Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cotton Harvest

I went out of town on business yesterday.  I drove about 200 miles for a meeting.  Along the way, I noticed the cotton farmers beginning to harvest this year's cotton crop.  The farmers have placed huge semi-trailers in their fields to collect the harvested cotton and haul it to the mills or storage or wherever. (Hey - Maybe THAT's what I need for my fabric stash??!!)

It was interesting to drive along and see such industry.  I was glad for a couple of days of much cooler weather, so I can only imagine how these folks who work outside all day felt about it.  Anyway, I am thankful for the farmers who grow and harvest the cotton.  Otherwise, how would we get all these beautiful fabrics.

Before I left work yesterday, everyone was telling me the good places to stop along the route.  They clued me in to all the good stops for food and which exits to take.  I had another idea however.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I googled fabric shops in Montgomery Alabama, and I came up with one that looked interesting -Kudzu Blossom Quilts.  Funny name, huh?  (Does anybody like kudzu?  Does it bloom?)  But the ladies there were so nice, and it was such fun to look at all the pretty fabric, and peruse the book rack.  I spent about an hour roaming around in this cute little shop.

I was invited to dinner by my good friends the McCoys, and when I told Jenifer about my fabric store adventure, she told me about another shop in Columbus, not far from where my meeting was held.  Naturally, I just had to stop here before I left town.  Sew Much Fun!  Very cute.  Cute name too.  And sew much fun to peruse a different selection of beautiful fabrics that we don't have in our stores at home.

Since I had to drive back the way I had come, I stopped at Kudzu Blossom again on the way back.  This time, I paid particular attention to the quilts on the walls.  There were bunches.  Here were some of the ones I liked - a shame they were hidden way in the back of the store.  I saw the patterns for these on today.  I may have to make them.

I found something new that I thought was cool on the internet this week when I was looking for quilt stores in Montgomery - a fabric shop hop.  It is fun to go from store to store and see what all these different quilt shops have to sell.  Some of them have such cute ideas.  I was inspired.  Unfortunately, with 100 stores, you really can't visit them all.  And nothing really takes the place of that sensory thrill you get from being surrounded by all the beautiful fabric and being able to touch it.  Still the fabric shop hop is fun.  Here is the link:  Fabric Shop Hop Fun

So, thank you farmers, for your hard work.  And thank you designers and textile industry workers and other quilters for all you do to make it possible to put all these beautiful fabrics together in such an endless variety of ways.  I appreciate you.

And now to go use all those beautiful fabrics I brought home!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Fiddle-de-dee

Well, it only took 18 hours, but I made it home.  What a wonderful vacation.  Thank you Dear Sister and family for a wonderful time, and for the patience of Job with all our comings and goings and babies and trips to the airport and cooking  meals for a whole tribe....  Oh, the heavenly meals.  Dear Sister is a wonderful cook.  I felt positively pampered.  The stuffed chicken and the lasagne were awesome, and the salmon was to die for!

The trip home was not so much fun.  Dear Sister dropped Beautiful Daughter and I off at the airport at 7:30.  Once we got through security we had about an hour until Beautiful Daughter's flight boarded.  Luckily, our gates were right next to each other, so we could sit and chat.  Afrter that, there there were a couple of hours to wait in the airport for my flight.  Sea-Tac has always had great shopping and great food, so the wait wasn't too bad at all.

My flight was to leave at noon, but it went out full, and I wasn't on it.  Luckily, there was another flight at 1:15 or so, and there were seats, but unfortunately it didn't connect with a flight home.  Wonderful Husband drove to Gulfport to pick me up.  By the time we drove in the driveway, it was after midnight.  A very long day, but worth it for a wonderful vacation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today was Beautiful Daughter #2's birthday.  Since we're traveling on The Day, we celebrated a day early.  Thank you Dear Sister and Kind Brother-in-Law for the wonderful birthday dinner.  I had never been to Kirkland before (hard to believe, I know), and we had a lovely (if chilly) walk on the waterfront before dinner.  We jaywalked across the street to avoid the construction, only to find out later that there was, in fact, a walking path.  Dinner was at Hector's,. which had a delightful selection of Northwestern cuisine.  I had a Shrimp and Crab Louis - a meal they don't seem to have in the South.  Delicious!  I think Beautiful Daughter had salmon.  Always a good choice.  Back to the house for presents and then to packing (so sad!)  But we had such a lovely evening! 

