Monday, August 31, 2015

For The Birds (Key West, FL)

I can't believe we have been here almost a month.  All ready?  How time flies when I am enjoying the views!

We have also been dealing with quite a few thunder storms recently.  They tend to sneak up on us when we are least expecting them.  
I never get tired of the sunsets
As the sun is going down on another gorgeous sunny day, the clouds are gathering for another surprise visit.  We almost lost our large awning one night.  I had already fallen asleep when a big gust of wind rocked our motorhome.  By the time I had jumped out of bed, Dan was already outside wrestling with the awning that was acting like a sail and trying very hard to blow it over the motorhome's roof.
lots of puddles to navigate around during our walks
We finally managed to roll up and lock the awning in place, but not before the canvas hinge that holds the awning to the roof had ripped.  Dan is planning to replace the canvas hinge by himself.  We were lucky compared to several other campers.  Many of the awnings and the upright arms were ripped off the rigs during that short storm.

This past week, we were glued to the news watching T.S. Erika while wondering if the base commander would make a mandatory evacuation of the campground.  News came on Saturday morning that we would not have to move.  We just had to tie down or store all loose items.  Erika broke up over Cuba and moved further north.  We received a couple of hours of heavy rain and wind.  Not too bad compared to that one stormy night.  One good thing came out of this storm - this is the cleanest the campground has looked since we got here.  No cluttered sites!

We found out that during the summer, there are some tourist attractions that give free or discounted entrances to active duty and military retirees plus dependents.  We took advantage of the free offers and have been visiting quite a few attractions.

Below is some photos of the Audubon House.  Actually this house belonged to the Greiger family not to John Audubon. 
Audubon House
 Captain John Greiger was a maritime pilot and a wrecker. Salvage wreckers were a common practice among the locals making Key West a very prosperous town until the government intervened and put an end to the salvaging.
Touring through Greiger's home gave a view of what life was like in the late 1800s.  The house is filled with beautiful antiques and period furniture.  I, of course, was more interested in the quilts.  I wish I had taken a photo of the quilts' design description and original owners.  I should know better!  My memory is not that good!
I often wonder how the ladies and gentlemen could stand to wear the layers of clothes during the hot days of summer.  This dress looks like it is made of a loose woven linen, so at least, a little cooler to wear.  The little parasol doesn't look like it would protect a lady from the hot sun very well, does it?
I had mentioned that John Audubon did not live here.  He did visit for six weeks in 1832 with the Greiger family in their old homestead on the same property.  He wrote about his visit with the Greigers and Key West while studying the local wild life.  The house he visited was destroyed during a hurricane in 1846.  Throughout the 'new' house, we were able to view many of Audubon's prints.  The meticulous detail of each bird is amazing.  I have seen some of Audubon's work in books, but they don't come even close to the amount of detail put into each of the large prints.
I love the layout of the house.  The stairs and a very wide hall/entrance way were open to double door rooms.  At the front and back of the centered hallways are large doors to catch the breezes keeping the house cool.  The outside doors opened to deep set verandas giving the house more shady areas to enjoy.
The rocking chairs on the veranda were very inviting.  Come sit.  Rock away the day while watching the people pass by on the street or enjoy the quiet beauty of the garden.

On The Cutting Board
A customer asked if I was going to make more Acorn mug rugs soon because she was interested in ordering four of them.  I told her I would make six and she can pick out the four she wanted before I listed them.  I mailed out her order today, so I will list the last two on Etsy soon.
I will also be listing eight new Happy Campers!  I'm so happy to get so many done at one time.  I'm in the middle of finishing up five mini wall hangings.  I'll post some photos in my next blog.  I know...you are wondering - gee, when will that be???  Yea, I'll try to post a little quicker next time.  I certainly have enough photos of the area to fill a few posts.
One more photo of a great sunset.  This time with thunder clouds in the distance.  They did not come this way.  Most of our storms seem to come from the north or east.  For now, anyway.  
Well, I better get back to the mini wall hangings....
Happy Quilting!

