dreams in my head of sewing up at least one Dresden something. Today was the perfect rainy Saturday to wake up early and fuss around with my fabrics.  I had planned to make my center be a gnome and then do cheerful reds or blues around it, but while I was revisiting my stashes of scraps I was, of course, drawn to all my pinks and greens. The template for the blade for this project was SO TINY. My goodness these were little. I pulled 9 pinks and 9 greens and cut them all out and stitched them up. I have to say that in general, proportionally speaking, I prefer a smaller center and a longer blade (or petal, if you will.) But I love how this came out. My plate lay flat, but I may have made my seams too narrow as I had to use a larger circle for the middle (which is fine, it allowed two adorable head to head cats, fussy cut from fabric I got for Christmas.)
I had also seen @quiltyobsession using her machine for a nice blanket stitch on hers and decided to experiment with my machine. Super cute! I had no idea my machine could do that!But……after a little while I decided I’d rather do this stitch by hand because I didn’t have great control and I thought that I might actually do a neater job than the machine (even though the machine obviously is better at making everything the same exact length) and I pulled it out. Since I did it by hand I chose to use 1 strand of bright pink embroidery floss. I love the finished look. When I put the center on I used my machine for a straight stitch. These are both changes for me as I typically hand applique with an invisible stitch. I like this finished look!
There was some quilting and then sides making and stitching it all together and stuffing. I probably could have stuffed better, but oh well. I still think it’s ADORABLE. You can’t quite tell from the picture but the pink on the side is a strip going around the side and then the bottom is the same as the top fabric. By the way, this was intended to be a gift, but how could I part with it? I love the colors and it’s so cute and cheerful.
Here’s the perplexing thing about this project: it’s simultaneously miniscule and huge. These Dresden petals are so tiny-look at them being pressed:

And it’s also huge-this looks like a small pillow, not a pincushion. Look how big it is in my hand!
A wonderful rainy Saturday project. I could see myself making many more. Or making three plates this size and appliqueing them to a rectangular pillow. See? Dresden is so versatile!

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Merry Christmas!

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What a lovely Christmas and Christmas season we’ve had! As usual things were kept pretty traditional. We had our cookie party, decorated our house in most nooks and crannies, delighted over our tree, added new ornaments from travels (from Chicago: a wooden Bean and a beautiful glass Chicago style hot dog), went overboard finding fun gifts and writing goofy revealing tags for them, baked a lot, ate sticky buns on Christmas morning, gleefully threw wrappings into a heap on the floor and let the dog lie down in it, and tried to remain in a holiday bubble for the days afterward.

As far as handmade Christmases went, this year I limited myself to making homemade hot chocolate mix (which is really delicious) and marshmallows for a few teachers and making amazing bookmarks. For the bookmarks I used a Christmas gift I got a few years ago-iron on vinyl. It’s for fabric and ideal for waterproofing pieces of bags and such. In this case I fussy cut strips of fabric and ironed the vinyl on to both sides. 20181127_194748I trimmed it, punched a hole, and put a grommet in it. Then I made my own tassels from embroidery floss.20181130_184521 I have to say I was pretty pleased with these. My mom went all out with this amazing pillow.20181225_131659.jpgIt’s so perfect for many reasons, including that we love Scrabble and the obvious-it’s sewn and completely personalized. Even the tiles have the accurate value embroidered on! And the board is totally accurate!
Tabby also went all out giving up many recesses to go to open art and create beautiful ceramics for all of us-ornaments for grandma, a mug for Paul20181225_082954.jpg, a kangaroo figurine for Clark (because a highlight of the summer was petting kangaroos), and a snowman and Christmas tree pin for me. 20181211_154654.jpgEverything looks great and was presented so professionally with tags her art teacher made.
I received gifts that are inspiring me to create and sew-gorgeous felt from Benzie designs, some assorted fabrics, and an embroidery book (200 Embroidered Flowers.) I already stitched up this little cherry blossom.  With the 2018 quilt behind me I’ve got ideas brewing for a project for next year….
Speaking of stitching, Paul has learned to satin stitch and is almost done embroidering his own neckerchief for scouts.  You might recall I did Clark’s a couple of years ago. I’m very impressed with what a nice job Paul has done on his.
Fun over the break included a mostly annual lunch with my bestie from childhood and her family, an epic Christmas Eve Eve game day (complete with new board games-Suspicion, Champions of the Wild, Attack Cats, and a Kahoot), another game night with other friends, and Paul, Clark, and I had a great afternoon throwing hatchets at a place called Stumpy’s. Oh, and of course a concert. We went to see Jill Sobule very locally (home and in pj’s at 10:30!) and she was amazing and it was a tiny venue and she sounded great and it was just an awfully fun thing to do a few days before Christmas.
All in all, this vacation is grand and I would like it to just keep going……