Beautiful Daughter, enjoy your 21st year!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Doin' the Puyallup

Today's adventure was the quitessentially Northwestern - Western Washington State Fair, more familiarly known as the Puyallup Fair. Dear Sister and Dear Niece, Beautiful Daughter #2 and I headed off for The Fair first thing.  I hadn't been to The Fair since I was expecting Handsome Son, so you can imagine that it had changed a lot.  Admission was free if you brought canned goods for the food bank.  Dear Sister was really glad to get those out of her bag!

We perused the commercial exhibits.  No Ginsu knives this year.  Too bad.  For $5 (or have they gone up? - maybe even $10??) I would have bought one for Beautiful Daughter #2's kitchen.  They are so versatile.  When Wonderful Husband and I were first married, we would go to the fair just to listen to the Ginsu knife salesmen.  We bought too many knives, but it was always great fun to listen to their schtick.  Hey - maybe I'll see if I still have some of those!

Yours truly drooled over the new sewing machines Which embroidery machine would I want if I could have it???  Pfaff?  - I love mine.  Great for quilting.  (I wish I had learned to use the computer embroidery feature on mine, but it is on a 3-1/2" floppy and works on MS-DOS, if you can believe it.)   Bernina?  They seem pretty cool.  Brother?  I don't know.  Embroidery machines have come a long way since 1992.  Dear Sister has a Viking.  She really loves it.  Maybe I need one of those....  I would love to have a quilting machine, but where would I put it?  I guess I could put it in the living room instead of the couch.  Wonderful Husband wouldn't mind (LOL)

We wandered by the fruit and vegetable exhibits.  Each year, it seems, there is a competition for the best display, and the winner is chosen by the fairgoers.  They were all amazing, but this is the one that got my vote.

A must-do was the Scone booth.  The line was LONG and Beautiful Daughter and I took turns waiting in line.  Dear Sister thought I was nuts, and Beautiful Daughter was a champ, taking it on faith that her mother knew what she was doing - or at least that she was determined, and there wasn't much she could do about it.  I do admit that Dear Sister's scones are better (much better) but these are traditional fair food, and TRADITION MUST BE OBSERVED!.  I even bought some scone mix to bring home.

Beautiful daughter bought some fudge.  It was yummy, too.

We managed to find the youth crafts booth, which included FFA and 4-H, but we never did find the quilt show.  Some of the youth quilts were amazing.  I was really glad to see that young people are enjoying quilting, especially since both my girls seem to enjoy it now.  It's gratifying.  Maybe someday, they'll enter a quilt at the fair.


So what do you buy when you go on vacation?  We all know there are plenty of places that sell what we like to call "rubber tomahawks" - those useless things that you can't believe you bought and dragged all the way home.  Some people buy local wares, art or local crafts, that reflect the flavor and the ambiance of the place you visited.  Me?  I tend to buy fabric.  

Seattle has lots of good choices in the fabric genre that we don't have here in Florida.  Just a couple of blocks from Dear Sister's house is Pacific Fabrics, where Beautiful Daughter and I spent an hour or more perusing the awesome selection.  I could have spent a fortune, but I was actually a little bit proud that I walked out without a single purchase.  (So TOTALLY out of character!)  Beautiful Daughter #1 proved that she is her mother's daughter by purchasing several items here.  Chip off the old block, as they say.

