Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Moving South (Lakehills, TX)

Yesterday was a travel day!  We moved deeper into the south of Texas and hill country.  I'm not sure the cats enjoyed our long trip today, but I certainly enjoyed the scenery along the way.
Dusty:  Did she say TRAVEL DAY?!  oh no...
Max: Yep, that's what I heard.  I hope those outdoor cats are not joining us.
Squirrel:  Me too!  I chased that one cat away twice and he still came back!
Dusty:  Sigh....but I like it here.  Can I go outside one more time...pleeeease?
Before we left Whitney, we had two beautiful days of sunshine this week.  I took the opportunity to get a couple of photos of the Hillsboro's Courthouse.  Since the courthouse sits in the center of town, we could not miss it every time we drove through.  Many of the small Texas towns have these majestic courthouse buildings.  
We could see the clock tower long before we got within a couple of courthouse.  Once we were able to get a closer view, the details were amazing.  I love the clock tower along with the dormers, 
gables, and wrought iron.  I felt like we were somewhere in Europe.  
Of course, I had to take a couple of close-ups so I could share.
The column tells the story about the bell.  I should have taken photos of the story.  Short memory problem.
Bell rescued after a fire
The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

Amazon recommended this book because I'm a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen. When I read the description, I thought this was a story that I was really going to enjoy reading.  Some of the reviews mentioned this story paralleled Practical Magic.

For centuries, the women of the Van Ripper (Rip Van Wrinkle kept popping up in my mind...hmm) family had the power to knit spells into their projects.  They have lived in the same old house in Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow since the Revolutionary War.  The potential of knitting a magical story about three sisters bonding, a love story, and saving the town square did sound quite interesting, but...

it turns out that the story had a hard time keeping my attention.  I kept hoping the story would finally hook me, but it never happened.  I got to the point that I started to skim just to finish it.  I'm not sure if it was the living conditions (living in a decrepit dusty old house) or the main character just didn't appeal to me (she seemed a little too mousy for someone with a mystical mysterious family background).  Plus the magic seemed to get explained away instead of leaving it to the reader's imagination.  Anyway, just because I did not like the book, some of you might enjoy it. 

On The Cutting Board
Speaking of magic, I saw "Snowmen A to Zzzz..." from Crabapple Hill Studio a couple of years ago and it put its own spell on me.  I just could not forget about it.  Each time I have seen a finished quilt with these cute snowmen, I would consider buying the pattern again.  Recently, I saw another finished one in a quilt show online and I gave in.  Yep, like I really need another project...I ordered the pattern anyway.  Can you guess which block I started with?  It wasn't 'A'.  ;)
I have also been working on more red and aqua Happy Campers.  Three embroidered and three more to go before I move on to the next step.

Time to go to bed.  I need to get some rest so I can get an early start on all my projects!
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Heritage Homestead (Whitney, TX)

For my birthday this year, Dan took me to Cafe Homestead located on Heritage Homestead's 510 acres  near Waco.  The cafe offers fresh organic limited menu.  My falafel pita with sweet potato fries was delicious especially the sweet potatoes.  So much flavor that I barely used my ketchup.  The best part was the quiet atmosphere.  No loud talking customers or music to talk over.  After lunch, we walked around the grounds visiting the different craft buildings.
Cafe Homestead
Heritage Homestead is a religious community living a simplistic lifestyle using basic hand tools to work and live off the land.  No machinery is used.  The farmland is plowed by horses.  Sheep are hand sheared.  Wool is hand carded.  Everything is handmade...metal work, woodwork...
Wood shop ~ love the door!
...weaving, spinning, sewing, pottery, soap, and so much more.  Oh, and the quilts!  Wow!  Such beautiful workmanship.  Two of the quilts were made by a 15 year old.  Points were right on with small even hand-stitched quilting.  I can hear my quilt hoop calling to me.  I need to blow the dust off of it and start hand quilting again.  

You can see some of their fine craft products on this link.  They even have classes for anyone interested in learning the traditional ways.  I would love to take a pottery class or a spinning class and a weaving class.  They also hold a fair twice a year to show visitors how they till the earth and make their crafts.
pottery wheel
Did I mention that they also do community barn raising?   They also save old barns by restoring them to their original beauty.  We talked to one woman about how the building we were standing in used to be in New Jersey.  Below is a restored barn appropriately called The Barn filled with all kinds of wonderful handmade items.  You can see some of their fine crafts here.   You can see little bit of the inside of the barn if you go to Gift Barn and click on more photos.  Oh, and check out the quilt hanging from the second floor.  That was just one of many handmade quilts.  
Here's a close-up of the barn doors, but it doesn't look like they open them any more.  We went through the small door to the left.
Old barn doors
I would love to have this one for a home with the water wheel.  This is the Grist Mill.  The pancake and muffin mixes were very temping to buy.
Restored old barn - Grist Mill
The other side of the grist mill

