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!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

All Legs and Neck (Clermont, FL)

I hope everyone is having a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend!  They certainly are having a great time here with outdoor activities, bounce houses with a pool, and barbecues.  The campground is booming with activities and families.  Tonight, they plan to gather along the lake to watch Disney's fireworks display.

We moved back to Clermont, FL near Orlando on Wednesday.  We passed the rest of our time in Wauchula with walks and celebrating our 40th anniversary with my brother Jay and his wife Beverly.  We had a wonderful surprise visit with them.
Today, I thought I would just share some pictures with a different view of Sandhill Cranes. Since moving back to Clermont, the Cranes have visited our site at least once a day.
I took this opportunity to get photos of them using my 500mm lens from ground level.
I love the way they look - like they are made of nothing but legs, knobby knees, and a long neck.
They did not mind me taking their pictures.  They actually started moving closer at one point....until one male started giving his intruder alert.
  I thought he was upset with discovering me sitting on the ground, but when I put down my camera I realized he was alerting on one of our cats.  Squirrel was less than 15 feet away and trying to sneak up on the birds when I grabbed his leash.  Silly cat!  The Cranes walked away unconcerned by being attacked by a puny cat.  I think I was more worried.
I had enough photos so I brought out Hitch for some outdoor time.  He soon discovered that the Cranes had not moved on like I had thought.  He was a little smarter about not wanting to get too close.  Of course, my tight hold on his leash might have kept him from making that decision too.
I have been finishing up quite a few quilts and I hope to have photos to share soon.  I'm happy to be back in a populated area.  I need to get a little shopping done before we move farther south.  I just used up the last of my batting and I have quite a few more scrappy quilt tops planned for this winter.  There is no Joann Fabrics in Key West so I need to do a little pre-planning and stock up on batting and backings.
Well, I want to get back to my quilting so until next time....
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Passing Time on Peace River (Wauchula, FL)

I thought I should post something soon before someone thinks we have lost our way through the humid haze of Florida.  We are not lost.  We are just trying to survive the heat wave that has been breaking Florida's record this past month.  It is certainly hot here!  It is a little more than what I had wished for.... I know, I know...be careful of what you wish for!  Then again, I wasn't asking for a hot summer just a warm sunny dry winter.  After three wet winters, I felt we were due a warmer winter and I am still looking forward to this winter in Key West.
In the meantime, we are dealing with the heat wave by getting out early before the temperatures rise.  When it gets into the 90s with a heat index of 100+ with humidity, it is very hard to stay enthused about taking a walk around the park.  We do get a break from the heat in the late afternoons or early evenings with some terrific thunderstorms that shake our rig and a quick dump of ice cold rain.
Still, I have no complaints.  I prefer this over our freezing winds and rains where I had to wear layers just to take the garbage out to the dumpster.  We have made it a habit of spending about a half hour to an hour sitting outdoors with the cats in the shade before surrendering to our air conditioned motorhome to cool off.  Even the cats are getting use to the idea of going out several times a day for short periods of time.  So, now it feels like there is always someone begging to go outdoors....all day long.
suspended bridge
The photos here are from Paynes Creek Historic State Park.  We walked a few of the nature trails and visited a few of the historic sites.  There wasn't a whole lot left to the old trading post or fort.  I liked crossing the suspended bridge and seeing some different textured plants like the mushrooms below.

On The Cutting Board
I finished my first Hawaiian block with echo quilting.  I started out marking the background with a water soluble pen.  With this humidity, it was disappearing before I got around to the third turtle.  The air erasable disappeared even faster.
I decided to quilt the block without guide lines and I am quite happy with how well the echo quilting came out.  I thought for sure I would be all over the place.  Now, I need to decide what to do with my first Hawaiian applique....I think I'm going to keep it and make it into a pillow cover.  Granted it does not match our interior southwest decor theme, but we do have teal and that's a good match.  We need some new pillow covers.  My old ones are looking a frazzled and faded.  Hmmm, I'm thinking there are some new pillow projects in my near future.
I also started working on my quilt tops.  I plan to give a few to charity and a couple of them will be listed on Etsy.  I'm hoping to get all the quilt tops done before we get to Key West.
Well, I better get started on making binding for these three quilts.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Window Shopping Disney Style (Clermont, FL)

