Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quilt Retreat

Well, I've had a few days to recover from the quilt retreat, though I definitely don't have all my energy back. The 13 of us had a fabulous time together at Lou Ann's. We could not have found a better place for hosting. We had access to her quilt shop the whole time we were there. So if at midnight, we needed fabric, thread, etc, we just walked over and got it for ourselves, writing it down on our tab as we went. This got pretty dangerous for some, as most of her fabric was 50% off.

We had plenty of room in the workspace to spread out. There were 12 big tables, so most of us didn't have to share, 2 large ironing boards, 2 cutting height tables, and 4 design walls. I had one of the long tables to myself and it was so nice to be able to spread everything out.
The tables also worked well for pushing things to the side and taking a quick snooze. I have no idea how some of the girls stayed up working til after 1 am. I didn't make it much past 10:00, but was usually up in the morning sewing way before they came down the stairs.

The upstairs sleeping quarters were so cute. There were 5 different 'apartments' for sleeping, and each of these were divided into smaller rooms and included a full bath with Bath & Body Works amenities.
This is where my sister, my mom, and I slept. Off to the left of the picture is a doorway into another room of the apartment where my MIL slept. The beds were so comfortable and the quilts gorgeous. She had 24 beds to choose from, all with at least 1 quilt on them and matching pillowcases.

Now to the sewing. Sara, Marlena and I made everyone a thank-you gift for attending. Sara made pillowcases, Marlena made sewing machine caddies (they rest under our machines and hold stuff), and I made water bottle covers. Thanks to Jen for the directions for the last two items.

I got 8 of my star blocks pieced (though before the weekend started I thought I'd get all 20 pieced and the top together). Everyone seemed to get a lot accomplished during the weekend: My sister completed her first-ever quilting project, a table runner, and pieced a wall-hanging; my mom completed a table runner and purse, and pieced a wall hanging, and my MIL got all the pieces done for an Ocean Waves quilt. The same quilt as my Shadow Play, which took me about 8 months to piece.I think the consesus from everyone was that we need to make this a yearly event and hold it at Lou Ann's, since it had everything we needed. Just have to make it through another school year that starts in THREE WEEKS first!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya

Tomorrow, you're only a day away. I loved watching Annie; can still sing most of the songs from heart. Wish I had time to watch it now.

I've been so busy these last two weeks, and I'd catch you up on everything (10-year class reunion, swimming, Keith Urban), but I just don't have the time. I'm busy preparing for tomorrow... well, except for writing this blog post. Tomorrow my quilting friends from Omaha (Sara, Marlena, and her mom) are heading up to NE Iowa to meet up with the women of my family and Sara's family. We're going to Lou Ann's Quilt Garden and Retreat to quilt the weekend away.

I'm so excited to go because I'm actually working on something just for ME. I've never made a quilt just for me, always others (though I suppose one could argue those I give Darrin are for me too), but this one will be for me. A throw in pink, brown, and cream in a star pattern. Can't wait to start. But before that happens, I have to finish up the gifts I'm making everyone and pack my suitcase. I'm so tired from the inservices I've gone to this week that I'll probably forget some sewing tool. At least I'll be retreating in a quilt shop and can buy whatever I forget. Hopefully I'll have pictures to post and maybe a thing or two to cross of the UFO list on the sidebar. We'll just have to see how productive I can be.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July

Darrin's parents brought Ian back to Omaha on Friday and we had a BBQ at our house with Marlena, Noah, and Sara. We served brats and hamburgers, beans, and watermelon. Marlena brought red, white, and blue Jello and Sara brought her spinach-strawberry salad. Noah made funnel cakes for dessert. I was stuffed!

We were lucky enough to have the rain hold off for our cookout, but not so much for the fireworks. We drove to the Botanical Gardens where Sara works to watch the big city fireworks they shoot off at Rosenblatt after the game. Shortly after we got their the skies opened up. It was already late and we weren't about to hang around to see how long they would wait to shoot them off. I guess they shot them off around 10:30, when we were getting home and putting Ian to bed.

Saturday proved to be a better day for celebrating. We went to the parade in Ralston. It was 1.5 hours long. I'd never been to a parade that long before. I had also never seen so many firetrucks or Shriners vehicles in a parade in my life. Ian was meserized by it all. It's the first parade he's really watched, all the others he was too scared or little to pay attention.
We went to the fireworks that night at Boys Town. I wasn't too impressed, but it was better than nothing. At least I got to try my hand at fireworks photography.

When we got back home, the neighbors were shooting off big ones in the neighborhood, so we hauled out Ian's sparklers. He had tried a few the night before after the BBQ, and he was much more receptive to playing with them tonight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

St. Louis Free Days

The rest of our days in St. Louis everything we did but eat supper was free, and we had TONS of fun. Saturday we spent most of the day at Forest Park, which is approximately 500 acres bigger than Central Park in NYC. It once hosted the World's Fair, and was packed with stuff to do. In the park, we visited the zoo, art museum, and history museum, all for free!

The zoo map bragged about being America's #1 Zoo, and we could tell why. We are frequent visitors to the zoo here in Omaha and thought ours couldn't be beat, but we were proved wrong. The animals at the STL Zoo weren't behind glass like at ours and you could get so close to them. They had a lot more animals than our zoo, too, as well as zoo employees near the animals to provide more information.