My dear sister introduced Beautiful Daughter #1 and I to the Ben Franklin store in Redmond (once again, the photo is off Ben Franklin's Facebook page - when will I learn to think about the photos I need to take while I am actually THERE?). 
I remembered Ben Franklin as a "5-and-10 cent store".  Boy was I wrong!  We found the ribbon area first.  Such a great selection, and relatively inexpensive.  I found the ribbons to finish Ari's tiered skirt, while Beautiful Daughter was thinking hair bows for Abby.  Then, I found some great greeting cards with the cutest pictures of all the places we had been so far.  At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with them - and I thought they were a little expensive, but I had to have them.  For lack of a better plan, they became the birthday gift and birthday card for the two September birthday folks in the family, both of whom shared parts of this Seattle adventure with me.

Finally, we found the fabric section.  Heaven!  Yes, it is my weakness, but once again, I exercised more will-power than I thought possible, and walked out with just the ribbon and the greeting cards.  And then (after another great lunch at Ivar's - this time at one of their drive-in restaurants) I went home for a nap and dreamed about all the things I wished I had bought.  Thus, nothing would do that I had to go back at the next opportunity and (exercising great restraint even then) bought the things I couldn't live without.  It is so much fun to imagine what it will become.  Join me?

Tourists, Part II

A view of the Seattle skyline from the Bainbridge Island Ferry, "Tacoma"
So, Beautiful Daughter #1 and Abby went home this morning, and Beautiful Daughter #2 arrived yesterday.  So today was Tourist Day, Part 2.  We started out by visiting the fabric store Beautiful Daughter #1 and I visited on Tuesday.  I have been regretting not buying some of the beautiful things I saw there.  More later in another post, but it was a good thing it wasn't food, or I would have made a pig of myself.

Then we went into Seattle and had lunch (yes, again!) at Ivar's, this time at Acres of Clams.  Even though the day wasn't perfect, we sat outside on the terrace and watched the ferries and fed the gulls.  They sure know where to come for a free meal.  And boy are they greedy.  And noisy.  But, that is part of the ambiance, after all.

Why is it that all the gulls gather together on one buoy, while another buoy is totally shunned by their kind?  Some kind of gull radar?

Naturally, we took a ferry boat ride across the Sound.  I believe the Seattle skyline is beautiful from almost any vantage point, but it is best from the water, and the ferry is inexpensive entertainment.  It was chilly, but the feel of the wind in your hair is - while not conducive to having every hair in place - very refreshing.  One new aspect of ferry rides that was new to me is that all passengers must get off at the far end and re-board for "security reasons".  Hmmmm....  How our lives have changed since 9/11!

 Then we paid a visit to Pike Place Market.  The Market is much less crowded on weekdays.  (Imagine?!)  We succumbed to some farm fresh marionberry jam, and took pictures of the flowers and vegetables - a feat that was impossible in the crush of folks at the market on Saturday.  Look how beautiful!!

 While at the Market, Beautiful Daughter #2 and I wandered through some of our favorite haunts.  In Kitchen Basics, we met a couple who raved about the merits of Butter Keepers, and insisted that every family needed one.  Apparently, you put water in the bowl part and a stick of butter in the cup part.  The water keeps the butter from getting dry and crusty.  No one is sure if the device will stand up to Florida weather, but based on this enthusiastic recommendation, Ari and I each bought one.

Our final visit of the day (after a lengthy stop at the Verizon store to figure out why Beautiful Daughter #2's Blackberry wasn't working, and where the store manager was VERY helpful - although the stop itself wasn't exactly fun) was NORDSTROM.  For more than 40 years now, Nordstrom has been my very favorite store anywhere on the planet.  Their touted service isn't just an urban legend, it's a fact.  Time and time again, Nordstrom employees have demonstrated that their job is to help customers, and they do it so well!  I bought my first pair of grown-up high heels at Nordstrom when I was twelve, and the clerk treated me as courteously as he did any of his other customers - that means a lot to a 12 -year old.

Then, the day before my wedding, when my bridesmaid's dresses (purchased at another store), had not arrived, the buyer in the Bridal department sold me better dresses at the same price as the original ones - and did the alterations for free while my bridesmaids waited.  Who can ever forget such service???

