Jun 28, 2012

Retreat Highlights

Seven stitchers from all over the U.S. decended upon Colorado Springs last week.  Unfortunately, the current fire raging in Waldo Canyon hampered some of our plans as it started early Saturday afternoon.

Highlights (some tongue-in-cheek, others not so):

  Frantically rushing back to airport security because my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket right before I went through security.  Luckily, someone turned it into the information desk.  Info clerk: "What's Mom & Dad's area code?" Me: (blank look) "Uhhh, 815" and then I start to describe the phone.  She held it up and I said, "That's it!  Thank you."  And off I ran to go back through security.

  Pulling my pants up in the airport restroom as I hear my name being announced over the speaker system, “Meari… Your flight has boarded. Please come to the boarding gate.”  I didn’t know the plane started boarding 20-30 minutes before hand.  It’s a good thing the restroom was just around the corner from the boarding area!

  Visiting a wolf sanctuary and as a group were able to get the wolves to howl back at us.  Very cool!

  Exposing Karin and Penny to my stellar driving skills by turning down a one-way street going the wrong way.  Instead of backing up, what did I do?  I continued to the end so I could turn around!  Hey, there was no traffic coming… that’s my defense.  Luckily, no one was traumatized by this event.

  Watching the retreat ladies diligently working on their ornaments for the class I taught.  Such concentration on their faces!  Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get to finish the ornaments.

  Having “tea” with the retreat ladies who all wore Victorian hats.  I was brave and tried the soup of the day… a cold cucumber zucchini soup.  Wasn’t quite what I expected!

  Finding out via the local news flash on the hotel lobby TV that fires were started in the canyon I had been near just two hours prior.  Not only that, my tour to Pikes Peak was canceled due to the fires.  Boo, it was the one thing I really looked forward to as far as site seeing went.

•  Winning the First Frogger prize because I was the first one to announce I needed to frog.

  Standing in line to board the plane to come home, I overheard the guy ahead of me tell his buddy:  “I don’t know what you’re going to do about a boarding pass when we get to the next stop, but they’ll figure it out.”  Whaat?  I didn’t have a boarding pass either!  When I printed them at the hotel, I thought one was a duplicate and threw it away, lol.  The nice lady at the KS City airport printed me a duplicate, so it was all good.

  Trying to set my Coke down on the plane tray only to spill it… onto half my tray –and– into the lid of my floss box.  Yes, I was stitching at the time.  No, it didn’t get onto the floss bobbins or my stitching.  The flight attendant went to get me some paper towels, but meanwhile the Coke had a mind of its own.  I could feel it dripping onto my sandal and foot!  Sticky feet… nice!

  Boarding the shuttle bus from the airport to my car only to find the bus is full.  To my surprise, a young man in his 20’s gave up his seat and insisted I take it while he stood during the bus ride.  Apparently, chivalry isn’t quite dead.

Want a more detailed look?  Read on. (We actually did stitch!)

Details, Schmeetails... Part One

I rolled into our Colorado Springs hotel parking lot early afternoon.  I met up with Vickie and Karin, both of whom helped haul my three heavy suitcases (two full of stash) up the stairs of our suite.

We had an awesome loft suite with a large bed upstairs and a sleeper sofa downstairs, two bathrooms, two TV's, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, mini fridge, and a nice long conference table.  Vickie has photos of our suite on her blog HERE.
I put together the retreat gift bags and door prizes while we waited for the others to arrive.  After a late dinner, we all met up at a combination stitching/quilting store, Ruth’s Stitchery.  It was a very nice store.  Had I not been so tired, I would've been more "into" shopping.

In the morning, several of us went to Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center near Divide, Colorado.  It was a very interesting and informative tour.  They are a non-profit organization that has given sanctuary to wolves, wolf dogs, foxes and coyotes from various "farms" that use animals for profit.

After the tour, the guide had the entire group howl in an effort to get the wolves to howl back.  It took a couple of tries, but we finally got them to howl.  It was soft at first and then got louder and louder.  It was pretty cool.  Owwwww.. Ooooooooo!