Friday, August 14, 2015

On Key West Time (Key West, FL)

I am definitely in mañana mode lately or Key West time.  Taking it easy.  Enjoying the views.  Here are some photos of a few things we have seen in the last week.
Sigsbee NAS has placed a few of these over-sized adirondack chairs around the base.  Getting into the chair was easy...getting out was a whole other experience.  Surprisingly, it was quite comfortable to sit in.   And....Yes, I do feel like 'Edith Ann'.  For the young ones that have no idea what I am talking about - Edith Ann was a character played by Lily Tomlin on "Laugh-In" - a comedy show from the late 60s to early 70s.
While spending some time with Dusty at our site before our morning walk, I watched this rainbow develop as the sun came up.  We get a decent view of the water and sunsets even though we are one row back and have to peek between rigs.  The sites are staggered just so that most sites have a sliver of a view of the water.
This Iguana was starting his day early.  Just look at that healthy green glow!  We rarely see them out on our morning walks.
We see quite a few Little Blue Herons and Ibis, but
the Pelicans and the bigger birds such as Herons or Egrets have not migrated south.  Something to look forward to along with a warmer winter.
The flowers are gorgeous right now.  This flowering tree can be found all over Key West.  Just Bloomin' beautiful!
We have been downtown a few times and I already have toooooo many photos, so I promise not to bombard you in one post.  I will try to spread them out.
Doesn't this look inviting?  Shall I sit or swim?  The water feels warmer than the air at times.  Floating around is very relaxing and the best part - my skin doesn't feel salty or dried out afterward.  
Chickens are a big part of Key West's charm.  They are everywhere...on the streets, at the Post Office, in front yards, and under your feet at restaurants.  We even have a few chickens and roosters on base.
Mama Hen and her chicks were following us down the sidewalk in the Truman Annex.  I got the feeling that the chickens can tell that we are a soft touch.  They must have that same sixth sense as do the feral cats - I know you want to feed us.
Business is booming despite the heat and humidity.  Key West has been very busy.  We were expecting a quieter time with less crowds and traffic.  We were surprised to see it was just the opposite with the long lines, packed restaurants, and traffic jams.  Even the base's campground has stayed filled almost to the point that they would have to start rotating people from full hook-ups to dry camping.
SouthernMost Point and Conch-blowing Greeter 
Ahhh, another gorgeous sunset.  I'm sure there will be more to come...
In the meantime, I need to find some energy and get some sewing done.  My little shop is looking rather empty.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Change of Plans (Key West, FL)

Last week, we decided to finish our move south to Key West.  We had planned to spend another 2 to 5 weeks in Central Florida while trying to wait out hurricane season.  Change of plans!  We will take our chances and hope for a calm season.
We spent one night in Midway State Park near Big Cypress and Everglades National Park.  We visited Big Cypress NP visitor's center.  I was more interested in the display of the Seminole's patchwork than in walking around outdoors.  I tried not to smear the glass while looking for the tiny stitches in the patchwork.  Beautiful handwork!
A Pin Doll for the Doll
The body of the dolls are made from palmetto fibers.  Here's a link that shows how the Seminoles make different things from palmetto leaves including dolls.  Scroll to the bottom to find Making Dolls.  My grandparents gave me one of these dolls when I was little.  It sat on my knick-knack shelf for many years.  I have no idea what happened to it.  I know I wish I still had it.
This dress was made in the 1920 - 1930s.  Both boys and girls wore this outfit.  The fabric looks very light and cool.  Very comfortable for the hot humid summer days in Florida.  Isn't the handwork amazing?
I did spend sometime outdoors with Dan watching the alligators swimming around.  This is the first time I have actually seen one swim.  They certainly give off a lazy carefree attitude with only their tail moving and legs hanging limp.  Gliding across the water barely making a ripple in the water...sneaking up on an unsuspected meal.  Most of the alligators ignored the people except for this one swam straight up to us and stopped.  I got the feeling that he was sizing us up for lunch.  I'm glad there was a fence between us.
Red Shouldered Hawk
This hawk was our only neighbor in the state park.  He is sitting on top of a pole holding Purple Martin's houses.  I think he is in for a long wait since the owners are vacationing up north right now.
I got very excited when we started on the last stretch of our journey down U.S. 1 South!
Oh yea!  It is beginning to look a lot like the Florida Keys.
Key West!
After several hours of heavy traffic, slow speeds, and a couple of stops - including getting the car's tire patched from a nail.  It is a good thing Dan found the nail the night before while we were in the state park.  The tire was leaking air and it would have been deflated by the time we started across the Overseas Highway.  Finding pullovers big enough for our 38 ft rig plus a car are few along the way.  We would have had some major damage if the tire had gone flat while we were towing it.  We made it safely to Sigsbee NAS without any more incidents if we don't count some of the crazy drivers.  ;)

On The Cutting Board
I finished two more quilts.  Binding done.  I need to pre-wash them before listing them.  The photos are a little hazy due to heat and humidity fogging up my lens.
Balloons and Trains
The Black Cat in Pink quilt is my favorite this time.  The pattern was quick, easy, and fun to make.
I had a little bit of the binding fabric leftover to make into a big bow for the Black Cat.  Now, he is styling!
Well, I need to go through my ever growing pile of UFOs to see what to work on next.  I should finish some more mug rugs or wall hangings or...gosh...there are so many and so little time.  eh!  Maybe, I'll think about it tomorrow and take tonight off...go out and watch the sunset....
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

