Wednesday, April 16, 2014

...I Might Be A Redneck

For years Alaskans have waited for it to come...
The mega-store for hunters...
Cabela's had it's grand opening last weekend...
I was there.


One day, I'm at an exhibit in Paris of fine jewelry from Cartier.
The next day, my jaw is dropping down in awe as I look at all the displays on exhibit in Cabela's.


That's a real airplane in the store!

We picked up some ammo for me...as in gun ammunition. There's something I never really expected to say! I am enrolled in a women's gun course in August. I decided it was time for me to learn how to shoot all the guns we have in our house. They don't really work as effectively as a club. I've always had big dogs to protect me but now I don't and I am too far away from the police to rely on a 911 call if a bear decides to visit me in an up-close and personal way.

I also wanted to share my pretty birthday present from my mother-in-law...yep...I had one those pesky birthdays...while we were in Madrid and I was not feeling so great. It was a nice treat when I got to Alaska and had this little package waiting for me...a little travel purse for my jewelry.


It opens up to a very smart storage setup on the inside. I like the leather piece with punched holes for earring storage. Thank you Mimi!


I have been trying to at least spend an hour or two in my sewing studio at night, after all the chores are done. I finished up the beards on three santas I cross stitched over the last month of traveling.


I gathered all the cross stitched ornaments I finished in the past year that now need to be backed with wool felt. 


One of these years I will be able to spend Christmas in our home in Alaska and have a huge tree on which I will be able to hang all my ornaments. I counted in my Needlework Journal how many cross stitch projects I have completed...say in the last 15 years. Any guesses? 123! Mostly ornaments but also a few small pictures.

I am on the last sanding and coating of polyurethane on the two large shelving units. I have really been trying to get those pieces done so they can be installed for a "built-in" look. Then the interior of the house is mostly to that wonderful "decorating" stage.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Into the Raging Water Continued...

Several years ago I was TRICKED into participating on a 12-day rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  It was a private trip...no tour guides...no helper-bees to do the chores. It was exhausting. It was SCARY almost every minute of the day. There were three other families in our group. Each family had a raft...one of the rafts flipped on the trip. On another day...we got caught in a small canyon by a flash flood. More than once...it was LIFE-THREATENING SCARY!   I blogged about it and all my entries about the trip were titled, "Into the Raging Water."  On that trip, I said I was taking charge and planning the vacation I wanted. 

A trip to Bali.

I am another step closer. 

I have bought non-refundable airline tickets.

May 22nd I will begin my adventure.

While I am on my Bali trip I will remember this...


I am praying...
hoping we will all make it through the next set of rapids...Lava...the biggest ride of the trip. Don't let this deceptively calm entrance to the rapids fool you! I feel scarred all-over again just looking at this photo and remembering...

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Week Home

I've been creating...but not in the quilting world. I have two shelf units I am staining.




I also stained three large planters that will go outside on the front of my house. I still need to add slate tiles in the mesh area.


This is as close as I have gotten to quilting...opening the boxes of fabric I ordered while in Paris.


And a block from McKenna Ryan's, "Dog Park." I ordered it from Batiks Plus...one of my favorite internet quilt shops. The kit came in a nice box.


Batiks Plus always uses the exact fabrics the designer has specified and everything is meticulously labeled.


Then there are all those appointments I have to do...check ups with doctors and most importantly...getting my hair done. 

And the other time-consumer is cooking. I have made dinner for my sons at least half of the nights that I have been home. One of these days I am going to make it to my studio.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Unlike many parts of the lower 48, Alaska had one of it's mildest winters! There is very little snow on the ground for early April. This bodes well for my summer landscaping plans.

The view from my front porch.

And...the place I can't wait to spend time in...my studio! I had to get everything off the floor before I left for Paris...last winter the septic tank backed up and the point it came up at is the shower in the basement bathroom...the lowest part of the septic system...right off my studio. No water mishaps this winter. Extra happy dance! (There are always surprises to be discovered in a newly built or older home. A professional cleaning service took care of it and I couldn't tell except that my studio was completely dismantled in the cleaning process.)


My first stop on day one in Alaska was to see my doctor and get some antibiotics. They are working...I feel so much better. While I was waiting for my prescription to be filled, I jaunted over to the quilt shop where I originally bought the black dotted batik that I ran out of in Paris. No luck finding that fabric but oddly enough, the shop had the backup color I planned to use, a Hoffman 1895 batik, Black Light. All the fabric was on sale...25% off! I got it for $8 a yard.


I think it will work out just fine.

My travel plans for Bali are underway...I think it is really going to happen!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hanging Around London

All the sudden it was spring in London today. For three days I have been freezing but today I was sweating. (Maybe that was just hot flashes!) Bryan wanted to visit the Borough Market again...we went last year on our trip to London. 

PACKED WITH PEOPLE!!!


This market is right at the base of the south side of the London Bridge. We went to eat.

Last time this booth was too crowded for my patience but today I only waited about five minutes.  Steamed potatoes with melted cheese. There is a brick of cheese sitting under mini broilers. The top layer of melting cheese is scrapped off and placed on top of the potatoes. Fresh black pepper and pickles are added...I went without the pickles. 




Bryan took a little longer to get a bratwurst.


We shared the bratwurst and the potatoes...but the gluten-free red velvet cup cake was all for me.