In the afternoon, we all met up for lunch and a tour a Miramont Castle

We had lunch in the "Tea Room".  The waitress was dressed in what I think was a victorian maid uniform.  A couple of the retreat ladies ordered the Lite Tea which included tea, finger sandwiches, and a dessert tray.  I ordered a BLT sandwich (very scrumptious!) and soup of the day which was cold cucumber zuchinni.  I'm game for trying almost anything... let's just say the soup wasn't what I expected, and I didn't finish it all.  The "fun" aspect of our tea luncheon was that they had a selection of hats we could wear.  Here's our group:

Photos of the castle tour can be seen HERE.

As part of the castle tour, there was a small Fireman's Museum.  A few of us decided to play "dress up".
Behind us was an antique fire wagon.  It was pretty neat!
Other Firefighter Museum photos can be seen HERE.

In the afternoon, several of us went exploring in Old Colorado City.  I stopped at a pet store and escaped without buying anything, but the store owner tried her darndest to sell me something... anything... stickers, magnets. LOL

After dinner at Texas Roadhouse (Yummo!), we headed back to the hotel to start the flat ornament/cording class I was scheduled to teach.  As I said before, I did get a kick out of watching the ladies diligently work on their ornaments.  We didn't have time to finish them, but I think the class went well.  Here's what mine looked like when I came home:

Do you see what's wrong with that picture??  Yes? No?  At the retreat, I inadvertently glued the ornament hanger on the wrong side of the ornament back!  So I had to very carefully slide a knife in between the two layers and get the cording out.  Then I had to make a new slit and shove the cording down in.  Do you know how hard that is?!?  Here's my finished ornament:

Stitched in Dec 2009 ~ Finished June 2012
Designer: Plum Pudding Needleart
Fabric: Silkweavers Wintergreen 32ct Opalescent Luguna
Fibers: DMC
Embellishments: handmade cording

Back to the retreat:  After the ornament class, we finally got around to doing the Free-For-All Stash Exchange.  Retreat attendees brought stash they no longer wanted, and then we could take home whatever we wanted.  This year there was so much that we each were given a pile to go through, and then passed it to the next person to go through until no one wanted anything else.  It was fun!!   Vickie took the leftovers home to be donated to a local charity.

To find out about the remainder of the retreat, read on!

Details... Schmeetails... Part Two

Some of the other ladies went to Cripple Creek to explore. My intention was to get reservations for the train ride to Pikes Peak, and the do some exploring of other areas on my own. As I mentioned earlier, I did get reservations on the last train at 5:20pm. Cool! On to site seeing...

First stop: Garden of the Gods. I drove to the central parking lot only to drive around and around and around it until another vehicle left so I could take its space. I found out later the lot was so full because a young couple decided to have their wedding there! As beautiful as the park was, it was sooo hot that I could only walk around to see a few of the rock formations.

I was surprised to learn that Garden of the Gods
was donated by the children of Charles Perkins to
fulfill his wish in keeping it forever free to the public.

There were quite a few rock climbers! Not I... nope.
More photos can be seen HERE.

Next stop: Seven Falls. I missed the turn off to go to Seven Falls and ended up driving over two miles up through South Cheyene Canyon. Think... narrow winding roads with blind curves and canyon walls as sky high. Talk about nerve racking! After finally finding a place to turn around, I was lucky enough to get an assigned parking space that was only 5 spaces from the falls.

Upon the advice of Vickie, I took the elevator up through the mountain to get to the first level look out. Both she and and I are afraid of heights. I can't believe she climbed the fire-escape looking stairs to the first level! I thought I'd be OK at the first level, but I got about 3 feet from the railing and started to have anxiety from the height. There was NO WAY I was climbing those stairs to the second level look out.
Top of the Seven Waterfalls

Bottom of the Seven Waterfalls

Since I was expecting to go to Pikes Peak shortly thereafter, I headed back to the hotel to hang out until that time. While Vicky, Mare and I were having lunch when the local news announced a fire had broken out in Waldo Canyon. People literally stopped in the lobby of the hotel to watch the news of the fire. Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak was evacuated and closed. I was so disappointed that I wasn't able to go to Pikes Peak.