One Adventure After Another (Zolfo Springs, FL)

We moved back to the RV park on Peace River in Zolfo Springs yesterday.  The last three weeks flew by!  One day we are setting up in Clermont and then it was time to move again.  What did I do with my time??  We did a little shopping and stocking from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  Below are two photos of an inviting walk area next to Trader Joe's store.  
near Trader Joe's in Winter Garden
I wish we had discovered the Winter Garden's area earlier.  It is a very nice quiet haven to visit with new shopping areas and restaurants sprinkled with nice walking areas, fountains, and ponds.  Maybe on our way back north next year, we will be able to explore this area a little more.
 

Besides shopping and working on quilt projects and spoiling cats, I also did a lot of reading.  My adventures have been coming from books....lots of adventures and a whole lot of great reading.......
Sandstorm by James Rollins
I borrowed this one from an online library because I wasn't so sure about reading a story about a Sigma Force.  I'm not much for reading books about ultra-secretive covert recruiting ex-Special forces or a lot of far-fetched fire fights.  So why would I read such a book.  The title sounded intriguing.  As a matter of fact, quite a few of Rollins' titles sound quite intriguing so I decided to read the first pages of this one on Amazon and I was hooked!

Talk about - Wow!  What a fantastic science thriller! A roller coaster ride of adventures!  Filled with the shades of Indiana Jones and "Arabian Nights" merged with nonstop action-packed investigating along with historical facts, myths, and science starting in London, England and ending in the lost city of Ubar, a.k.a. the Atlantis of the Sands that I could not put it down.

I had to look up the city called Ubar in Arabia.  You can find photos online of the ruins.  I have always been fascinated by the many desert ruins throughout Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and many others.  I wish I could see all of them, but I will have to be satisfied with the ones we saw in Turkey and the many European ruins and castles.

Turns out that only two of the characters are with the Sigma Force.  There is a mixture of archaeologists, scientists, and anthropologists to help explain the different discoveries as they search for the lost city.  There were two main characters, but the reader ends up following several throughout the book.  It was not hard to keep track of who was who.  The women are strong intelligent female characters.  The men are, of course, adventurous 'manly' men and...yea, they are smart too.  Along with the Sigma Force, there is a mysterious group of desert women and treacherous villains known as 'the Guild'.  All trying to get hold of a natural antimatter out in the middle of Saudi's desert while looking for a lost city during a mega storm makes for one explosive story.  Whew, almost left me breathless.

If you love adventure action type movies like Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure (I do!) then you will love reading this book.  I was surprised to find that the shoot-em-up moments did not take over the story or sound too far-fetched.  Okay, maybe some of them were, but I still enjoyed them.  I was captivated from the first chapter and could not stop reading until I got to the end.

...And here I was worried that my borrowed library book would end up due before I was finished.  Not the case!

The Silver WitchThe Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
So far, I have read three of Paula's books.  This one is my favorite by far!  I almost started the book over again just because it ended way too soon.

In a similar outline like Susanna Kearsley's book, there are two main characters.  In the present day -  Tilda, a young widow and a potter that is unknown to herself - a witch.  And from Celtic times in 910 - Seren, a seer, witch, and prophet to her lord Prince Brynach.  They are connected across time by their unusual albino looks, being different from the rest, and their powers.  My favorite character was Tilda's dog - Thistle, of course.  Not only was she very protective, she was also an intuitive, yet funny dog.

Tilda moves into a Welsh cottage that sits on a hill overlooking Llangorse Lake with an ancient man-made island called a Crannog - a popular way to defend and keep communities safe centuries ago.   I fell in love with the Welsh cottage.  The only thing missing was the English cottage garden and a thatched roof.  My dream cottage! Sigh!

Anyway, back to the story.  As in all of Paula's stories there is good versus evil magic.  This time she included more mystery and historical research.  The story moves along quickly and it was another book that I had a hard time putting down at times.

Some of the best parts of the book were not about witches or their power, it was listening to Tilda find her muse for her pottery.  Autumn leaves on an old oak tree near the sparkling lake or finding old Celtic interwoven designs.  Spending days working on designs, sketches, and molding her inspirations into her clay.  Even the description of building an old fashion fire kiln was wonderful.  I actually rewound to listen to her creative inspirations.  Wow, I miss those times when I would immerse myself in quilt designs with fabrics spread out all over the house, and walk out with several tops ready for quilting.  A little harder to do these days with limited space and time.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my traveling lifestyle, but it would be great to stop once in awhile and just spend a whole day quilting with no interruptions...well except to eat...and have tea...and yea, take the cats out for a walk....

