Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remember, I'm a quilter

I realized that it has been a long time since I actually posted a photo of any of my quilts and believe me, I still have lots of quilts to show. Sometimes I find that I am so used to the quilts that surround me on a daily basis that I almost don't notice them. That is the case with this one. Back last summer when I finished that bathroom that I remodeled, I hung this quilt in that room. But since it is a guest bathroom, I seldom go in there. But when I do, I find myself spending a few extra moments just gazing at this quilt.

The pattern for this quilt is a commercial one and it is called "Mexican Star". It was the project of a class that I took back in September 2005. It was an extremely delightful pattern to follow and it was completely finished by November 2005. I don't have a lot of quilts that I have made that have a dark background but I think it is very dramatic and works perfectly in this case.

My version has more of an asian feel because all of the fabrics I used are oriental prints.

Here is the back of the quilt where you can see the theme fabric that I used as my color inspiration. Yes, those are Koi fish. You really can't tell that there are fish in the fabric on the front side but I really do love this fabric so I used it anyway. I had a fat quarter of this fabric but with a dark blue background that I initially thought I'd start with but I knew a fat quarter wouldn't be enough and since I had purchased the fabric about 2 years before, I knew I wouldn't be able to find it in my local quilt stores. I was lucky enough to find it on the internet but when it arrived -- ta da, it was the sky blue background instead. Which I think worked lots better anyway.

This quilt was machine pieced by me and then machine quilted by my friend, Betty Bird. It is not very big; it is only 32" square but it is a sweet treat for my eyes.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Welcome to the 21st Century!

I almost hate to admit what I'm going to blog about today but I'm so excited about it that I have to any way!

What a great way to multitask and read at the same time!!
Now, I've known about audiobooks but I have just never tried one before and now I'm hooked!

I downloaded this book ("Sam's Letters to Jennifer" by James Patterson) before I went on my cruise but I must have goofed up because I couldn't get it to work right while I was gone. Last week, I redid my download and got it right this time. I came home from the cruise to a very neglected house so I decided to listen to my ebook while I was cleaning. Two treats in one -- a clean house and a great story! Then this weekend Paul and I had to make a quick trip down to southern Utah and once again, listening to a book while driving made the miles pass by in no time and even calmed me during the tense, snowy, treacherous road conditions. Usually neither of us wants to drive because we have a good book that we are hoping to get to read instead of being bored silly while hanging on to the steering wheel and snacking on junk food.

Ok, so now that I am somewhat caught up to all you fore-front, leading-edge, tech-savy people, where do you like to get your audiobooks from on the internet? I got this first one from the apple store at I tunes but the selection seemed limited. I'd love any suggestions you can share with me. Thanks and go LISTEN to a good book!
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Jamaica man!

Here is a shot of Ocho Rios (translated: 8 rivers), Jamaica. The landscape in the other 2 ports, Key West and Grand Cayman, were both totally flat. So this was a more scenic view to wake up to the morning we arrived in Jamaica. We were pretty low key with our event planning before arriving at our ports of call so as Paul & I walked off the cruise ship (Heidi had a "chill out" day) we weren't quite sure what to do. After considering some options, we decided to find a taxi and go for a tour of the island -- well, what we could see in 4 to 5 hours anyway. We found the most wonderful taxi driver/tour guide ever! This turned out to be a fantastic experience.

Here is Horace Hobson (aka Mark). He works for Maxi which is a taxi/touring company -- very legit company. His cell phone number is (876) 861-0153. If you are ever going to Jamaica, I HIGHLY recommend him! He is just an independent driver and if he has clients then he works and he gets paid. If he doesn't find any tourists then he makes no money. He was telling us that because so many people prebook their shore excursions that people like him get passed by and it is really hard on the locals. He said he had only had 2 other tours since Christmas eve. He is married and has a 12 year old son that he is very proud of. He wants so much more for his son. So for $70 he drove Paul and I through areas of Jamaica that I'm sure most tourists have never experienced. He was very knowledgeable and was especially anxious to tell us about all the plants and fruits. He told us how everyone basically lives off the land. If you click on the photo above, he is pointing at the bananas that are growing on that tree. They were everywhere! He says they belong to everyone and if you want on, you just pick one. He pointed out the different leaves and told us how to boil them or crush them or just chew on them and how they helped with different physical needs. We drove through local neighborhoods and saw all the kids in their school uniforms. Education is a huge priority here. All the students wear uniforms and you can tell from the uniforms if they are in the morning or afternoon classes or if they are in the specialty schools. All the students looked clean and sharp and very impressive.

He drove us through the ritzy neighborhoods as well. He showed us Mick Jagers home and Johnny Cash's also. He said that property there is quite cheap and property taxes are next to nothing and even if you don't pay your property taxes for like 10 years, the government won't ever take the property away from you.

Now here is a unique residence. Horace said that a 53 year old man lives here in this cave that is just right on the side of the road. He said the guy has lived here for about 30 years. It made me cringe to imagine someone living like this but then when I saw the "for sale" sign there out in front, I just had to smile!!!!!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Island time

So being the adventureous people that we are, when we disembarked on Grand Cayman Island we immediately hopped on some scooters and took off to see what we could see. Actually the real reason was to get out of the downtown area where it was jam-packed with tourists from 5! cruise ships in port at the same time -- crazy crowded! Heidi, Paul & I are really comfortable riding motorized vehicles like this since we have had dirt bikes and off-road motorcycles for ever. Heidi and all our kids learned to ride when they were 8. The part of this adventure that was a little unsettling to me was the fact that traffic drives on the lefthand side of the road. I guess a left over from the British colony days. I just kept telling myself to "stay left" and it didn't take long to adjust. The biggest challenge came when we had to deal with a roundabout intersection. Thankfully we were basically going straight so we didn't have to go around and around and try to break out. I think the locals are pretty used to sightseeing tourists but I wasn't sure if that meant they would be cautious or they would just love to get rid of a few if possible!

