Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vacation - part two - the good stuff!!

That was mean, wasn't it!! Where was I?? Oh yes, Palm Springs. The first day, while Rick went to the practice range, I headed to the laundry mat. Next door to a yogurt store [score!!] And we had our best Italian meal in PS. Not that the others were not good. But you know that feeling after your first bite; where you say, "Wow!" That happened here!

But the Doni's favorite part of vacation started Wednesday morning.

Do you know Sweet P - she's from Canada and winters in Palm Springs. I've been following her blog for a while. Really got to know her when we were both in the Christmas Quilt Blog Tour by SewCalGal. So - I contacted her when I knew we were coming to Palm Springs and asked if I could join in the Wednesday sewing day. And she said, "Yes!" I did a happy dance, but ladies, as fun as it looks on the blog - oh my, It's even better than that!!

And you know what happens when two ladies who 'know' each other on the web meet - it's an instant party!! Add 14 other quilting ladies who are just as nice as nice can be ... well, it's a perfect day!

Those quilters are so-o nice. And talented!! It was heaven to be there for the day. I got to see projects, consult and be consulted, have a great pot-luck lunch, and just spend the day with 14 quilters --- heaven!! Even Sweet P admits that she hates to go home; 'cuz she misses this wonderful group!!

All day they made me feel like I was a member of the group. I'd been on the road a week. Now granted - it was a wonderful week with my DH ... but there had been no quilting!! I've already made my DH promise that next year we'll be in Palm Springs for at least TWO Wednesdays!!

Thursday, and the fun continues! My friend L, who was a neighbor in Newport OR when I lived there, also has a home in Beaumont - just up the road from PS. She came over to PS for the day.

We started with lunch at Sherman's - didn't I tell you those sandwiches were H*U*G*E?? And just for the record ... I always shared those monster sandwiches with someone!! You have to share or there is absolutely no chance of sharing one of their awesome desserts!! LOL!

We wandered around downtown, stores and the museum, after lunch, ending back at the Hotel to see what quilts I brought with me ... and a Strawberry Daiquiri at the bar. What can I say - by Thursday I was addicted!!

Friday some of Sweet P's group were going to the Redlands Quilt store, Calico Horse, for their sale. I was able to talk L into going with me - and even driving us from her house. We even met Sweet P and the gals at the Calico Horse. Got to see lots of goodies. [Stashbusters, forgive me!!] I hadn't seen a store that stacked with Civil War fabrics since, well, since last year's visit to the Midwest!! [and on sale!!! - oh, I saved LOTS of money that day!!]

I had fun ... way too much fun!! And so did L! I think I got her back to quilting daily. She bought a Layer Cake and we studied the video of Double Slice on YouTube and made a few blocks before I headed back to PS.

Thanks, ladies - I really needed a quilt fix. Not just a buying frenzy - although that was nice too. I needed to talk quilts with like-minded people and boy, I was in the right place!!

Saturday morning R & I hit the College Street Fair [fast shopping got me a new Baggalini purse, 3 pillows for the grandkids and those silly balls that flatten out when you throw them down and then we tried to beat the bad weather out of there.

The rain in LA was educational!! Really, people drive 70 mph thru pouring rain with visibility at about 20 ft??? Holy Crap! But we managed to stay out of their way and escape the madness unscathed.

Two days to get home and the bad weather was here too!! Hence, the retreat to the couch to ponder why-oh-why did we come back so soon???? LOL!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We're back ... but apparently I extended my vacation at home!

We had the most lovely time in Palm Springs and the places we stopped along the way. The weather chased us home early ... and then bad weather visited us here. It was just prudent to curl up on the couch with DVR and library books while it whistled and howled outside! Curling up on the couch is my usual defense against too much to do. Funny - how all those projects ganging up on me didn't get done by the elves while I was gone!! Still there! And still there a week after getting home!! Bad Quilter!!

But more about our trip!! First stop was San Francisco! We love to stay at an older hotel by Fisherman's Wharf. Columbus Motor Inn. The picture above is the view of the Coit Tower out our room window - like hanging out of it!! The rooms were all updated last year, the staff is awesome, giving directions and advice for any questions you have, and FREE parking in the city!! Very unusual!