The Quilt Without a Name

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20181224_144926Finished! I’ve been working on this quilt basically all year long. Not that it was so horribly difficult or complicated but just a week here or there and then languishing for a few months and then finally doing the binding a few days before Christmas, and in that most ideal of settings, putting the finishing touches on while watching Elf on Christmas Eve afternoon.  (Santa brought me some super nice sharp thread snips in my stocking, so the real finishing touches were done the day after Christmas when I snipped the apparently million threads from my machine quilting.) In fact, this year I did a one second a day video every day and it’s really fun to look at the whole year because you’ll see throughout the year about 6 different scenes related to putting this quilt together.
So before I get into the story, here’s the finished quilt (which really needs a name. Every time I describe it as “coral and aqua” it brings to mind Miami Vice or 1980s bathrooms.)

I was so thrilled when I finished and ran outside to take pictures because it’s easier for me to really take in the whole look that way. And I just love the way these triangles rearrange themselves right in front of your eyes so that sometimes you’re seeing a big square block and then you say “wait, no, it looks like little butterflies” or whatever. Some points are perfect. And some…are not.20181224_145224

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This all started with a charm pack I got a few years ago. I sewed up 9 blocks in half square triangles and put it aside. I loved the darling fabrics but didn’t want to make it into a baby quilt to give away and figured I’d eventually add to it. This spring I got busy pulling other fabrics, purchasing additional fabric, and making lots more blocks. If you look at the picture in that post you can see the original 9 blocks.  Well, I did end up picking apart the seams to and separating those blocks to evenly distribute them throughout the whole quilt. Unusually for me I decided to go with a completely solid back and matching binding. I just really loved this light blue/aqua with tiny triangles fabric.  IMG_20181224_150222_057
For quilting I used an orange thread, which is highly visible on the back. I initially did x’s through the squares, but then I wanted it to have more so I added straight lines. I like the overall effect of strands twisting together.20181224_145000.jpg
And for a fun detail, partway into making this I wanted to have fun making a Dresden plate, and I did. I saved that for the very end and stitched my initial and date onto a petal and then appliqued it on. The very final thing was deciding what to make the center of that. I found a piece of fabric not used anywhere else in the quilt (which normally I wouldn’t do) that was rather bright and had a lovely bird on it. How could I resist? 20181224_145045

Overall I’m very pleased with this quilt. It just needs a name!

Christmas Cookies 2018

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Last night, late at night, I lay in bed reading lots of past posts of Christmas Day and the Christmas Cookie Party. And I loved it. It made me so happy to think of Christmases past, to read about the days and the cookies, and to see pictures showing my kids growing up.  And while the posts are less timely and the photos infrequent now, reading through those made me certain that I won’t give up at least those two posts a year!

So, this year’s cookie party. We had lots of people this year and something like 17 different cookies. After saving the labels for a few days I tidied up and unfortunately don’t have them, so let’s see if I can remember all that was there: *update! I found the tags and shall add what I forgot…

Candy Canes: Paul’s annual contribution
Gingerbread Trees: My contribution. My grand plans for elaborately decorated with royal icing cookies (inspired by GBBO and watching tons of IG cookie decorating videos) fell flat the night before when I battled with the icing, decided I hated it, and just went with my usual glaze icing and did a modern squiggle on the trees. It tasted delicious.
Italian Pine Nut Cookies: these not only looked great (a star on each one made out of nuts) but they tasted great too. I am all over baked goods made with almond paste.
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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: there were THREE different entries that were similar. One made it into a sandwich cookie and rolled the edge in crushed candy canes, one was a large-ish chocolate cookie with a cream cheese icing and crushed candy canes on top, and one was a smaller brownie like cookie with a dab of icing and sprinkled crushed candy cane on top. They were festive and tasty.