Grand Cayman is mostly known for its' fabulous beaches and beautiful, clear water that is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Of course one of the biggest tourist draws is Stingray City. Heidi has been to Grand Cayman several times before and she had done Stingray City on "cruise day" and she said it was not enjoyable so we opted for a land based experience. Here is Paul going to Hell! I have tried to warn him that he is headed in this direction but he hasn't listened and sure enough, look at that! Just kidding, honey because Heidi and I were right behind him! This was a quirky little destination. It is a section of the island where the beach is this rocky, black, rough shoreline -- no sand at all. Very unique. We drove through the authentic, everyday areas of the people who live here on this island. It was fun to see the kids playing soccer and clothes hanging out on the clothelines. They have these tiny neighborhood grocery stores that are about the size of a backyard shed but they are all painted very colorful. I loved the one that advertised cow heads, cow feet and cow tripe for sale. We did find a delightful, oceanside grill and stopped for a delicious lunch. I ordered my favorite seafood, coconut shrimp!

We couldn't leave without being able to say we have swam in the waters of Grand Cayman so on our way back to town, we pulled over and Paul went for a dip. Heidi and I got in about up to our thighs but the water was colder than we expected (or needed). Don't you just love that Carribean blue color of the ocean... so beautiful! And the sand was the softest sand I have EVER run my toes through! So there you go, another day in Paradise!
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Monday, January 19, 2009

All Aboard

Here was my home for the past week -- the beautiful, huge, luxurious "Carnival Freedom". Seven days was enough to get very used to all the pampering, non-stop eating and delightfully warm days and nights at sea! This is the 4th cruise that Paul & I have been on and it was very, very enjoyable. Just us and a few other passengers...

I mean, a few other thousand passengers! This was like living on a floating city! or maybe it should be considered its' own country since there were sooooooo many nationalities represented between both the passengers and then all the ship staff. But even with this many people onboard, it was still so much fun! We departed from Fort Lauderdale, FL and our ports of call were Key West, FL, Grand Cayman and Jamica with 2 "at sea" days. A perfect itinerary. We had never been to any of these places and I love seeing and experiencing new sights and cultures.

So here is the only other passenger that we really were excited to be traveling with! Heidi was the highlight of our trip! This was a business trip for her since she was one of the 5 scrapbook presenters. She taught her class 4 times and even did an extra, special inking demonstration one night. She had flown directly from Beijing to Florida which took a full 24 hours and she was pretty wiped out by the time she arrived but she was a trooper and was able to squeeze in lots of sleeping, teaching, visiting and babysitting her parents! The only thing that would have made the trip any better would have been to have everyone else in the family with us! She is doing another one of these cruises next January... anyone available?
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Friday, January 9, 2009

Packing up

Gosh this photo turned out lots darker than I expected but it does highlight the most important object... my Cruise scrapbook. Yes! Paul & I are taking off on an indulgent Carribean cruise! That in and off itself is a delight but the real reason we are going is because Heidi is coming from China for this cruise! One week with just Heidi, Paul & me ... well, and about a billion other people including lots of scrapbookers but still we get to hang out with our daughter, face to face, in the flesh, not on Skype! (sorry Eric and kiddies, we wish you guys were coming too!)

Heidi told us about this cruise way back last May. She is one of 5 presenters on this Scrapbooking Cruise event. When she asked if we might want to go, we jumped right on board! Who knew the economy was going to tank in the meantime. Oh well, money or memories... we're going for some great memories!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Post-Christmas clean up

From the looks of this shelf you would think that I have gone crazy with my cleaning and reorganizing ... not so!
Let me give you the story.
I had a huge extended family Christmas party at my house about the middle of December. It was a great success. Probably about 50 people showed up. There were guests of every age from infants to my 90 year old parents. I even asked the Elders that are living in our basement to please move all their belongings into their bedroom so the kids could play downstairs. By the end of the evening the basement was a total disaster. Paul was brave enough to go down there and pull it all back together while I cleaned up the main level and did all the dishes. The next day Paul asked me what I had done with all my Beanie Babies that I normally have displayed on the above shelf. He assumed that I put them all away before the party began -- which I didn't so you can imagine my surprise when I saw the entire shelf EMPTY. (By the way, No One is supposed to touch those little cuties -- not even my grandkids who actually do a pretty good job of resisting the temptation to cuddle them when I'm not looking.) We could not imagine where they all were! I couldn't imagine that all the kids took them home with them. So after some creative searching, here is what we found...

piles and piles of beanie babies stashed behind the couch!
I actually hadn't gotten around to pulling them out until today.

Here is what the pile looked like after I had thrown them all together. I was shocked! I knew I had alot but wow that is a LOT of Beanie Babies. I decided to count them as I organized them and put them into more secure, plastic storage containers. I found that I have 166 regular size babies, 40 mini sized babies and 21 Attic Treasures Beanie Babies. I quit buying Beanie Babies when they came out with the black teddy bear named "The End". I'm quite sure I'll never add up how much I spent on this collection but I have to admit, I do still really like them.
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