Thursday, March 4, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 3/4/21

 I traveled far and wide this past week. All from the comfort of my office.

A few weeks ago, I discovered a wonderful site called This site offers real-time tours of places from around the world. The first tour I took, to kind of test it out, was a tour of the new Penn Station in NYC. It was a 45-minute walking tour from the old station to the new station, with lots of information along the way. The cool thing is that there is a chat box where you can ask questions and make comments, and the tour guide responds in real time. I only took this one picture but the whole tour was very interesting.

On Sunday, Gabe and I went to Edinburgh for the "Harry Potter--The Truth Behind the Myths and Legends" tour. Because the tours are in real time, we opted for the one that began at 7 a.m. Fresno time (4 a.m. was just too early for us, although that was an option--ha). Mark picked him up at 6:45 a.m., we got a good seat in my office, and then Mark went to buy us bagels for breakfast. 

J.K. Rowling wrote at least one of the books in Edinburgh, at a hotel charging 1000 pounds per night--and she was there for six months! The room where she wrote now goes for 2000 pounds per night--just in case you are a huge Harry Potter fan and this sounds like something to put on  your bucket list.

Along the way, we came upon a bagpiper. Several of the other people on the tour requested that the tour guide pause for a few minutes so we could listen to him play. One of the questions was whether our guide knew what tartan the bagpiper was wearing--he thought it was from the Stewart clan.

We saw the street that was the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

This brush shop is quite special.

Inspiration for Hogwarts.

And the cemetery where J.K. Rowling chose a few of the character names--Professor McGonagall and Tom Riddle.

It was a fun tour. The hardest part was that the tour guide had a strong Scottish accent--charming but hard to understand at times.

I highly recommend checking out this website and trying a tour. They are free to take but it is recommended--although not required--that you leave a tip for the guide. 

We hope to find a time for the "Harry Potter Film Locations in London's West End." Right now it's on the schedule for Friday morning at 9 a.m., which obviously doesn't work since Gabe is in school. But I'll keep checking. 

Saturday I took a zoom class by Krista @poppyprint:  Courthouse Colour Play. It's a class I have wanted to take for a long time, so I'm thankful that she offered it via zoom. It's always been a mystery how the blocks in this pattern go together. 

Improv is not my strong suit, that's for sure. But I enjoyed the class a lot and ended up making a pillow. I have not discounted making an entire quilt at some point. 

The pillow currently lives in my sewing room on my "friend chair," looking perfect with this mini made by Crazy Mom Quilts. Come for a visit. I'm sure ready for some company!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Quilts and Classics: Alice's Swedish Ex/1984 Jeep

 This is possibly the vehicle that brings out the most sentimental feelings for me. It belongs to Mark's brother, Pete, and memories of Pete and his Jeep go back many years. 

Aaron is probably 7 or 8 in this picture. Pete used to come down from Oregon and stay with us for weeks at a time. We were his base camp and he had many outdoor adventures in this Jeep.

When we planned our trip to Yellowstone three years ago, I was just in the beginning planning stages of this calendar. We were going to spend some time with Pete and Jane in Driggs, Idaho, near the Grand Tetons. I asked if he still had the Jeep. He said that he did, but it wasn't running...and also had a canoe stored on top of it. No problem--it would add interest.

I had the best time photographing Alice's Swedish Ex with this Jeep.

Pete didn't even mind helping with the staging.

One of my favorite pictures of the whole shoot.

Alice's Swedish Ex is the second version of a quilt designed in 2016. The original was done in solids and named My Swedish Ex, as most of the blocks are X's and I got my inspiration from a small piece of art that I saw at IKEA. Alice's Swedish Ex was the first version made in prints using a charming line by Rifle Paper Co. with prints of Alice in Wonderland. 

Alice's Swedish Ex has had a few other fun photoshoots. The next two were taken off the coast of Monterey. 

The next three were taken at Huntington Lake.

It's fun having a kayak named after me. :)

Pete's Jeep provided the perfect backdrop for this quilt and added even more special memories.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 2/25/21

While most of the rest of the country is under snow, spring is in the air here in the central valley. 
And we are also in a severe drought situation at this point.

It was so nice the other day, so Mark and the three older kids played a favorite game outdoors. I'd love to tell you the name, but it's a German word and I have no clue how to spell it, spulke (or something close to that I think). It involves one person holding a lid and throwing dice, and the others having a spool on a string. If the person with the lid throws a 5 or a 7, the other people have to pull their spool out before the lid slams down. If the person with the lid mistakenly slams the lid, he owes all the players a token. If any of the players mistakenly pull their spool out, they owe the person with the lid a token. It's loud and raucous. And loads of fun.  Side note: Mark and I were playing it in a hotel with friends years ago and security had to knock on our door and tell us to please STOP!