We entertained ourselves by visiting different shopping malls in the area and Downtown Disney.  
Talk about lots of photo ops for colorful pictures in Downtown Disney.  I took more photos than I did shopping, but shopping was fun too.
Downtown Disney is as grand as going to Disney World.  They even have a couple of different rides.
I like the Amphicars.  That looks like a fun ride and it goes my speed...extra slow.
They also have a balloon ride.  The basket is a ring so you can look straight down through the center. I bet the best scenes are the surrounding areas.  Talk about a panoramic view!
Did you play with Legos when you were little or with your kids?  I loved them while growing up....yes, they have been around for a couple of decades...no age jokes please.  Anyway,  I would also buy them every year for our kids.  They had a huge bin filled with them.  I can't imagine how many Legos went into this big guy.
Isn't he adorable?
Brickley, the Lego Sea Serpent
Okay, so I was curious enough to do a Google search and found out that there are 170,000 bricks and he stretches 30 feet from head to tail.  This site has photos of some amazing Lego designs with interesting facts about each one.  Make sure you check out #2 Warren Elsmore - gorgeous European style building. And #8 A Futuristic Japan made by school children using 1.8 million Lego blocks!

I love my TV shows in the evenings.  I really enjoy the ones with a little imagination like the ones J.J. Abrams produces - LOST, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, and many more.  So when I saw these two scuptures peeking out from the bushes near the Crossroads at House of Blues, I thought of "BAD ROBOT"!  He could be a cousin...
I love this fountain so I had to add it in.  I don't know a thing about the winged statue, but overall, she is quite interesting.

On The Cutting Board
I finished two Santa Mug Rugs and I will list them in Etsy after we move tomorrow.  I already sold all three of my Uncle Sam Mug Rugs.  Maybe I should have made a few more?  I suppose I could make a couple of more...
but I have been busy with some new Happy Campers with horses.
I try to make each one unique so I decided to do this one in shades of purple.
I was going to add different flowers to this one.  I changed my mind while we were walking around one of the malls in Orlando.  One of the kiosks offered hair extensions and a young woman was trying on different styles.  Eureka!  I can do that with my horse!  I braided the first extension and tacked it down.  I think on the second one, I will leave it as a fringe - shorter than what is showing.  Hopefully, this is not too bulky because I want add a flower or star button behind the ear.
Tomorrow is a short travel day to Peace River Thousand Trails.  This will be a new location for us to explore in between sewing and cat outings...of course!
Happy Quilting!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gator Country? (Clermont, FL)

When I think of central Florida, I think of Disney World and talking mice.  Not this time.  No, instead I find myself thinking and watching out for alligators and snakes.  
We are staying in a campground in Clermont, FL.  About 20 minutes away from Disney World. So far, I have not seen a single alligator in the campground's lake.  Although, we did hear a story about a woman finding one near her rig's doorstep one day.  Imagine stepping on that by mistake in the dark!
The only bad thing I have seen has been one big black snake high-tailing it for cover away from Dusty while I was shooing all the cats away from the bushes.  I gave them all a lecture to stay out of the woods and away from snakes.  Did they listen to me?...of course not, but I'm happy to say I have not seen another snake since then....well, not near our site anyway.
We see the Sandhill Cranes almost twice a day during our walks.  These two are smaller than I remember from our last visit.  They are about 3 feet tall.  They are not shy of humans and often walk right by us if we stand still.
It is starting to get very hot as we move into Hurricane Season.  I am starting to see the old pattern of a hot sunny mornings, dark threatening clouds by noon and sometimes a dump of big, not to mention, very cold rain drops.  By evening, the clouds have cleared for a cool evening.
We re-arranged our schedules to walk early in the morning and again late in the evening for cooler walks.  This is when I look for alligators, but they are staying well hidden.  Probably a good thing that they stay away from people, right?
On The Cutting Board
I usually like to spend my evenings sewing.  Now I am trying to get my sewing done in the afternoons.  I thought this would work out quite well for me.  For once I can sew without Max in my lap complaining about fabric and thread tickling him.  Ha!  He caught on real fast and started showing up in my chair by the third day.  There's no fooling him.
Begging puppy
 I finished all of the mug rugs.  Now, I just need to photograph, edit, and list them all.  That's a chore that I do not cherish, but I will be happy to have done.
Hello Friend!
 And Hooray!...I am finally listing the pictured mug rugs on Etsy.  But wait!  There's more!  Santas and Snowmen will soon be available!  :)
Wind-blown hair
Amazing!  I actually finished three Uncle Sams in time for the 4th of July this time.
and....3 Uncle Sams!
I'm making progress on my Hawaiian turtle block.  Batik is great for applique because it is so forgiving.  When I put a crease in and I can iron it right back out when I make a mistake.   So I was quite surprised that I find it is very hard to hand quilt through two layers of batik fabric plus muslin and batting.  I hope to finish it before we leave this area which is about 6+ weeks from now.
Time for some sewing....shhh, Max is in the back....if I am real quiet I might get in an hour before he realizes that he is missing out.....
Happy Quilting!

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