The first night we ate at Scoma's. It's out on a wharf - not the upscale one, a working wharf!! But OMG!!! The food was so-o awesome! I had crab ravioli and I've been dreaming of it ever since! Rick had the crab cakes, also 'to die for'.

Have you ever overheard a conversation in a restaurant you just NEED more information about?? One that you want to dive right in and stand up for one of the people?? Oh, yes, we were sitting next to one of those! And it was so hard not to laugh, it was so-o how we remember dealing with our moms along the way.

Apparently the 'man our age' was flying both of them to NYC the next day for a family/or longtime friend's big celebration. Here's what we heard ...

Older woman: Why are you doing this for her?
Man our age: Well, you know she did alot for [you?] mom with us kids when we were growing up.
Older woman:[very loud] She DID NOT!!!
Man our age: Now, you're going to have to be polite when we get there.
Older woman: Well, I'll be polite, but I'm NOT going to LIE!!!

It was so hard not to giggle! And we absolutely wanted to lend our support to the 'man our age'!! We ALL have these conversations with our parents as everyone grows older! AND we all giggle about them later!!

Luckily for everyone, food was delivered and we all got distracted!!

The next day we bummed around SF on Cable Cars and had so much fun. The weather was warm and partly cloudy. The hotel is only a block from the beginning of one of the cable cars - so you can usually get an outside seat!! My favorite! First stop Union Square. Britex Fabric is down there and - yes, it's really fun to explore.

I got there a little early, so was just standing there when I noticed the store window next door! Isn't it awesome - handcranks as window treatment!! All windows, including the second and third floors!!

I bought one half yard of Japanese fabric there last year. Didn't get off so easy this year!! I discovered the Notions floor. They have boxes and boxes of buttons!! The old white boxes with the buttons 'sewed' to the outside end so you can see what's in the box!! Very low tech!! And they're not all expensive ... until you buy enough for all your friends and a few quilt groups!!

I also broke down and got a half yard of a Japanese shirting with crabs on it! It was a really fun stop! We ate lunch at R&G's Lounge in Chinatown. Best Chinese food anywhere!! R's favorite, and he's a world traveler!

The next two evenings we ate in North Beach, the "Little Italy" of SF. But don't call it that while you're there!! [Touchy subject!] We had excellent meals, one night listening to a jazz trio as we ate.

The second day we headed out to Golden Gate Park [via cable car and city bus]to the Institute of Science [Museum]. It's an awesome museum with an aquarium in the basement and a 'rain forest' filled with butterflies upstairs. With lots of stellar exhibits between. There were buses filled with school children sharing the museum with us. Half the fun is watching their reactions to everything too.

Every time we stay in SF we love it even more. It's only 6-ish hours from our house, but two grandkids live 6-ish hours the other way; so-o-o-o it loses out for most of our trips. SF is one of the perks of going to Palm Springs - it's on the way!!

After 2 full days [food and activity-wise] we got up early, to avoid the traffic, and headed South out of town. Next stop - Santa Barbara.

R has fond memories of SB. His parents came out to visit his mom's brother and family when he was 5. And apparently there was some thought of moving there, because R started kindergarten there with his cousin. It's a fun little town with great architecture. We had a new place to stay, right on State St. Hotel Indigo - a new micro-hotel. It was a great location but just a tad too micro for me!! Our room had a king-size bed in it, which took up most of the floor space. And the bathroom was really interesting, you opened up a glass door against the toilet to make a shower stall before showering! But we got used to it fast!!

The funniest thing was the desk light came on by itself during the night - and being a small room, it was right in your face. I 'argued' with it several times and then just wrapped one of our coats around it!! You don't mess around with my sleep, thank you very much!

We ate on the wharf the first night, and then at our favorite Italian restaurant the second. There was great food all through our trip!! One of my favorite meals was breakfast here! I had THE BEST fresh fruit, Greek-style yogurt with granola! Gotta figure out what brand granola that was and where I can get it!