The kids have done a lot of rock painting during the pandemic. I showed a good friend some of their creations and she said they needed larger rocks! And then a few days later she brought me a bag of them. Don't you love friends who can fill a need you didn't even know you had? :)

I have always wanted to paint a rock that looks like a little travel trailer I think I will put it by the front door. Gabe's rock that looks like an egg cracking, with some eyes peering out, is so clever. Ella painted the watermelon with the extremely happy face. 

Now I need more paint pens and some more large rocks. 

This picture popped up in my Facebook "memories" on the 19th, two years since I completed radiation. It's weird how at the time you think it is a date that will live infamy, but yet if Facebook had not reminded me, the day would have come and gone without me even thinking about it.
We attended Charlotte's first high school academic awards ceremony via zoom the other evening. The nice thing--it took a fraction of time as the names just scrolled up on the screen, and when it was over we continued with our dinner. So very proud of her accomplishment, the first of many.
Both of these are true.

Especially when I see people refusing to wear a mask...

And that's it for another week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

WIP Wednesday: Broken Engagement

Most of the time spent in my sewing room recently has been working on my double wedding ring quilt, aka "Broken Engagement." 

I sewed and sewed arcs--a total of 72, each with eight pieces. My color palette is inspired by an old quilt top that I've cut apart, and then decided those pieces would go on the back as they were way too busy for the front. 

For no apparent reason that I can identify, this is my most favorite arc--the one my eye keeps going back to.
Placing the arcs in some kind of random order.
Cutting out and placing the corner pieces.
Semi-final layout, subject to changes as I go along.
I was hoping to really make a dent in my solids scrap bin. But I cut most of the quilt top from fat quarters, so I probably ended up putting more back into the scrap bin than I took out. Go figure...
Putting everything on the design wall was the fun part. Now the work begins--all that curved sewing...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 2/18/21

 Thursday at Wienskler Academy, West Campus, we celebrated an early Valentine's Day with our students. We rarely have dessert at lunchtime, but it was nice to have a special treat. I love donuts. If they weren't so bad for me, I would eat them every single day.

Pickles always makes us laugh.

Every Valentine's Day for at least the last five years, we have celebrated at Big Mama's. We bring our little jar candle and order burger and fries. We were able to sit outdoors, as outdoor dining is back on in California. At Big Mama's, that is the only option as there is no indoor dining. The burgers never disappoint.

Speaking of burgers...
And I mention the above cartoon because in 2017 Mark and I decided to do the thing. We were quite sure we knew what the outcome would be, as we both come from the same German background. In fact, we briefly considered only profiling one of us because we were so sure we would have nearly identical profiles.  And sure enough, Mark's profile showed him to be 84% Germans from  Russia. Mine, however, was a total surprise, enough so that I thought they must have made a mistake. My profile estimate was 61% Great Britain (what??), 19% eastern European, 12% Scandinavian and 7% western European. Over the years, I get periodic updates, and gradually my profile has shifted. 

Here is my latest profile. 

I have always adored all things British, so I was quite giddy with the original 61% British estimate. I'm assuming over the past few years they have been able to tweak their algorithms to more accurate estimates and I have finally arrived to where I thought I would be to start out...

*sigh* But I did enjoy briefly thinking I was British... So I'll just keep reading British literature and watching BritBox. :)

Isn't this funny? I bet he was a great and creative teacher.
My friend, Maggie, stopped by Sunday morning for some much-needed social-distanced girl time. On the way here, she passed this vehicle. Um, what???

Mark and I received our first Covid-19 vaccinations on Tuesday. After stalking all the websites I could think of (and I highly recommend registering for updates through, including the pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, we received a call from Fresno County to schedule our shots. I can't remark enough how organized the whole process was, from the initial check-in through scheduling our second appointment and checking out. We arrived at 12:10, 30 minutes (as requested) before our scheduled appointment. We walked back to our car at 12:55, which included the required 15-minute observation period and scheduling the second appointment. 

We feel we have made the first steps back to something that will resemble life before COVID. I know our new "normal" will not be like it was a year ago. But I'm looking forward to a little more freedom, a little more adventure, and hopefully a lot more real contact with friends and family. I can hardly wait. For the time being, wear a mask, social distance and stay safe.