The people are not Amish or Mennonites, but they do dress simple.  Women in mid-length calf dresses/skirts.  Their hair is worn in a bun.  Men wear buttoned shirts.  No t-shirts.  I noticed that the young people look healthy and not a single one had a skin problem that I often see on most teens.  Not a single older person shuffled or labored to get across the room.  Something we see all too often when we are grocery shopping.  
pathway between buildings
I'm sure their lifestyle is a lot of hard labor, but at the same time, this lifestyle has a better quality of health than most modern lifestyles.  They do have computers as you can tell from their websites, and of course, all utilities.  They believe in strong family values, so I'm sure there is no computer games at night for kids or TV for that matter.  They also have their own school.  All the children live and learn on within the community.  It must be quite a culture shock for a child to leave home and see our busy techno, not to mention, noisy world.

On The Cutting Board
My shop is open for business and I already sold four mug rugs.  Two were the red and aqua Happy Campers, so I am already starting some more in the same popular colors.  I finished and listed the Bunnies in The Garden quilt last night.

And I finished the morning glories on the ladder. 
 I'm hoping this will be popular too because I really enjoy making this SW design.
I am finally caught up with my blog, so back to sewing!
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Better Late (Whitney, TX)

Than never...right?  Late on posting...Late on wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you were able to spend time with your love ones.  Since we traveled the day before, we spent a quiet day at home and had a couple of our favorite dishes.  No big spread this year with just the two of us.  I rather enjoyed the change of pace.  The only turkey I prepped this year were the two below for my shop.  
The WiFi has been very weak here.  We are in Whitney, TX until 17 December.  Hopefully, the new location will have a stronger signal and I can do a better job of posting my blog.

In between sewing, I have been doing a lot of reading.  This one is a quilt theme cozy mystery:
Motif for Murder by Karen Lowe
This story addresses women living in abusive situations more than it does about Browen's quilt detective work.  There is an old quilt along with a past and present mystery, but for most of the story, Browen is busy trying to help and support several abused women while the local community seems to close their eyes to the situation.

In between helping others, Browen has been asked to help with the opening of the new art museum in the renovated old mill.  Reading about the history of sheep farmers, spinners, and weavers in the little Welsh town really kept my interest.  That and Browen fiber art quilt portraying fairies dancing in the woods from an old Welsh story.  The ending wasn't too much of a surprise, but the reading was pleasant and left me feeling good.  It would probably be nice if the world was filled with more gutsy Browens around.

Before the cold front came through, we were getting the cats outside every day.  Hitch shows his approval of our new location by running up and down the motorhome.  "Time to go outside!  See all this energy I have?"  He is wearing a trail into our wood floors with all the running back and forth.  He rarely shows that much enthusiasm.  This one is perfect for him.  I can hear him counting off the good points: trees to climb, bushes to explore, campgrounds to snoop, and dirt roads to walk along with no traffic.
Hitch enjoys his new chin scratching place
Can I take this with us?
We haven't been out exploring too much due to the colder weather.  We did drive to the east side DFW a couple of days ago, but I did not take my camera.  It was such a dreary day with icy cold wind!  Brrr!  So, I took some photos of the fall colors that I have been enjoying around our site.

On The Cutting Board
We have been spending time at the park's community center, so I have been able to load up all my new photos for Etsy.  I have 21 new items to list.  I just need to do a little tweaking here and there in the listings and I will be ready to open my shop for business again.  Here's a sneak peak of my new items.

I have been missing my southwest style garden since our return to Texas.  I decided to design a trailer with a southwest theme by embroidering a Pueblo ladder, a flowering barrel cactus, and an ocotillo cactus.  I plan to add morning glories to the ladder just like I had in my own garden.  I'm enjoying this so much that I have already cut out three more SW theme trailers so I can make more desert gardens.
I also put together two more Santas from Nancy Halvorsen's pattern.
Actually, I have a whole pile of more mug rugs to embroider and sew together, so I better get back to them!
Happy Quilting!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Under the Clumps of Mistletoe (Bridgeport, TX)

We are happy to be in Texas with some warmer weather.  There were a couple of cold nights and freeze warnings, but nothing like we had in Oklahoma.  The cats are enjoying their new surroundings.  Plenty of space to roam and explore.  
Hitch and I like the tree across the street from our site.  Somehow, we end up standing under it every time.  Both of us staring up at its big limbs until Hitch decides to climb it.  Well, he tries to climb it.  He gets to the middle of the trunk, stop, reevaluates, and drops to the ground.  I do believe this tree has become a challenge for him and he is hoping to make it to one of the limbs before we leave.  Yea, I don't that will be happening since his leash is not that long.

