Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ohio: Home to Pencil Sharpeners and Washboards

We've been traveling again.  This time we spent a few days in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio with some family members.  We visited one of the many, many state parks and had time to take in a few other unusual sites.

This area of the state is home to the Pencil Sharpener Museum!?!?  3479 pencil sharpeners, no duplicates all in one place.  The husband felt misled because some of the sharpeners were the same shape but different colors.  The pictures on the link above can show you the inside displays better than my pictures, but here are a few from my camera just to show that I was truly there:

On the way home we visited the Columbus Washboard Company.  This was a surprising find.  The factory has been making washboards continuously since the early 1900s.  They have a small store right next to the factory.  You can walk through the factory and see just how these washboards are made.  In addition, they were very dog friendly and let Seamus visit also, showered him with love and treats and gave him a bag of treats for the road!  I came home with a washboard/corkboard for my sewing room.  The "washing" part is cork so it can be used to post things.  It's a nice, usable reminder of a fun trip.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rag Quilt for My Winter

I'm not sure if this is "quilting" or "sewing" but I've always wanted to make one of these rag quilts and having a new little one (my little Winter) around gave me the perfect excuse.  I made it out of flannel without batting.  It also gave me an excuse to use my Accuquilt Go.  I feel a little guilty that I don't use this more often.  This seemed like a perfect project.  The die cuts both the square and the fringe so that once you sew the pieces together, you're done.  There was enough fabric left over to make a matching pillow.

Even with a project this simple there were a few lessons to learn.
  • Using the die cutter didn't guarantee that each square was the same size.  The fabrics responded differently to the process of going through the press resulting in some small differences in size.  It didn't matter too much in this project though.
  • Having the fringe precut was a time saver in the end but it did make it a bit more difficult to line up the pieces and sew the rows together.
  • Between the larger seam allowances and the shrinkage my final piece was considerably smaller than it looked on the design wall.
  • All pinks are not created equal.  I ended up buying several pieces of fabric that just plain didn't go with each other.
I'm hoping Winter finds this to be a snuggly little blankie and pillow to snuggle up with.  Her Nana would be glad to make some more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Pillow Puddle: Part One

Next month my local quilt guild will be having a quilt show.  Much of my sewing/quilting time lately has been directed at this.  I've put hanging sleeves and labels on quilts I'm entering, finished up my Whisper Quilt and Russian Quilt and, most recently I've been making pillows for the puddle.

The pillow puddle is a big child's swimming pool filled with pillows.  To win a pillow visitors will choose a ticket out of a jar for a given price (I'm not sure what the charge is) and if the pillow is marked as a winner they get to choose any pillow out of the puddle. 

So far I've made these:
It's sort of addicting.  As I'm making one, I come up with an idea for another one.  I've used mostly orphan blocks and scraps and stuffing from extra pillows around the house.  All but one of the orphans above came from some items I won at our winter quilt guild auction.  So, another member donated the blocks, I bought them and made them into pillows to donate back to the guild for the puddle!  I also got to use my Sashiko for some of the top stitching.

I thought I was finished, but I came up with another pillow design and have planned to make a few more.

My two favorites from this batch are:

Stay tuned for part two!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Key West, Florida

Our recent trip to Florida included a three day sister trip to Key West, the most southern location in the continental United States.   The husbands drove us to Fort Myers, FL where we caught a ferry to Key West.  The ride took about 3 1/2 hours.  I don't know much about boats, but this one sure seemed to go FAST.  Here's a picture of the wake behind the boat:

Key West wasn't really what we expected.  It is called "small", but between the heat and our luggage in tow (and we both packed super light) it seemed pretty big.  And it's much more congested and built up than I expected.  It almost has an urban feel to it in the downtown area absent the tall buildings of most cities.  It has a full time population of 30,000.  It turns out that Key West tried to secede from the USA at one time.  I'm unclear about the event, but we were told that residents can have a Conch Republic passport OR a US passport.  And the Conch Republic passport is accepted by 38 countries including the USA.  They have their own flag, but they are part of Florida and the US.  I don't completely understand it.