Gingerdoodles: I was crazy for these. A big soft ginger cookie with half of the cookie dipped in icing and some red and green sprinkles on it.
Something else that was a type of snickerdoodle (or sounded like snickerdoodle) that was good but I”m hard pressed to describe the flavor.
Ornament Sugar Cookies: a first time entry by someone who’s been coming since she was a baby and is now in 6th grade. I was very happy for her. These looked beautiful-just big sugar cookies very festively decorated.IMG_20181209_084824_036
Caramel Licks: these have a funny name and I loved them. Each was a frosted square with a half pecan centered on top. There is no gooey caramel-I think it refers to the icing, which tasted like a brown sugar frosting 20181209_121736
Christmas ornaments-not to be confused with the big elaborate sugar cookies, these were a smaller round cookie that was also festive looking
Jammers-a thumbprint type cookie but the cookie part was flat and round and there was very nice raspberry jam in the middle. These didn’t have nuts but were crunchy as if they did. A very nice cookie and the almost winner of the grand prize (and made by Melissa, a frequent winner so she can consider this another feather in her cap.)
Christmas M&M Sugar cookies
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip
A Gingerbread Tree (made a lovely centerpiece!) with Grandma’s Everything Cookies

As for savory, keeping it tried and true with the warm broccoli cheese dip (next year I need to triple this recipe. There was not enough and I only tasted the scrapings of the dish!) and the cheese ball. 20181208_140852This year I added a second cheese ball and I loved this recipe:
Fig Pistachio Cheese Ball
(from Dec issue of either BHG or FamilyCircle)
Mix together 8 oz cream cheese, 4 oz goat cheese, and 1/4 tsp salt. Fold in figs (1/2 c dried figs, chopped, and softened by steeping 5 min in boiling water.) Roll in chopped pistachios.
This was a delicious addition to the drinks table. Also I finally used a lovely slate cheese board I got for Christmas years ago and had somehow never used. Now it has a once a year purpose.
Also new this year–years ago I pulled a drinks recipe out of a magazine and never made it. It’s a “Junebug” and made with grenadine and orange sherbet. Everyone seemed to like that.20181208_140019
It was a lovely party and the grand prize winner was….the Italian Pine Nut Cookies! I was surprised because people usually vote chocolate and this is the type of cookie that I love. We had very generous voters this year and raised $164,which the winner donated to an organization that helps children with Type 1 Diabetes.  The most Christmassy was, no surprise, the Christmas Ornament sugar cookies. To be honest that cookie won both Christmassy and appearance by a landslide But you can only win one category and to my surprise the far behind runner up and thus winner of Best appearance was my Gingberbread trees!

As for our own cookies this year, so far I’ve made white chocolate cherry shortbread, cranberry pistachio shortbread, and apricot white chocolate cookies.I fear people’s appetites for cookies may not be as great as I think, but I do want to make thumbprints and also decorate some sugar cookies.It’s not like we personally have to eat them all. And I haven’t even made my beloved ginger squares! Maybe just a half recipe this year?

As for the rest of this holiday season I learned my lesson last year and this year I planned ahead and scheduled a day off of a work in December. I loved that awesome day. Did I do everything I wanted to? No, but I still was able to do some baking, leisurely shopping, crafting, and watching a Christmas movie. Astonishingly I’m taking forever to getting around to finishing off my quilt that was almost done before school started. I do have a crafty project that is very easy and satisfying and is being gifted to many. I wish I had a good embroidery project going on but I don’t. It’s always the set up that takes me a while. It’s December 15 and we haven’t figured out what we’re doing about Christmas cards. But that’s ok. With Thanksgiving being a bit early this year I’ve really enjoyed the longer slower pace of the Christmas season. (which is kind of silly because it’s what? 5 days longer than last year??)

Anyway happy holiday season!

 

Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field

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Part of our trip to Chicago included seeing both of the Pearl Jam shows at Wrigley Field. I’m so glad we decided to go ahead and do both shows because each show was great individually, but two together made an amazing whole. Only 4 songs were repeated the second night, which was incredible (and I was more than happy to hear those particular songs again.)20180818_191610
Like when we were in Boston there was a wonderful feeling in the city of many other fans being there. Knowing smiles and nods upon recognizing shirts, easy to strike up a conversation, had a great chat with a guy in our hotel breakfast room, and it was just fun to be part of this big feeling of excitement shared by so many.

