Thursday, August 15, 2019

Really Random Thursday, 8/15/19

Our niece, Christina, was here for a week, coming from Minneapolis. We had such a good time with her.

She arrived on Saturday, August 3. Aaron gets to spend very little time with any of his cousins, and he doesn't really have many--and they are all girls. So we had a family dinner at our house.
On Monday, Mark and Christina drove up to Yosemite.
They had lunch at the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel (thankfully, the park service and the concessionaire who was holding the naming rights hostage settled their differences and it is no longer the Majestic--not that anyone in California was willing to call it that...)

On Tuesday morning, we headed to the central coast. First we stopped for lunch at our favorite place, the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill.
Then we headed up for a tour of the Hearst Castle. Mark and I have been there many times. If you have been there, you know that there is about a 20-minute bus ride up to the castle. Along the way you learn about how William Randolph Hearst built the "castle" and where he procured all the priceless artifacts. It is often foggy down at the visitor's center but by the time you get to the castle you have broken through the fog and it is clear and sunny. 
This is one of the guest houses.
The famous outdoor pool.
The main "house." 
 Egyptian statuary.

Just a small corner of the "family room." Ha.
The dining room.
The indoor pool, with 24 carat gold.

The scope and absolute enormity of this place is mind boggling.

We stopped at a charming yarn shop in Cambria before heading over to Pismo Beach. While I love the neon yarn colors, I'm not sure what I would make with them.
The restaurant where we had dinner had the military phonetic alphabet on the wall, which I have always wanted to memorize.
The view from our rooms. Christina lives in the land of 10,000 lakes, but she doesn't get close to the ocean.
I finished my second rosette and photographed it in Pismo.
On Wednesday, we walked on the beach. It was a bit foggy, and this is the view of our hotel from the beach. Every single room has a stunning view.
I brought along a quilt to photograph underneath the pier.

We drove on the beach--not my favorite thing to do but it's an interesting experience.
Lots of people camp on the beach. No thanks--way too sandy.

You can also rent ATVs and drive around the dunes. Also, no thanks. It's way too dangerous.

There was such a beautiful sunset on Wednesday night.
On Thursday we headed into San Luis Obispo. We stopped at another charming yarn shop, and the tree outside was completely yarn bombed. It is considered a "giving tree," with pairs of socks and stocking hats attached. So if you are in need of one of those items, you are invited to just take it.
We had lunch by the creek that runs through San Luis Obispo.
And no trip to SLO would be complete without a stop at the infamous Bubblegum Alley. Gross...
On Friday, Mark took Christina on a tour of Fresno, including a stop at the neighborhood where most homeowners have a private plane in their garage/carport.
The week zipped by. I hope Christina comes to visit again sometime.

Meanwhile, everyone started school, even Christa. She is getting a master's degree in Ministry, Leadership and Culture, which will help her in the work she does with human trafficking.
Aaron had her fill out a questionnaire. I might have learned a few new things about our daughter-in-law.

And how did this happen??

Charlotte, 8th grade.
Levi, 6th grade.
Gabriel, 2nd grade.
Ella, kindergarten.
A reminder.
And a chuckle.

Until next week...

Friday, August 2, 2019

Grubers Retreat 2019

This year was the 10th year I have spent five days with dear friends at a quilting retreat in Minnesota. To say that these women have changed my life is an understatement.
L to R: Rene' @renecreates, Shelly @prairiemoonqults, Mary, @maryonlakepulaski, Doris @madebyabrunnette, Amanda Jean @crazymomquilts, me, Stephanie @stephiepeterson

When I think back to that first year and the trepidation I felt--so out of my comfort zone--to go to a quilting retreat with women I had only "met" via blogging and how I tried so many times to back out...but Mark would not allow that. After all, I had used up all our airmiles to buy my ticket, and besides, it was in his dearly beloved home state of Minnesota, so how bad could it be?? It turned out to be the best thing ever. Except that's not really true--it gets better and better every single year.

This year, Amanda Jean, along with her daughter Abby, picked me up from the airport. She had been talking about SR Harris for years. Let me tell you, it's a unique experience. Overwhelming actually.

What came as a complete surprise, and turned out to be a funny story, was that Brianne met us there. I have been wanting to meet Brianne for the longest time. Amanda Jean thought she had told me. Nope. Abby didn't know either. Later we found out that Amanda's son, Parker, as well as her husband, Kevin, also knew that Brianne was meeting us. It was the best surprise.
I did a little retail therapy. It's a unique place. Cutting fabric is on the honor system. You cut the fabric yourself and add a label that says how much you cut and the price per yard. Then at checkout, everything is half of the marked price. Very cool. But it also meant I rationalized getting more than I needed (need is always a relative term anyway) because, hey, half price.

Abby observing the whole process...
Then we went out for dinner, and Brianne gifted me with cookies--her cookies are amazing! And made me the cutest pincushion. Orange, of course. She knows...
I was fortunate to spend two nights at the Nyberg household this year, rather than the usual one night.