We spent the next few days exploring and visited a few highlights including the lighthouse:
It was a somewhat short tower with just 88 steps to the top.  The keepers of this house were all from one family throughout the entire time the house was in operation.  Here's a view from the top:
We toured Ernest Hemmingway's house.  At least they call it his house, but it really belonged to his second (of four) wife.  He did live there when he did most of his famous writing and he was such a larger than life character who really embraced life in the Keys, and besides, who would pay to see "Polly Hemingway's House"?  Most notable part was this awesome pool.  When it was built it was said to be the largest privately owned pool in the US:
He owned several polydactyl (many toed) cats and the decedents of those cats still reside on the property and are loving cared for by the staff.
We toured a very nice butterfly museum:

Took a disappointing glass bottom boat ride - not even worth a picture.  Here's a bit of advice on glass bottom boats.  When the trip starts with the captain telling you that the water is too rough to go to the Atlantic and see the Great Barrier Reef so they are going into the gulf instead to see the coral gardens and you can get off now and get your money back if you really wanted to go to the Great Barrier Reef........get off.

Visited the original Margaretville restaurant of Jimmy Buffet where we shared the best cheeseburger ever:
And saw a pretty sunset on the ferry ride home:

The husbands were a bit late picking us up which was kind of spooky given where the boat docked, but it all turned out well.

We warmed to Key West after our initial disappointment.  I would go back again, a wiser traveler for having taken this trip. 
One more bit of trivia - Key West is 90 miles from Cuba and 134 miles from the nearest Walmart.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Wild Mustard is In Bloom

This is a picture of wild mustard:
It grows in empty lots and fields around here as a weed.  Dairy farmers hate it because if their cows eat too much of it their milk will have an odd taste.

I have a vivid memory related to this plant and except for this memory I probably wouldn't give it a second glance. As I was on my way to the hospital to give birth to son #1, (The birth of a first child truly changes the course of the rest of your life in ways you can never anticipate or imagine.) I remember a lot of wild mustard growing along the sides of the road and in empty lots.  So every year when I see the mustard come into bloom it reminds my of this special, special day....which happens to be today.

Happy Birthday, son #1!

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Bird in Town (or at least in my backyard!)

After being away for more than a week we had some "catching up" to do around the house.  Top on the list is always: water the plants and fill the bird feeders.  A lot of the trees are now growing, the grass is thick and full and flowers are breaking through the soil.  But the first thing I noticed when I looked outside was a new bird!  I haven't managed to catch him with my camera yet, but here is an image I found online of a beautiful tree swallow:
There are at least two in yard.  I think they are either nesting in one of my boxes or in a nearby tree.  The color is brilliant! One of the birds spends a lot of time perched on a hook near a birdhouse that I originally put up hoping to attract bluebirds.  When I read up about these tree swallows it mentioned that they are attracted to the same areas as bluebirds - so maybe they're staying in the box.  I don't have solid proof of that yet.

I put some dried meal worms out near where I often see them perched hoping that they would like them and accept my "token of friendship".  It would be great if they became "regulars."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Traveling With Seamus

We have been on the road again.  This time we wanted to try to travel with our Golden Retriever, Seamus.  Finding pet friendly accommodations takes some planning and when that furry friend is 100 pounds it becomes even more complicated.  Several hotels advertise as pet friendly but they limit their friendliness by weight - usually about 50 pounds.  Now, I would pretend he was only, say, 80 pounds; but 50 - couldn't pull that one off.  And often there is an added pet fee, sometimes for each night.

When I see people vacationing with their pets I often ask where they stay and a frequent response has been, "La Quinta".

I want to give a "shout out" to this great hotel chain for their embracing attitude towards pets. (This is totally unsolicited - just sharing good news about a great business.) If you think a hotel with a liberal pet policy would be dirty, smelly or "hairy"....not this one!  We stayed at three La Quinta locations.  All of them had clean, large rooms, comfortable beds and complimentary breakfast bar and a lower rate than the hotel chain we usually frequent.  There is no additional pet fee at all and pets are not only tolerated, but truly welcomed.  At one location we were asked, "Will you be accompanying your pet today?" They know who is the important member of the family! The only restriction on Seamus was that he could not be in any food service area - an understandable limitation and one that is set by health codes.  But, if you are traveling alone with your pet, staff will help you prepare a breakfast and carry it to your room to enjoy or you are welcomed to sit in the lobby and eat with your pet.  In the three nights we stayed with La Quinta we never heard barking or saw any pet related problems.  Cats are also welcomed. They must BYOLB (bring your own litter box). 

At our first stop we signed a paper saying we were responsible for any damage and that paper was stored in the hotel system eliminating the need to resign at subsequent stops.  We joined the loyalty program. After about five paid nights you are rewarded with a free night.

So, it was a very successful experience.  Seamus loved his time in the sun (we traveled to Florida) and even seemed to benefit health wise from the warmer weather.  His limp is less and his walking pace has improved.  Looks like we will be accompanying him on more travels!