There was a subway (el, I guess?) stop a block from our hotel and that would take us directly up to Wrigley. The station was packed, but we were able to bypass the ticket machine and just Googlepay and zip right through and get on a train. When we arrived at Wrigley, oh my! Thousands of people milling about. It’s so strange to see these stadiums right in a city at the corner of two streets. People are walking in the road and the entrances are right there. Much picture taking in front of the iconic sign:

Our seats the first night weren’t as great as we wanted them to be, but really they were fine. The merch lines were so impossibly line that we skipped them. It really was quite a zoo. Objectively speaking this stadium is far less charming than Fenway. The outside sign was cool to see (Save Ferris!) but inside it just seemed kind of…dumpy.  Paul did point out the ivy covered walls to me.
The show itself was amazing. Highlights for me were Just Breathe (love that song, hadn’t heard live before, brought tears to my eyes). Like in Boston this show had what I think of as a quieter opening (which I think I don’t like but once I’m listening to it I say “oh this is great”.) There were a lot of songs I either was not that familiar with or possibly hadn’t heard before. Oh and one thing-despite how much I like Pearl Jam I can barely remember any of the song titles! And on Monday there was a very notable incident of a song I like very much it turned out I had the lyrics and title wrong forever. And my lyrics made much more sense to me. I cannot even admit in print what it was. You can see the full set list here.
The show was long and leisurely and super. And at the end during Rockin in the Free World (which I’ve heard before but is still great and I love it that I get to hear Neil Young) I saw a guy climb over the fence into the highly off limits infield, run to 3rd base, and then run from 3rd to home and slide into home beautifully. As he ran off security tackled him from two directions, knocking over a large portion of fencing. As they led him off the look on this guy’s face said that he had no regrets and had just fulfilled a lifelong dream to steal home on Wrigley Field–while Pearl Jam played at the end of a concert no less! Our whole side of the stadium cheered for him.
The merch line was less daunting so we waited on it and got t-shirts and then headed home.

We were so exhausted afterward that we both thought “Can we really do this again on Monday?” of course we could! The thing about Monday’s show was that the weather forecast predicted a 100% chance of rain. So there was a lot of uncertainty about whether the show would be delayed or cancelled. Wrigley was somewhat less of a zoo this time and we were able to wait on only a 20 minute merch line and acquire 2 of the posters we wanted. When we found our seats (thankfully just under the cover) it didn’t look promising.20180820_193750

Shortly after an announcement was made that there would definitely be a delay. 20180820_194821

OMG as I’m writing this my radio station, which is doing a Throwback Thursday, just introduced Given to Fly which came out in 1998. Seems like a good time to type that this is the song they opened with and it’s a huge favorite of mine and it was a fantastic way to open this concert and also brought tears to my eyes and filled me with joy. So now you know-the show did go on! But not after a 2 hour delay which included clearing the field. And waiting through a heavy storm of thunder, lightning, and rain. (we only got mildly wet.) How bad did I feel for the people who waited all day on a line to be able to get in and claim a spot in the pit? We had friends there and were texting and they reported that it was unorganized chaos regarding where everyone was sheltered. When they finally announced it was safe to return it looked like someone would be trampled as they swarmed back on. Fortunately that did not happen. Once it was all safe they worked hard and fast to uncover equipment and there was no dilly dallying-the band walked on and launched into Given to Fly. 20180820_214655It was a fantastic set of songs. A delightful nod to the weather with a cover of The Beatles’ Rain, which as a Beatles fan, I especially loved. Other fantastic surprise cover was White Stripes’ We’re Going to Be Friends. There were a lot of big hits in this night-lots of things that I was so excited on Saturday I didn’t even realize I hadn’t heard, like Daughter. Complete with a wonderful rousing speech by Eddie. Really the whole thing was fantastic. The Wrigley curfew is 11pm but because of the delay they were able to extend to midnight. They ended up packing a lot into a 2 1/2 hour set with barely any pauses. You can see the full set list here.
Going to both shows was just an incredible experience. We heard a total of 61 songs, the energy was great, we didn’t get hit by lightning, the drunk guy behind Paul didn’t fall us on or drop his beer on us (I have to say-ugh-so many drunk people. Just so many. We couldn’t get over it. Where were the fans like us?) and despite the Tokyo level of subway congestion, we managed to get home pretty efficiently.

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It was amazing! Rock on!

Chicago!