(Lion in the tree)

It was stifling outside that day (over 100 and very humid), so we didn't explore the whole zoo. Instead we headed for the free air conditioning at the art museum. I'm not that big on art, and unless it's a realistic painting/sculpture, I really don't get it unless it gives the back story. So the photographs taken by Ansel Adams they had on display, I got why that was art. The 8 nails in the wall they had connected by wire forming an octagon, I don't get why that was art; my students do that every year on peg boards when we study geometry.
(One of Monet's Water Lilies paintings)
(Degas ballerina bronze cast)

We spent a bit of time after the art museum in the Missouri History museum learning all about Lindbergh, who I discovered was so much more than just a pilot. We were pretty exhausted, so after resting at the hotel, we headed for supper in The Hill a.k.a. Little Italy. It was some great food. We went to Target for some picnic supplies and back to the hotel for sleep.

Sunday continued our free experiences in St. Louis. We started the day at the Holocaust Museum. It was an experience that is hard to put into words. Even sitting here now thinking back on what I read, saw, and heard there makes me shake my head. How one group of people can do this to another is beyond me, and the sad thing is things like that are still continuing in parts of the world. We must all learn to live by the Golden Rule.

After that emotional experience, we headed to Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis. They had some really cool, outside-the-box sculptures (and some that I thought, "What the heck?"). I'll just let you see for yourself:
(Noah setting up his large format camera shot)

After picnicing in the park, we headed to the GORGEOUS Cathedral Basilica St. Louis. It was built beginning in 1906. I've been to the Vatican and other churches in Europe and it reminded me a lot of those, except they were all painted by hand and this Basilica was done in mosaics. I could handle going to church there, because if I got bored, there's plenty of interesting sights to look at.(center dome)

For dinner that night, we headed to Union Station. The old train station had been converted into a Mariott hotel, along with shops and restaurants.
We went to the Arch to grab a few dusk shots, then it was back to the hotel and bed, because we were leaving STL early in the morning.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

St. Louis Part One

We spent most of our vacation in St. Louis (so be prepared for LOTS of pictures). I had never been there before, and I'm not sure why my parents never took us there for vacation. It wouldn't have been too far from home, and it was a lot of fun. Our first stop on Friday morning was the Gateway Arch. I was a bit freaked out riding to the top in this little circle "cube". They were so old and tiny, but making it to the top was worth it. Some of the pictures are from the morning when we were there, and then we went on Sunday to get some dusk shots. When we got to the top, I held the camera and snapped a bunch of pictures. My genius husband put them all together to make the panorama of downtown St. Louis.

View from the Arch

While Noah was shooting some shots of the Arch with his large-format film camera, Darrin and I checked out the old Courthouse next to the Arch. The Dred Scott trial took place there. The place was all decked out for the 4th of July. They were hosting a celebration like what would have taken place in 1857, so the flags they had hung up only had 33 stars.

We had to change our plans a bit after that, as the Cardinals game was standing room only, and we weren't going to stand. Instead we opted for a tour at the Budweiser brewery. The brewery was HUGE. It was more like a campus of buildings, and the buildings were SOOOOO gorgeous. We met some of the Clydesdale, froze in part of the building, and enjoyed two free beverages at the end.
(Can you guess who drank the pop?)

After a bit, we headed to City Museum. I'm not exactly sure why it's called a museum. It's more like an indoor/outdoor playground built out of recycled materials for big kids (it's open til 1 am). While Marlena and I enjoyed ourselves, I think the boys LOVED it. They were in heaven crawling around and exploring things. The museum had tunnels, slides, stairs, and structures all built out of other things, especially wire. It was CRAZY! It's really hard to describe what it was like. You just have to go there- Trust me.
(We were able to climb all over and through the wire/airplanes pictured)
(2-story slide)
(Darrin's shot inside the slide)
(the far spiral is a 10-story slide Noah and Darrin went down)(Darrin climbing up the spiral to the tunnels above)

That was the end of the first jam-packed fun-filled day in St. Louis. More to come later about the rest of our travels.

First things first

Whew. I'm back from road-tripping through Missouri and am exhausted. Before I recap the trip, though, I need to post my UFO finish. Missing a week of sewing time cut into my productivity a bit. I got the binding sewed down on my May wall-hanging while in the car on our trip. I worked on a few other things during the car ride, but no finishes.

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, vacation recap part one. We left about 8:30 Wednesday morning for Iowa City, where we met my mom and handed Ian over for the week. Darrin and I kept saying goodbye, but he was ready to go with Grandma and had to tell us to get out of there so he could go. I think Ian had the best nap he's ever had during the car ride- could be because of his sleeping buddy.

From Iowa City we headed to Hannibal. While there, we had dinner on the Mark Twain riverboat and toured his home. Sad thing was, most of us on the trip hadn't read many books of his (I've only read Huck). I was surprised at some of the titles he had written; I had heard of the books before, but didn't realize he was the author. In the Twain Museum, they had original Normal Rockwell paintings for the editions of Huck and Tom Sawyer he illustrated. They were very cool. We also stopped by a quilt shop. I didn't buy much, just backing fabric for my next quilt.