The three of us went back to the suite and stitched while we waited for the others to get back. Yes, we finally stitched. I worked on Sampler aux Bouquets. Here's what it looks like now:
This is the project I was working on when I announced I had to frog. I had to rip out almost three rows that I had messed up. As such, the First Frogger prize came home with me.

Four of the other retreat goers were out in the area where the fire broke out. Sandy was able to get back to the hotel before the mad rush of traffic. Poor Vickie, Penny, and Karin got caught up in the re-routing of traffic and ended up getting back to the hotel two hours later.

After everyone was back at the hotel, we decided to order pizza and played with the stash donations from various designers. They were so generous! I was in charge of contacting designers this year and had to carry all that stuff on the plane with me. It's a good thing Southwest Airlines allows two free bags because I needed them.

Five forty-five A.M. comes pretty early when one goes to bed after 1am! I didn't plan on getting up that early, however a migraine that wrapped around the right side of my head decided it was time for me to wake up. I showered with a slight bit of light coming in from the outer room... I just couldn't turn on the light in the shower/toilet area. My head hurt too much. I took some meds and headed to the lobby for a bit to eat.. and didn't want to wake Karin or Vickie.

Finally, it was time for me to head back to the Denver airport so I headed to the car where I found ash from the fire on it. As I started out on the interstate, there were spots that had ash that looked like snow on the side of the road.

From Denver I flew into Kansas City, MO and then to Milwaukee, WI.  After another two hour drive, I pulled into my garage around 9:30pm.  I think Celeste was a bit miffed that I interrupted her sleep, lol.  I sure was tired come Monday morning when I had to be at work...  Zzzzzzz.

I had a great time at the retreat, and it was nice to meet up with old friends and meet new ones!

Jun 20, 2012

TUSAL 6/19/12

I'm a day late. I'm sure no one noticed.  If you did.... Shhh!  It's our secret, OK?  As you can see, froggy felt the need hop into the photo.  Sneaky little bugger!

This month's orts are the result of stitching on:
•  Fleurs et Papillons
•  Stockings Were Hung
•  Baby Afghan
•  Forgive Quickly
•  Sampler aux Bouquets
•  By The Bay Summer Mystery Sampler
Here's a compilation of the first six months.  It's pretty neat to see my jar fill up.

(Clickable for larger image)

The Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long (TUSAL) is sponsored by Daffycat.  For more information about the TUSAL, click on the badge on my sidebar.

Jun 18, 2012

Counting The Days

Some of my faithful concerned readers have asked about my shoulder and arm issues. For the most part, the pain in my upper arm is gone but I still have numbness in my thumb. I'm still going to the massage therapist once a week, and am extending the chiro visits out to two weeks (since they don't seem to be doing much).

I didn't do much stitching last week, but I did manage to get Part 2 done of Fleurs et Papillons.

I tried a little experiment with hand-dyeing fabric.  I bought some opalescent fabric for Winter White Santa and hand-dyed it a sky blue with a slight tint of navy blue and a bit of pink.

While I was at it, I also hand-dyed a piece of 22ct Hardanger.

I bet you were wondering what's up with the blog title?  I'm going to a retreat!  On Thursday, I'll be leaving for Colorado Springs.  I've helped with the planning this year, which has had me busy!  It's been two years since I've been on a retreat, so I am really looking foward to it.

Until next time,

Jun 11, 2012

Nuttin' But Stitchin'

Normally, I'm not one to stitch up projects and then stick them in a drawer.  I did have this one that I stitched in 2008.  I finished it into a dimensional flat ornament with handmade cording.

Sing Noel
Stitched: 12/14/08  Time: 3Hrs
Designer: Primrose Needleworks
Fabric: 18ct Seafoam Green Aida
Fibers: GAST, DMC Color Variations, The Dye Shop
Embellishments: Handmade cording w/DMC 321 & 815

I finished Part 2 of the Summer Mystery SAL designed by By The Bay Needleart.

I worked on Fleurs et Papillons.  I finished the top center floral arrangement and the second butterfly.  The top lace is almost finished.  I think I'm going to continue working on it again this week so I can finish Part 2.