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16497 miles, 46 different license plates, 7 Chicago style hot dogs, 1 Chicago deep dish pizza , 2 Pearl Jam concerts, 1 and 3/4 jumbo bags of gummy bears, 4 souvenir pencils, 4 souvenir magnets, 2 souvenir Christmas ornaments, several postcards and such, countless spottings of Clark’s name on street signs, 1 boat ride, several bus/train/trolley rides.

Our summer vacation destination this year was...Chicago! We picked it because I had been to Chicago several times for business, but Paul had never been. I thought there were a lot of cool things to do there and it would be fun to explore as a family. Plus, we loved our city vacations in Boston and Toronto. Then, in early spring, Pearl Jam announced they’d be playing two shows at Wrigley Field this summer. Clearly, it was written in the stars! Hotel booked (even before tickets secured), tickets bought, dates saved. As when we went to Michigan 4 years ago, this was a long road trip vacation. We departed on a Wednesday and the first day drove to Cleveland. We really didn’t get to see much of Cleveland-ate dinner out, drove along the waterfront in the morning, and marveled at what a small city it was. On Thursday we finished the drive to Chicago, arriving mid/late afternoon. We checked in to our downtown Hampton Inn (which I highly recommend-great location, nice staff, fantastic daily complimentary breakfast, and we swam and used the sauna daily) and hopped on to the free trolley to go to Navy Pier. It was dusk when we went up the 200 foot ferris wheel and oh! what a sight! What a wonderful first night view to see the city and its skyline, as well as Lake Michigan.

There were a lot of things for these East coasters to remark upon being in this big midwestern city and one of them for sure is Lake Michigan. We really can’t get over how vast it is and how it looks like the ocean. We ended the evening with dinner at the chichi Boho House.
The next morning we headed out to the Art Institute of Chicago. Our hotel was situated just a couple blocks north of the river, so it was a charming and easy walk (right under the famous corncob buildings!) to Millenium Park, and then the art museum. We all couldn’t wait to see the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka The Bean.) It was even cooler than expected (even on a grey day) and much picture taking ensued.

Once we got to the museum we headed straight for a much anticipated highlight-The Thorne Rooms. These are 68 miniature rooms representing in perfect teeny detail various rooms in various periods of time and place in European and American history. I had first read about them in the children’s book, The Sixty-Eight Rooms. (As I was the only one who’d read this series we brought the audiobook to listen to. It’s a wonderful story where children shrink and go in the rooms and then time travel.) These little rooms in perfect detail are just amazing. It’s so easy to get lost in them, imagining being in them, and marveling at the craftsmanship.

After that it was on to the other anticipated famous works of art the institute is known for.

As with tromping around any art museum, we were tired and cranky at the end. Time for our first Chicago style hot dog! I’m going to state right here that my preferred hot dog style is a hot dog in a bun with ketchup on it. And I don’t like mustard. Or really relish. Or tomatoes. But I am game to try most foods and this is iconic. (And I loved that weird Norwegian hot dog with all the stuff on it.)We did pick the hot peppers off, though. I didn’t take jumbo bites, but I did enjoy it. I especially like the poppy seed buns. That evening we ate at a thoroughly weird well known place called Portillo’s.
The next day, Saturday, it was on to another Chicago landmark-the Sears Tower (or, as it is properly called now the Willis Tower.) We walked there and saw a surprising fun sight as we walked past the Cook County Courthouse (9am on a Saturday) dozens of couples and families lined up to get married! What a festive feeling on the block!
The tower was cool, though if I’m being honest it’s like any other spectacularly tall tower (CN Tower, I’m looking at you.) The view was SPECTACULAR (and it was even not the clearest day), stepping on to the glass was nerve wracking, and the facts and maps were interesting.

We were smugly pleased when we departed to see that now the wait to get in was significantly longer than when we arrived. We continued our vacation-good luck-and-timing streak when we we left and walked back north to the river. Turns out tickets were available for the architecture boat tour we wanted to take for a tour leaving in 10 minutes-perfect! After a long walk it was nice to sit on a lovely boat and enjoy a 75 minute tour along the Chicago River learning all about the different buildings as well as Chicago history.