Another time, Wonderful Husband bought a pair of trousers literally after the store closed (at 9:15 pm!), and someone did the alterations in the middle of the night, and had them delivered to our hotel before we left at 10:00 am to catch our flight home.

And this time, Ari had a pair of shoes that she received for her birthday that were the wrong size, Nordstrom  exchanged them because they carried the same shoe, even though they weren't purchased there.

I just can't say enough good things about Nordstrom.  Or Seattle, for that matter.  It was a great day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Yesterday, Beautiful Daughter #1, Dear Son-in-Law, Handsome Son, Abby and I headed into Seattle to do the typically tourist things that make Seattle such a fun place to visit.  We stopped first at Pike Place Market, where we (and thousands of other people) examined all the fruits, vegetables, flowers, and crafts, and watched the obligatory fish throwing. Those fellas sure have their act down pat.
Looking at all this beautiful fish sure makes me hungry!!

My big purchase of the day was a large, hardback copy of The Poky Little Puppy for Abby.  This was my childhood favorite, and my children's also.  I read it so much that I STILL have most of it memorized.  "Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide, world..."

Dear Son in Law and Beautiful Daughter #1 headed to the Space Needle for a sky-high view.  (And despite the fact that it was Bumbershoot Weekend, we found FREE parking only 2 blocks away.  Very cool!)  Handsome Son and I stayed at ground level and entertained Abby so her mommy and daddy could enjoy the view uninterrupted. 

We stopped for lunch at Ivar's Salmon House and watched all the activity on Lake Union.  Folks were fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and landing sea planes, among other things.  This is not my photo - it's off the Ivar's website - but I love it.  (Why is it I never think to take photos until it's too late?)  The food was yummy, but I was a little disappointed that the menu had changed.  Not too surprising, I suppose, since I don't think I have eaten there for at least 10 years.  Still excellent, though, and you can't beat the view.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day Trippin'

Our first day of vacation and the Taylor's had a great day planned for us.  A day trip out of Seattle that takes us through the Skagit Valley, across Whidby Island, and a ferry ride back to Everett.

We had a beautiful, crisp Seattle day for our trip.  We headed out in two cars up I-5 to the Skagit Valley and drove through what in the spring is Tulip Land - we're told that the valley was settled by the Dutch and that tulips of every color and variety grow here.  We stopped at a fun fruit stand, with wild blackberries growing in the parking lot and a variety of Northwestern fruits, berries, vegetables, fish (including the biggest king salmon filet any of us had ever seen!)

Then, we stopped in La Conner and strolled down the main street.  LaConner is right on the water (such big boats!), and the whole feel of the town is that of a fishing village from times gone by merged with an eclectic trendy town.  The crafts stores were amazing.

Abby, was sure glad to get out of the car seat!

We drove to Deception Pass, and although having grown up in the Northwest, I had never been there before.  How had I missed it?!  Sooooo beautiful!  We had a picnic at the beach and learned about the legend of the Indian princess who became a sea creature.  Lynda's picnic was wonderful.  Thursday night, Lynda baked cookies for our picnic dessert.  She called them "Disaster Cookies", but Handsome Son and I loved them.  For our Friday picnic, the cookies were soft and yummy, and reminded me of some cookies our mom used to make.  "Sister," I said, "These remind me of Rocks."  Handsome Son and Beautiful Daughter said, "Mom, that's not very nice."  But Dear Sister knew what I meant.  Here is the recipe for "Rocks".  Don't let the name fool you.  These cookies are soft and spicy, and Oh-So-Yummy.  Guess I should have baked them for my kids when they were small.


3/4 c shortening
1-1/2 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1 t soda
1 t  cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
2-1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 c milk
1 c softened raisins

Cream shortening and sugar.  Beat in eggs.  Add dry ingredients and milk.  Stir in raisins.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 350*.