Parsely over at Seasons of My Mind is hosting a Paws & Stripes giveaway. Go check out a cute Patriotic giveaway.

Teresa (At Willow Tree Pond) is also hosting a giveaway for reaching 300 followers. Click over to see what it's all about.

Until next time,

Jun 4, 2012

Marvelous Monday Update 6/4/12

As children, my siblings and I had an authentic Irish log cabin as our playhouse. My parents rented property from 1967-1979 upon which the log cabin sat. In 1979, my parents moved us to the home they currently live in and the log cabin was donated to a local historical museum.

Front View
Back when it was our playhouse, it didn't have glass windows or a very nice back door. We made do, though. We nailed plastic on over the windows (like we'd seen our Dad do on the house) to keep cold air out (Yes, we played in there even in winter) and nailed old curtains up to make it pretty inside. That was probably my idea, lol. My brothers built bunk beds out of scrap wood in the upper part that was accessed by a *very* steep staircase. Btw, it's not a good idea to try and coax the dog down them, lol. (Don't ask me, how I know) I tried to get a photo of the staircase through the window, but there was too much glare and the windows were too dirty. Believe it or not, my brother and I used to think it was fun jumping out of the upper window in front... Well, that was until his butt landed on the doorstep on the way down, lol. Oak is pretty hard on the bottom side!  I'm sure jumping out the window was my idea, too. I seemed to get into trouble for being "the leader" as my Dad always used to say.

East and Back View
To concur my playhouse story, there's even a blurb about it on the museum's website: "During the decade from 1840 to 1850 Irish immigrants moved into the area... This little cabin made of rough oak logs... The cabin is almost square. It is slightly more than 14 feet in each direction... Over the years it has served its owners in many capacities. Probably it was used as a summer kitchen or cookhouse, for storage and as a playhouse for children."

I scoured my parent's photographs and even found one that has part of the cabin in the background. I was such a little squirt then!

Me and Mom,
circa early-mid 1970's (1974?)

I had quite a few requests for the casserole recipe I made last week, so I posted it in the previous post.  To all who try it... enjoy.  With my changes, it really was yummo!

OK, maybe not a chicken dinner but I was a winner!  Not once, but THREE times!!

Last week must've been my lucky week.  First, I received an email from Chris over at Fugue.  She said I was the winner of her recent giveaway!

If you get a chance, take a click over to her blog.  Thank you for hosting such a cute giveaway, Chris!

The very same day, I received an email from Kim at Cupcake Cutie letting me know that I was one of three winners of a chart she designed called Babushka Sampler.  You can see a photo of it HERE.  Kim has a really cute blog and a really cute little boy.  Thank you, Kim!

The next day, I received an email from DMC notifying me that I was the winner of their Easter/Passover celebration giveaway!
(Clickable for Larger Image)

Around these parts, the members of Cheap Trick are considered "hometown boys" as all the band members graduated high school in Rockford, Illinois which isn't too far from where I live. For the BF's birthday, I bought concert tickets.

Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson

Robin Zander - Lead Singer

Rick Nielsen

Tom Petersson

I had never seen them in concert, so it was interesting.  I did recognize about four of their songs.  The BF said he recognized all of them except for one.  One thing is for sure, for 60-year old guys, they can still rock the stage.  When the concert let out, all I could hear was a bunch of static noise and voices of other concert-goers I could hear sounded like The Chipmunks!

The concert was the kick-off to the weekend's Airfest.  It was such a beautiful day... temps in the mid 80's, big billowy clouds in a bright blue sky, and light winds.  Perfect for an air show!

Other AirFest pics can be seen HERE.

I bet you thought I'd never get to this part, didn't you?!?  I have another finish!!!  I finished Sampler aux Bouquets I and started II.

I decided to join in the Summer Mystery Sampler SAL offered by Donna at By The Bay Needleart.  Each week during the month of June, she will release another part.  Part One was a quick stitch.

I even was able to work on Fleurs et Papillons.  Here's the bit of progress I made:

Until next time,