This was such a neat way to see things in the city we wouldn’t have otherwise and I highly recommend this popular tourist activity. At this point we were quite hungry and the good luck continued because although I’ve been to Chicago several times, for some reason or other I’ve never eaten at Frontera Grill or Topolobompo and I’ve always wanted to. Well, turns out there is another Rick Bayless outpost called XOCO and it was a block down from our hotel. And to make matters even better, it was kind of late for lunch and there was actually adorable outdoor seating available for us! We had an amazing lunch. After that it was time to relax and swim before Paul and I went out to Pearl Jam concert #1. I think I need a separate concert post.. So suffice to say it was awesome and let’s move on to Sunday. {Here’s the post on the concerts.}
Sunday’s weather was lovely and we probably should have gone to the beach, but instead we took the train to the Shedd Aquarium. Initially I had wondered if we needed to go to an aquarium when we have one nearby us and it didn’t seem especially “Chicago.” But Paul pointed out that we all really enjoy them and why not? Good thinking, Paul. And this was indeed a really lovely one. It is situated near the Field Museum and Planetarium and sits right on the water. It was a gorgeous setting and the building was really cool. Check out the ceiling of the grand foyer.
Check out the view from where the black crested dolphins and Beluga whales swim.

Vacation good luck for this outing: the Air and Boat Show was happening this weekend and while we took a break on a shaded outside patio we could see Blue Angels or some such aerial display happening. [And while I didn’t have quite as stellar a prep moment as the infamous Watkins Glen poncho situation, my second best would be that I visited the Trader Joe’s next to the subway stop when we got off and bought snacks that I managed to stuff into my big purse so nobody could be cranky or hungry and we didn’t need to have a full lunch from the cafe. So, sitting on a beautiful lakeside patio eating a big bag of TJ’s cheesy poofs was a lovely moment.]
Afterward I insisted we walk along the lake curving around the building. I couldn’t get over how it’s just a wide sidewalk with the water lapping over the edge.

Many people were out and about walking and biking and enjoying the lake views. Members of our party were at this point overtired and droopy so I ran and fetched more Chicago hot dogs and restorative Cokes.
That evening we tried Chicago style deep dish pizza. No one was converted into a fan. Perhaps it was the place (I thought that the pie was undercooked), but really I think I just want a thin crust and my cheese melted over the top.
Monday was on to another museum-this time the Museum of Science and Industry. We took the bus to get there and this museum was quite a ways away from everything else. And the building was HUGE. And wonderfully old-fashioned. I was so puzzled. Until we found out this is where the Chicago World’s Fair was in 1893! It all made sense. And was pretty cool to learn, when we watched the Tesla coil be fired off, that Tesla himself had been in that building in 1893 basically doing the same thing. This was a great science museum. We especially enjoyed the mirror maze. 

By the way, because we did so many of these main attractions we opted to purchase a CityPass, which saved a tiny bit of money, got us some extras, and got us fast entrance into all the places. Well worth it.
That night was Pearl Jam concert #2. It had been grey and off an on rainy all day with 100% chance of rain that night so there was some apprehension about what would happen. More on that in the concert post..

Tuesday was our last full day and we used it to just do things we wanted to do extra, such a nice brunch out at Yolk, one more visit to the Bean

, a little shopping excursion into Blick, and walking up the Michigan Ave to the American Girl Place. Tabby and I had a lovely time exploring it and engaging in all the historical doll exhibits. (Paul was with us though I don’t know if he had a lovely time. Clark chose to stay in the hotel room.) We were delighted to find out that walking just three more blocks brought us to an actual beach. Finally! We got to get up close to Lake Michigan!The red flags were up because the waves were so rough the lifeguard couldn’t get his boat out (he explained to us.)  Waves! Actual breaking waves. It was so fascinating. It looked like the ocean but the air didn’t smell or feel salty. We waded in but afterwards our legs were easily clean and dry (no salt sticking.) There were waves but they didn’t behave like ocean waves. It was very cool and also very interesting to have this be right at the edge of the city and completely accessible. It was wonderful. After that it was a long walk back and then we had an early dinner out.
The next day we packed our bags and said goodbye to Chicago. We did do one additional stop on our way out of town: a trip to Nuts on Clark, which was up by Wrigley Field. We drove over, made Clark have some pictures taken, bought delicious nuts and popcorn, and then exited the city by driving all along Lakeshore Dr, which wasn’t the way we arrived so it was a beautiful way to leave.
Many hours in the car and made it to Pennsylvania. Rural PA, some place I never heard of, but Paul had found an inexpensive room that looked good and he said it seemed like there was an interesting animal place nearby we would want to look at. Well. It turned out that the Log Cabin Lodge and Suites was in fact a part of the Living Treasures Wild Animal Park and it was weird and fascinating and we could hear the lion making noise from our (quite nice and spacious and had bunk beds) room. We were all eager to get home but couldn’t pass up going into the animal park and oh boy are we glad we did. We were the first people in and we had a big bag of food that you can feed the animals. Chickens and geese wandered the grounds. We walked over to an enclosure with red kangaroos. They woke up and saw us and all came right over. We could just stick our hands right through the fence and feed and pet them and they loved it.