Abby generously lets me stay in her room each year, and she always makes some kind of welcome sign for me. 
Did I mention they have the cutest dogs?
And quilts. So.many.quilts.
I always get to have one of Amanda Jean's quilts on my bed at the retreat. Impossible to choose. So she chose for me. She started this quilt in a seminar with Tara Faughnan. I hope I can take one of her seminars one day. And I'd love to make a quilt like this.
After getting settled into the retreat center, I headed across the parking lot to Gruber's. It always takes me awhile to actually start making something. At the first cutting table was someone I thought looked very familiar--Christine. She used to make and sell the most exquisite jewelry on Instagram. I have quite a few bracelets as well as three necklaces. In fact, the only jewelry I brought along on the trip had been made by her. Two years ago we had tried to meet up in St. Paul, where she lived at the time, but it didn't work out.  And now she lives in Wisconsin. Yet I was sure that was her at the cutting table. I said tentatively, "Christine??" And yes, indeed it was her! We were able to chat for awhile. It was great to finally meet in person. She is no longer making jewelry, so the pieces made by her are even more precious.
This was the view from my sewing machine.
Rene' was working on this beautiful solids quilt for her son.

Mary worked on a Halloween quilt.
Doris finished this top.
Stephanie made this bag for Doris while we were there (one of many things she worked on). It is amazing.

Amanda Jean always gets a lot done too.

I wish I had taken pictures of what everyone worked on over our time there. Shelly was usually working on three things simultaneously. Not sure how she does that...

We always exchange "happies," a little gift for each other. This is what I came home with: an embroidered "happy stitching" (in orange), a coffee mug with a "create every day" sticker from Rene', a cool placemat (which matched my bedspread) from Amanda Jean, combination pincushion/iPhone stand and homemade caramels from Mary, a polka dot vintage apron from Shelly, the cutest pincushion on top of a spool wrapped with gorgeous ribbon from Doris, and the zipper pouch I made with fabric that Stephanie purchased in Finland.
Several of us made zipper pouches from that Finnish fabric and they turned out so cute.
As a final touch, Stephanie had had zipper pulls made to match the fabric.
We each got to choose a placemat made by Amanda Jean. I loved the one Rene' chose too. Hard decisions...
I ran out of time to sew anything, so Mark took care of me by making beautiful dichroic dishes.
I spent my time making blocks for my basket sampler.
And two more blocks for the summer sampler series.

Each block was rather time consuming so I was pleased with what I accomplished.

And of course, show and tell is always fun. I never have anything to share, because my suitcase is too full of fabric for projects I want to work on. 

Doris started this two years ago (I think). It was quilted by Shelly and is stunning.
Shelly also quilted this one for Mary. So beautiful.
Also made by Mary.
Made by Shelly. Wow--so many  little pieces.
Speaking of little pieces--this one by Amanda Jean.
On Friday night we always get a little dressed up and go out for dinner. Stephanie's friend, Grazina, and Brooke Sellman @sillymamaquilts usually join us and it's always a treat to visit with them as well.
Saturday, my cousin Cathy (as well as husband Terry) had lunch with me. Although they live about 40 minutes from us, they have an awesome log cabin in northern Minnesota where they spend about four months each year. 
During the course of the weekend we cover a variety of topics. We always wish there was a secretary to record some of the topics. This year, we got giant post-it notes and hung them around the room, and whenever someone had a good suggestion or a funny quote, we wrote it down. We didn't actually have this brainiac idea until Saturday; otherwise there would have been a lot more on each list. But we are prepared for next year.

Sunday before she left, Stephanie completed a last-minute project. So cute!

Gruber's is on this corner...
All too soon, the retreat was over and it was time to pack up.
Everyone left on Sunday, except for Rene' and me--we stayed an extra night, had dinner at Culver's and headed to the airport on Monday morning.
Travel was interesting this year. I flew Fresno-Seattle-Minneapolis. On my flight out of Seattle, we were a little delayed, as our pilot told us there were 17 (17!!!) planes ahead of us for takeoff.
For my return flight, I started getting notifications at about 8:30 in the morning that my 4:20 p.m. flight was delayed. I kept thinking how do they know eight hours ahead of time that it will be delayed??? More and more notifications. Longer and longer delays. Until finally my flight wouldn't arrive into Seattle until after my flight for Fresno had already taken off. That necessitated a night in Seattle. Apparently the flight originated in Albequerque. One of the pilots got sick, which required them to find another pilot. It took longer than they anticipated, which resulted in delay, delay, delay. Because it was their problem, not the weather, they covered the expense for my hotel lodging. In the meantime, I spent all day Monday in the Minneapolis airport. They have this cool area with lots of comfortable chairs, charging stations and even mattresses on the floor.
One of the airport stores--since Minneapolis was home to Prince.
Also home to Charles Schulz, so there are usually statues of Snoopy around the airport.
For years, every time Mark hears someone mention the child's game "Duck Duck Goose," he always says that the correct game title is "Duck Duck Grey Duck." Validation in the Minneapolis airport...
Meanwhile, back at home, Gramps got to spend an evening with Ella. They watched a movie and then went out for yogurt.

I think that about covers the retreat for 2019. I can hardly wait until next year.