We also drove over to Carpinteria to visit a quilt store. My DH is the best!! Roxanne's is a 'second start' for the owner who had a 'Top 10' quilt store a few years back. I guess she decided to retire, then the renter left and well, why not reinvent the quilt store. Very fun mixture of gifts, knitting supplies, wool and bright fabrics. What was fascinating to me was the wall quilts designed by the owner. She's working on the patterns and I'm anxious to get them in my hot little hands!

After 2 nights in SB, it was a straight shot to Palm Springs. Well, it would have been without the 'detour' in LA. Detour = exit here - and ne'er another sign to guide us!! But we found our way and didn't got through any 'really' bad neighborhoods! But we were glad to see I-5 again.

First stop in Palm Springs was Sherman's Deli for lunch. Sherman's was pretty much a stop everyday - we may have overdosed on pastrami sandwiches!! We stayed just across the street from it at Hotel Zoso. Fun hotel with a great pool BAR! It was NOT a micro-hotel! Every afternoon when the maid came, we took a book out to the pool and had a frozen strawberry daiquiri!! And Life was G*O*O*D!

The pool, though heated, was only 4 ft deep. I tried some water aerobics moves in it early the first morning - but it was too shallow and the air was too chilly. It was basically a pool to dip into to cool off when you were sunbathing and entertain any kids!! There WAS great people watching around the pool!

Again it was hard not to giggle when 2 shapely young women went in. Soon one was doing somersaults under the water. She popped up and asked, "Can you do that?" The 2nd girl glared at her and said, "I'm NOT two [yrs old]!!!" LOL!

Next post - the most exciting part of my vacation!! Stay tuned for more adventure in Southern California!! [insert evil laugh here!]

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Everything's coming together .... but they all need to be done at the same time!

Ever have one of those months??? Where all you seem to do is spin your wheels - and add to your list.

Last week, I was in a 3 day class with Jill Schumacher, Quiltmaker to the Queen. She's a great teacher. Giving you baby steps until you're doing amazing things with your DSM. We dropped our feed-dogs and never put them back up in 3 days!! We did free motion quilting using guidelines, we couldn't turn the fabric - we quilted in all directions. Reminded me of those handwriting exercises we used to do in elementary school - until we had to sew backwards! Next we traced out designs and FMQed along the lines and then FMQed just using the lines as guides. Doing "Jill's Waffles" and "7 Secrets of Buddha".

We worked on Trapunto projects and three of us traced Sashiko wall quilts [5-6 hours of tracing!!] I have three 16" projects almost finished. One 16" project marked, pinned and ready to go and then the Sashiko wall quilt marked. It's a fascinating method and she told us we didn't have to buy a long-arm - we could do it all ourselves. That made several husbands very, very happy!! LOL! Projects will be pictured once they are finished.

My last class of Digital Scrapbooking was last week. I learned alot and of course, my class project isn't anywhere near finished!! I wanted to bring up "My Quilts Scrapbook" up to date. Right now it stops in 2000. I've made a few since then!! I made a template and I'm happy with it. Now I just have to gather up pictures of all [127 count] quilts and projects; make sure I have the measurements; and write out the descriptions. Piece of Cake, right?? Not so much. And then there's the decision - go with the new format? Continue the old format?? Old format is definitely cheaper ... but, the new method is more fun!! Oh, dear!

The majority of those quilts are long-gone and if I can't find a picture ... well, I know I took pictures of 98% of them. BUT some on film, some on our digital camera, some with the phone camera and some with a friend's camera --- did she give me the print?!?! I'll have to see if I can 'round them up'!! It simply all takes time! And that's what I'm complaining about!

Our guild show is Memorial Day Weekend. They want the 'stay robins' and the challenges done for it, and of course, other quilts too. I don't register any quilt that isn't done by the registration deadline ... I have learned that much!! But a quick trip to Palm Springs and my annual 'Mom's Birthday' trip is between now and that deadline.

I'm still hooked on Pinterest - and of course, that doesn't help the time situation either!! But it's too much fun!! Okay - that's enough whining for today!! Sorry!!

Back to the sewing room - I'm working on my guild challenge today - anxious to see if it's actually going to work!