The whole place was like that-just go right ahead and touch and pet and feed the animals. [disclaimer: I was a bit apprehensive about a place like this. is this just some guy into keeping exotic animals as pets? are they cared for well? it’s definitely not like a big zoo with an emphasis on education and conservation. In the end I concluded that the only animals I thought shouldn’t be there were the pair of lions and tigers. All the other animals seemed to be living a pretty happy life.] It was great to kind of be “first in line” going around the route because we had the animals to ourselves. We fed and pet bison, camels, kangaroos, golden pigs, all kinds of goats (one of which Clark encountered on a path, it seemed to have just climbed out) and sheep and little donkeys and horses. It was a really fun start to the day. And after that, just 4 1/2 more hours in the car and we were reunited with our very own petting zoo. It was so wonderful to see Willow and all our other pets again. The flowers were blooming like crazy at home, the pool was nice and clear and cool, and it was good to be home.

An exhausting and wonderful vacation!!

 

 

 

“Mystery Blogger Award”

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This has been a summer of renewed sewing and renewed blogging. It’s been fun to get back into this and to “meet” new people. One such person is Danita, at Designed by Danita. I do like engaging with people on Instagram, but it’s nice to read a bigger blog post about fitting a pattern, or seeing how a project turns out. Danita has received and passed along to me the “Mystery Blogger Award”, which is one of those things that goes around the blog world from time to time and is a fun way to find out about other people. I loved reading Danita’s post, especially finding out about her hip hop passion! Part of this is to pass on by nominating 10 others. Well, since I’ve fizzled on keeping up with other sites I have no one to nominate! But I’m going to play along with answering Danita’s questions (because who doesn’t love doing that?) and also say a big thank you to Danita!

3 Things About Me :

1. I feel like everyone knows everything about me and it’s hard to think of anything! Umm….one of my goals this summer was to learn how to play the ukelele. Paul can pick up any guitar like instrument and just strum away or pick out a tune. I would love to be able to do that. It’s just not in me, though. I play the piano and can read music just fine, but no just figuring out a tune. Paul helped me learn a few chords and I’ve been practicing and practicing and I’m pleased to say that yesterday I played and sang a song. Compared to playing the piano this whole thing feels so different it’s really hard for me to get my head around. Much like when I tried to learn how to knit and discovered it was so different from quilting that I couldn’t quite figure out anything. Anyway, I’m super proud!!

2.Late in life I’ve discovered (through Paul) how much fun it is to go to concerts. We often go out together to see bands we like. This post had a wrap up of the 2017 shows. Some of the very best were: Beck (a total surprise to me how much I loved that concert, plus we had great seats); Band of Horses (we’d seen them twice as openers and finally when we got to see just them it was everything I’d hoped they’d be); Neil Young (the pinnacle of people I most ever wanted to see. Conviently we saw him twice-once solo acoustic and once with a rocking band. Best of both worlds. Incredible.); Pearl Jam (Fenway Park and regular arena show, both amazing); and Decemberists. Shout out to Guster, the band we’ve seen most and I just adore and always have a great time at their shows and it’s been a couple years but happily we just got tickets to see them this fall.

3. I love board games. I guess I should say tabletop games because that encompasses all the fun things with cards like Quiddler and Sushi Go, too. I wish we played family game nights more often but we do get in Game Nights with friends. We’ve played Pandemic Legacy over the course of more than a year and have just begun Pandemic Legacy 2. My dream vacation day would be playing games literally all day long.