The Borough Market has mostly food products...fresh produce, meats, fish and cheeses. Then there are all the prepared-food vendors. Very busy place...I did mention there were a lot of people there. 

We walked back across London Bridge. Far in the distance is the Tower of London is on the left side of the Thames in this photo. The water was very rough...it was windy. 


We ran into another market on our walk. Old Spitalfields Market. This was a large, covered open area surrounded by in-place eateries. 


Loved this display of a permanent shop on the outskirts of the market.


The interior with a temporary vendor section.


Most of the vendors had clothing....some of it very original. This booth had dresses made with men's ties. A lot of vendors would not allow photos.


It is Mother's Day in the UK tomorrow. So many pretty flowers.


We wandered through some more crowded streets on our way to the hotel. Too pretty to be inside anyway!


We ended our day with dinner at an Indian restaurant, Dishoom. We got a seat by the cooks.  The food was fabulous and it was great fun to watch the meals being made...very quickly. 


The hotel we stay at in London has fast, free internet so I took advantage and blogged before our busy morning tomorrow to ride the train back to Paris. You may not hear from me again until I make it back to Alaska...just a few more days!

The Tower of London

Finally...a day with a partner to sightsee! My husband can be so reluctant to do anything that is typical tourist fare...so I picked something I thought would interest him...a tour of the Tower of London. He started complaining right away but I told him the Tower of London is where Henry the VIII's wives were executed and traitors were tortured. That got him more in the spirit of being a tourist.

We started out by walking there from our hotel...and though it was before noon...my husband just had to stop at a British pub along the way. Pub hopping is a constant pursuit of my husband's whenever we are in London.

At least this pub was still serving breakfast and the folks already eating there had some tasty looking food so we ordered one traditional British breakfast to share with a side of scrambled eggs for me.


Two eggs, a large mushroom, 1/2 a tomato, two slices of ham, two sausages, baked beans and two slices of thick toast...and a Guinness for my husband. I got in the spirit too and had a Bloody Mary that desperately needed a shot of tabasco but none to be had in this pub.

Now fortified, we continued our walk through a very cosmopolitan skyscraper area to the Thames where we found the Tower of London in the distance.


We crossed a lovely little park with gorgeous flowers...I guess there is a little bit of Spring in London.


We entered from the back side of the Tower of London, overlooking a moat that is a lovely grassy area now. This would make an excellent doggie play area.



Our first sign of warfare weaponry...my husband started to perk up...a catapult. Let the Monty Python humor begin!


Right way we joined in on a free walking tour narrated by a Yoeman Warder. This tour was highly recommended in our Rick Steve's London book and as usual...that book gives great touring advice.


Our Yoeman, Clive, was very entertaining. Here we are in front of the "Traitors Gate," the water entrance to the tower. This is where Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth, entered the tower for their imprisonment.

We toured the Royal Armory. There were lots of weapons for my husband to enjoy.


Several full-sized wooden horses were on display to show all the armor on the horses too...I can't imagine how much weight these horses had to carry once they and their riders were all out-fitted.


We got to see the crown jewels...very impressive...neglected to get a photo of any of them...but just like you imagine they would be...lots of priceless gems.

The armory museum is housed in the White Tower which is where this castle began its construction under the direction of William the Conqueror in 1077.


You can walk through the entire building. The outer walls are 15 feet thick at the base and narrow up to 11 feet wide at the top of the walls. Of course outer buildings were added throughout the years. To the left is a small church where all the bones of the executed traitors were placed in unmarked graves under the floor of the church.


To the right...our Yoemen didn't talk about these buildings but there were barracks for the armies so one would have to guess some of these buildings were for that purpose...definitely newer construction.


The view from the outer walls...across the Thames River. This is Tower Bridge, build in 1894.


We made our way back to the hotel...with another pub stop along the way. Then a little rest before heading back out to see a show at the Prince of Wales Theater. We saw, "The Book of Mormon." It is a musical written by the creator/writers of South Park. I have sons who have watched that show for years...I've seen an episode or two. The play was hysterical and I felt a lot of guilt while watching it. Very thought-provoking entertainment. The two lead actors were American and were fabulous. I just can't tell you how shocked I was by all the wonderful singing and dancing...mixed with horrifying  vulgar language. My sons did warn me! Very South Park...who knew they could write a musical?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

English Please!

We are in jolly old England! We took the train from Paris...through the chunnel...to London's St. Pancras station. Upon disembarking there is a lovely statue that greets you as you leave the train platforms for the main station...not a great photo but hope you can see the statue of the couple...it's huge and the photo just doesn't give you an accurate perspective.


Bryan has a one day conference here so we are staying until Sunday. Today I was on my own and hit the National Gallery.


Lots of great European art to be seen here from the 1300s through the early 1900s. No photos allowed! Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Reubens, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh...just to name a few. I'm definitely getting my art fix this year.

Here's a view of Trafalgar Square looking out from the entrance of the National Gallery.


A sea of people! It's still feels too much like winter here. We were greeted with rain mixed with snow upon our arrival yesterday.

I'm still battling a sinus infection. Might require a doctor's visit at some point. I was so thrilled to be able to walk into a pharmacy today and get Sudafed. I did get some great cold medications from a Paris pharmacy but somehow in Madrid things went bad again! I'll be in the USA in a week. I am ready to get to my Alaska home but only after a few more days of fun in London.