Finally, to finish up our trip, we drove across Whidby Island, where we had planned to explore a fort built for a war between the U.S. and Canada that never happened.  Sadly, we missed our turn, and with an unhappy baby in the other car, we headed for the ferry, and back to the house.  This was Dear Son-In-Law's first ferry boat ride.  The ride was short, but the views were spectacular! 

Thank you, Taylors, for a lovely day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traveling with Grandma

I have to admit that it's been awhile since I traveled with a baby.  A really long while.  But today, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with Abby from Salt Lake City to Seattle.  It was - well - an adventure.

We intended to fly Triangle Airlines.  We really did.  Once upon a time, we referred to this airline as "God's airline" because their service was so stellar.  I remember once being late for a flight and having the gate agent drive me to my plane in a station wagon on the ramp.  No such service in Salt Lake today!

We arrived at the airport later than we planned, but surely with enough time to make the 11:30 flight.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking I could get my boarding pass from one of the ticketing kiosks.  While I was attempting to do that, the agents were going ga-ga over my beautiful granddaughter.  Sadly, the kiosk did not recognize me.  Not realizing the seriousness of this mistake, I spent a few more moments basking in the glow of grandbaby admiration.  The delay meant that I was within some mysterious 30-minute window which meant that the evil desk agent would not give me a boarding pass on the 11:30 flight (notwithstanding the fact that I had been at the kiosk in plenty of time or that it was their employees who delayed us and didn't mention anything about a 30-minute window).   Evil gate agent even went so far as to leave a comment in the computer that I was not to board the 11:30 flight under any circumstances and proceeded to call the gate WHILE I WAS STANDING THERE to tell them so.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Totally frustrated with the lack of service, not to mention basic civility from our friends at Triangle Airlines, Beautiful Daughter #1 had the idea to check into the noon flight on Southwest.  Not only were there seats available, but the Southwest gate agents and flight attendants bent over backwards to make sure I made the flight and was situated as comfortably as one can be in a middle seat with an infant.  Kudos to  Southwest!!!

Security is an unpleasant fact of flying at any time, but never more so than with an infant.  Baby's milk, medicine and other liquids have to be unpacked and put in the bin, as do Grandma's liquid items.  Then the computer comes out, the shoes and sweater come off, and the baby has to come out of the stroller.  Then, standing barefoot on the dirty floor, and holding baby in one arm, Grandma tries to fold the unfamiliar stroller to place it on the conveyor belt.  Not successful.  Finally, a TSA employee takes pity on me and figures out how to fold the stroller.  Then through the scanner we go.  Oops, Grandma left her phone in her pocket.  Into a bowl it goes, and back through the scanner a second time.  No beeps.  Now we do the whole operation in reverse.  Unfold the stroller and place baby back in.  Find the bins with our stuff.  Put on the shoes and sweater, trying not to think about what the feet might have walked on while the shoes were being scanned.  Try to repack the liquid items (why is it they never fit like they did before???).  Head for the elevator.  Up and out and down the concourse.  Halfway to the gate, Grandma realizes that the computer is still at security.  No wonder the bag was so much lighter.  Back to security, and now you KNOW you're going to miss the flight.  Thankfully, the computer is still in its bin at security right where I left it.  Race back up the elevator, down the concourse and to the gate.  Is there a rule that it must be the furthest gate possible?  Probably.

Play with baby on the flight and try to keep her from kicking the rude young man in the window seat and his rude mother on the aisle.  Try to keep baby happy.  Works pretty well until about an hour into the flight.  The plane finally touches down in Seattle and Abby falls asleep as we taxi to the gate.  Figures...

We pick up the car seat at baggage claim and have lunch at Ivar's.  Yum!!  Abby loves French Fries.  Uncle Sean arrives at 3:00 and Aunt Lynda is there to meet us.  We are home free now!  Vacationnnnnnnn!!

Aunt Lynda has all the appropriate baby items.  She has a pack and play with a changing table and a mobile, a booster seat/high chair for mealtime, and lots of toys.  Life is good, and Abby shows her appreciation with smiles and giggles.  Oh, she is a cutie.