Okay, sorry.  For some reason, this book really sets my mind to wandering at times.  As Tilda learns of her powers and the past, an evil power is also building strength.  It is looking to take revenge, but who and why is the question.  The ending is very satisfying and one I will enjoy listening to again.

On The Cutting Board
I made it to JoAnn Fabrics during our last stay in Clermont.  The JoAnns in Winter Garden is the biggest store I have ever been in!  All that fabric!  Oh gosh!  I wasn't sure I wanted to be in there and yet I could not leave because there was so much to see.  In the end, I spent more time and money in there than I had planned on....talk about being on cloud 9 when I walked outside.  I did manage to control my urge to buy a truckload of fabric.  Well, actually, I had a very good argument going with myself - there is no room in our motorhome for more fabric. Probably a good thing.  I did stock up on some backings and batting for the next couple of children's quilts.  I also bought some glass beads, threads, and other notions.  They can be squirreled away in some small cubbyhole.
I found this perfect hot pink leopard print to bind the Black Cat in Pink quilt.  Isn't it cute?  I'm not big on animal prints, but this time I heard it calling me....
I haven't decided the binding for the Laurel Burch cat quilt.  The backing will be quite colorful so if I get tired of looking at the front, well, I can turn it over.  Oh, did I mention that I am keeping this one for moi?  I went back and forth on keeping or selling or giving, but my awful quilting made that decision for me.  For some reason, I had a hard time keeping the puckers out of the quilt so this will be my quilt...puckers, goofs and all will keep me warm the next time we are in cold climates.
My Etsy shop is getting low, so I am working on getting some mug rugs done.  
A little sporadic in the making, but they are slowly getting done.  I might add some tea cups to some of the windows.
I decided to try selling some class C motorhomes on Etsy.  I probably will not make these very often since they take more time to make. 
Good grief, most of the day is gone!  I need to get off this computer and do some sewing!
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Done and Done (Clermont, FL)

Since returning to the RV park in Clermont, we have been watching hot air balloons fly by every morning.  Sometimes they were close enough for us to hear people talking and the roar of the burners.  Most of the time, they were off in the distance.
Yesterday was quite a bit different.  The balloons were east of us and rapidly descending into our park.
It made for an exciting walk for us.  Usually the campground is quiet in the early mornings.  Only a few people are out enjoying the cooler weather and except for a few sightings of cranes and balloons, there just isn't a whole lot going on.  This time was definitely different.  People appeared out of nowhere to watch the balloons land, and the cranes were running, not flying, away from the balloons.
The pilots did a wonderful job of landing by navigating around tall trees, buildings, and rigs.  One landed between sites near a trailer.  Imagine looking out your window to see a hot air balloon sitting next to your rig!
The other three were able to land in open space near the center and once their chasers showed up they were soon deflated, packed, and gone like the wind.  Sigh!  What a great morning!

On The Cutting Board
All right!  Three quilts done!  Quilting - Done!  Binding - Done!  Okay, I do have another three more to finish and I am working on them right now.  So, I should have more photos soon.
I got a little more creative with the flower by quilting in the center and petals.  I also did more loops than squiggly lines to imitate bees flying around.  On the bear quilt, I did clouds, heart shaped balloons, stars, and swirls of wind.  It was a nice change from the usual meandering.
I finished the Macaw's Welcome wall hanging.   I might try this one again on a smaller scale so I won't have to do as much hand quilting in the open space.  The words can certainly be made smaller and still be able to read them.
Does the "Welcome" look like his toy?
I was going to use beads but the glass bead collection I was gathering together were starting to feel rather heavy.  I was afraid they would cause some problems with the lightweight wall hanging laying flat.
The buttons worked a lot better.  Lightweight and bright, they look like part of a birds toy.  Oh, and I added a few bells.  Got to be able to make some noise while he is playing, right?

I also finished my Hawaiian Turtle block!  It is now a HUGE pillow.  22 inches to be exact, but still it is so big compared to all my other pillows.
See, it is even bigger than the back of our couch.  Dusty can hide behind it.  He likes to hide under my quilts while I am working on them.  Although, he wasn't quite sure why I was putting this big pillow on top of him.
One good thing is that Dan says he plans to use the big pillow.  It is nice to know it will not be wasted just taking up room on the end of the couch.  Well, I have more things on my list that I would like to check off soon so I better get to them....
Happy Quilting!

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