Danita’s Questions:

1. What is your favorite era of women’s fashion? Elaborate. (Sorry, but that’s the teacher in me talking!)
I adore 1950s fashion. I love full skirts, probably in part because the fit and flare style is most flattering to my figure.  And in general I like skirts and dresses.  I like seeing dresses inspired by those styles, but I don’t want to look costumey. (*I answered the bottom questions first in which I couldn’t think of a favorite garment. But I’ll interject and say that the vintage Vogue pattern (thus tying in to this question) that I call my “red party dress” is one of my favorite things I’ve made. I haven’t worn it often and I haven’t made the pattern again. Perhaps I will now…

2. Have you ever had to mend a garment that you noticed “fell apart” while you were in public? If yes, please share the gory details!
Believe it or not, no!

3. What, if anything, do you like to have playing in the background while you sew (examples: music, TV shows or podcasts)?
I always have something playing when I sew! We even got an additional Alexa speaker for the room where my machine is, and it’s such a treat. Though I do listen to music, my main go-to is listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and Ask Me Another. I adore these shows and since I never listen to them in real time, it’s a treat to settle in for some sewing and listen to the episodes. I love playing along with them and think they’re very funny.

4. What is your favorite me-made project of all time?
As much as I’m pleased with some of the garments I’ve made, I love the quilts I’ve done best of all. I love all the quilts I’ve done (I just counted-15 finished), but I’m especially fond of the simplest one I’ve done:14917945602_4efe2b63aa_z
It pleases me so much to just see a bunch of fabrics I like, and especially fabrics I’ve used in other places (and the backing was a cherished flannel sheet.) I also love the scrappy prism quilt I made because the scraps are truly a scrapbook of other things I’ve made-bags, quilts, doll clothes, baby clothes, my clothes, etc.
I’m also partial to almost all the aprons I’ve made.7172695062_08c4e76642_z I adore this one because I love the fabric, the cut, and also because I won a county fair blue ribbon for it!  As you can see, my most favorite projects are ones that aren’t just visually appealing, or satisfying for a construction achievement, but ones that have good memories or associations.
Actually-I will pick a garment-my kimono. It’s gotten more wear than anything else I’ve made and I still love it.

5. What was your best vacation to date?
Oh boy this is a difficult question! I have so many memories of every vacation I’ve had! And they are all special in their own ways. I loved our New Hampshire vacation last year so much. In fact, if it wasn’t so far away we’d do it again. And I think we are hoping to do something similar (or just suck it up and go that far) next year because we keep talking about it. It was so much like my beloved childhood vacations in the 1000 Islands (which truly were THE best vacations), plenty of just relaxing, being on or near water, playing games, reading, eating ice cream, etc. 36015724343_eef6ff6ebd_z
Another super awesome vacation was the trip my husband and I took the first year we were married. It was November and we went to Amsterdam, Brugges, and Brussels. Pre-smartphones. We had an amazing time exploring each city, traveling by train between them, staying in quaint hotels, and eating fantastic food. It was a truly wonderful trip. One of the things we loved about it (but hadn’t even planned) was that we were there in time for Christmas markets! Everything was so beautiful and Brugge looked like a Christmas picture. In Brussels there was a winter carnival called Winter Pret and again, we didn’t even know it would be there. It was fantastic-booths with grog, a giant ferris wheel, weird and ancient looking European merry go rounds. Oh the whole thing was enchanting!!I’m going to see if I can dig up a photo…(sadly, I couldn’t find the album.)

At this point I’m supposed to direct you to a bunch of other blogs, but I’m afraid I don’t have any to tell you about. So perhaps this was just a very self-indulgent post! I will tell you that some of the tags/people I follow on IG for sewing inspiration are:  #sewingseren (I’m dying to try this dress), @closetcase.patterns, @mellysews, #quilting, #imakemyclothes, #memadeeveryday, @namaste_embroidery

I would also pose my own questions. So here’s a few questions for you to ponder on your own, or perhaps even share an answer in the comments:
1. Describe one of the most memorable meals you’ve ever had.
2. Books are my passion and most often how I connect with people. As a librarian people often ask me “what’s your favorite book?” That’s troubling because I have so many! Depends on certain variables. So how about this: What is a book you’ve reread more than once? Or, who is a character that you would love to be friends with in real life? What childhood book is one of the most memorable to you?
3. I like Danita’s question, so I’ll repeat it (I had an awfully good time reflecting on this question, maybe you will too): What’s your favorite thing you’ve sewn?
4. A sewing specific question: is there a sewing technique that you can never seem to get right?
5. Another sewing specific: How did you learn to sew?

Thanks for reading along!