The campground is located next to a lake.  We can see that the drought has hit hard here since the lake must be a good 30 feet below the dock and boat ramp.  We did have rain the night before and all day yesterday.  It just needs to do that a little at a time for the next six months to replenish the water.  Too bad there is no way to redirect the NE snow towards Texas.
I did not realize how much I missed the old gnarly Mesquite and cactus landscape until we got to Texas.  Going for walks around the campground, I would find myself looking for mistletoe clumps in the trees.  The tree looks a little funny with it completely bare except for the strange clumps of green hanging from its limbs.  
Did you know that mistletoe is considered a parasite to softwood trees?  The seed burrows into the wood and gets it nourishment from the tree.
I did not know that until I read that little trivial fact from a cozy murder mystery by Susan Wittig Albert called Mistletoe Man.  China Bayles is a lawyer turned Herbalist with the kind of store I would love to visit.  In this book, China is collecting mistletoe for holiday decorations. I haven't read one of Susan's books in a long time.
I learned quite a bit about plants and herbs when I was reading her books.  We even visited a herb garden cafe that was suggested in one of her books.  I loved walking around the gardens and sitting under the arbor while we had a snack.  I wish I could remember the name of the place, but it was too long ago.  I was inspired to plant lavender along our front sidewalk so people would have a fragrant walk to our door.  I should see what China is up to these days.

On The Cutting Board
I'm thinking of opening my shop in December.  I'm not sure I should open early since I left a message in my shop saying it would be opening in January.  Should I open early or keep it closed?  I have 30 items so my shop would not look so sparse or I could have more if I wait....arrrgh!
With that thought bouncing around in my head, I started making some of my old mug rugs from Nancy Halvorsen. I'm using brighter and more bolder colors for a change of pace.  I'm also starting some new Happy Campers and a few more Owls as well.
I also started cutting and prepping for some new quilts.  I went through the last of my stash that I had packed away at our daughter's house.
I was very happy to find this Japanese Crane fabric.  I had turned our motorhome upside-down one day looking for this fabric.  I finally thought I had given this fabric away.  Yes!  I still have it!
I can even remember what I wanted to do with the crane fabric, so I did not wait too long to start cutting up some matching batiks and getting the cut fabric into a quilt kit.
Of course, this is not the only fabric I discovered and brought back with me.  What?  Uh...the fabric is calling to me...the rotary is ready....so back to the cutting board I gooooo...
Happy Quilting!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter Came In (Lawton, OK)

Like a Banshee!  Howling and screeching with heavy winds pounding the side of our motorhome for the first three days of our stay in Lawton.  Then, it calmed down for a couple of days, got its second wind and came back with a vengeance....
...this time bringing with it snow, sleet, and more heavy winds.  We woke up on our second to last day to our car and the motorhome covered with a sheet of ice on one side.  
The cats claimed they were brave enough for the weather.  Yep, they lasted less than a minute and I thought I was spoiled!
We were suppose to leave today (Monday), but decided to delay our travel south until tomorrow.  We will give the cold front another day to move out of the area and for the roads to dry.  The sun is out and it looks inviting except for the temperature....yea, I'm with the cats....I think I'll stay indoors.
come pet me
We spent this last week having a wonderful visit with our daughter and our two granddaughters along with their two cats.  I could only get a photo of Flower.  She loves attention until I pulled out the camera.  She must have said something to Indy because he did not come out of hiding until after I put up the camera.
what are you doing?
Now that's a family portrait!  Don't they look like they are a lot of fun?  You bet they are.  We had a great time catching up with all three of them.  We took Bry and Vi out shopping while their mom was at work.  We found out that Vi needs everything that catches her eye whether it is a bracelet, an adult size Mario themed PJ's or Chick-Fil-A nuggets.  
In the meantime, Bry proved to be quite a young lady and very grown up by making sure Vi focused on getting what she really needed - shoes while she shopped for jeans.
Bry is in high school and also attending Upward Bound at the university.  We are very impressed with how well adjusted and mature both our granddaughters have become in the last three years.

On The Cutting Board
Or maybe that should say On the Operation Table
This is Pirate Bunny (PB).  He has been Vi's constant companion to the doctors' office, clinics, and hospitals since she was diagnosed with Hashimoto.  He was looking a little frazzled from all the caring hugs he has given Vi over the years.
Vi decided it was time for PB to get some extra loving care.  When we arrived, PB had his own hospital bed with visitor's rules so he would get the ultimate rest.  Vi showed me all PB's wounds and I asked her if he was going to have surgery.  She nodded and said she hoped he would very soon.
I asked who was doing the surgery.  She looked right at me and said "I hope you will do it."
So, PB came home with us for the night and I'm happy to say the surgery was a success.  He was feeling so good that he even got a tattoo!
Pirate Bunny went home feeling stronger and energized for the next visit to the doctor's office with Vi.
I gave Vi her quilt this week.  As you can see, she is enjoying her new quilt.  I found out that purple and pink are her favorite colors.  Which is good since I started this quilt almost 4 years ago.  I'm happy to say that this quilt will probably look like Pirate Bunny someday.
It was hard to say good-bye this time.  I hope we will be able to see them again soon.  Tomorrow, we will be heading for Texas and hopefully for some warmer weather.
Happy Quilting!

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