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Yep… It Was Epic

Last weekend, I attended a wonderful stitching get together and reconnected with old friends, met internet friends IRL, and made some wonderful new friends!

There was lots of laughing, hugs, nail polish discussion, yummy desserts (courtesy of  Hostess Susan), stitching,  and stash enhancement.

While there, I made some progress on my Lizzie Kate Living With Charm Band sampler… finished the words “Listen” and “Learn.”  I’m stitching this with DMC rather than the recommended thread and am really happy with it so far.  Plus, it was simple to stitch and allowed me a minimal amount of counting and concentration during Canadian glitterification (I’m still finding it  – most lately in the dryer filter) and other activities.

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The colors are actually a little brighter IRL.

I was so inspired by the beautiful Chatelaine WIPS at the GTG, that I may just pull out Alpine Seasons again.

Looking forward to next year!

Back from Vacation – San Francisco/Northern California

Last week I went to San Francisco and had a wonderful vacation! I’d never been there before and went with my latest beau. The primary reason for the trip was because he wanted to visit and spend some time with his life long best friend, who lives in Petaluma. I’ve never been there before and thought that a visit to a new city would be a great idea for a vacation.

Saturday

We slept in due to arriving very very early Saturday morning, then stepped out to walk down to the waterfront. On the way down, I got my first view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which now rivals my very favorite bridge of all time (St. John’s Bridge near Portland, OR).

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We spent most of the afternoon walking around along the waterfront and enjoying the blue skies and beautiful weather.

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We met Anton’s BFF Greg and his girlfriend Roberta for coffee, then headed back to our hotel and had dinner.

Sunday

We headed out to the city again early and visited the Cable Car Museum. Maybe I’m a geek, but thought this was fascinating. I didn’t actually realize that they are called Cable Cars because they grip on to cables that are running under the street…. seems obvious, I know… lol. Anyway, there are four cable lines that run around the city that are powered by four engines that drive giant pulleys and angled, directional shieves. The descriptions of how the cars brake, splicing of frayed cables, and how the cars make corners were all really well explained. Really very cool and highly recommended!

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We walked through China Town, then caught a bus to Coit Tower. We rode the evelvator to the top and saw great 360 views of the city and the bay. The windows had plexiglass over them, but there was enough room that people had slipped coins through the windows to sit on the ledge…

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Friends picked us up at Coit Tower and we went over the Golden Gate Bridge (love love love) and over to the Marin Headlands for a hike. It was another beautiful day and there were wonderful views of the city, the bridge, and the Pacific.

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Sunday night we drove to a new hotel in Petaluma and had a really nice dinner at Roberta’s house.

Monday

Monday was cold and rainy. Greg invited us to his place for breakfast and we hung out with him most of the day chatting. We went to a movie later, and walked around Petaluma during a late afternoon break from the rain. Petaluma has a really nice downtown and seems like a nice place to live. We headed back to the hotel, then met Greg later in the evening for dinner.

Tuesday

The wine country!!! Wow.. beautiful… and … tasty. Greg has worked at one of the wineries in the area so all of our wine tasting with him was complimentary. We visited the Valley of the Moon, Benziger, and Imagery Wineries. The service at Benziger was really great so I bought a bottle there. I also liked Imagery. They hold contests every year for the art that goes on the bottles. It was a nice place and they had original paintings of the label art hung all around which was fun to look at. I’d like to go back sometime when they are processing the wine, but maybe I’ll check that out at Michigan wineries in the fall. Here we are at Imagery… I feel (and look) quite done with wine tasting… lol…

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Wednesday

We got up and drove to the Avenue of the Giants a couple hours north of Petaluma. Seeing some redwoods was one of my primary objectives for the trip and it was incredible! I love trees. I tend to stitch patterns of that have trees in them too… I’ve noticed. Anyway, we went for a couple of short hikes when we arrived, saw some huge trees, then checked into our teeny tiny cute cabin (which I forgot to take a picture of!)

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Thursday

We did another hike along the Avenue of the Giants that lead to this nice little sandy beach along the Eel River. There were some deer tracks in the sand that lead from the trail to the water… The great thing about our visit to the Avenue was that it is so early in the season that we were mostly the only people on the hiking trails! The hikes really reminded me of a lot of the hikes I’ve done in Washington and Oregon.

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We headed back to Petaluma later in the afternoon and decided to drive down a portion of Route 1, which hugs the coast.

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Friday

We headed back to a hotel in San Francisco Friday morning and stopped at Muir Woods. John Muir was one of the primary advocates for national parks, forests, monuments, and conservation. He was featured in a recent documentary on PBS called The National Parks – America’s Best Idea. We did a three mile loop hike which was really nice.

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We also had plans on Friday night to take a tour of Alcatraz, but it was cold and kind of rainy, so we cancelled and hung out in the hotel. When we had to check out Saturday morning, we went to his friends house and hung around most of the afternoon until we had to leave for our flight home.

During the downtime, I managed to get in some stitching and finished up side one of Sweetheart Tree’s Stitcher’s Favorite Biscornu. I love the colors and the teeny tiny buttons on this…

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It was another great vacation to a beautiful place!

Las Vegas!

Ah… a nice 4 day weekend…  Las Vegas… where its WARM and there’s NO SNOW and I’m NOT AT WORK….. where I spend 50 hours a week…. with my most recent beau… bliss!

I had a wonderful vacation!  We spend a lot of time walking around, checking out the different hotel/casinos where we played a little black jack, rode rollercoasters, observed wild life, etc.  We did do some other stuff too.  One of the highlights for me was the bus tour we took to Hoover Dam.  Maybe its the engineer in me, but it was fascinating!

The turbines:

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Me with the dam in the background:

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The spillway at the base of the dam:

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The Dam!  So big I couldn’t even get it all in the picture:

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Beautiful Lake Mead and one of the dam intake towers:

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I didn’t really take a lot of pictures of the classic Las Vegas stuff, but I saw this stained glass in the Paris and just had to take a picture:

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Another highlight for me was all of the Chihuly artwork we saw.  Huge masses of glass flowers in the Bellagio lobby, a gallery outside the Aria Hotel, in a bar in the Bellagio.  All of it was beautiful!  I took a lot of pictures of his work, but I’m not sure if I can/should post pictures.  If you click the link above, you can go to his web page to see some of his beautiful blown glass sculptures.

We also went to see the Lion King (the third time for me), which was wonderful as always.  They had some references to Vegas worked into the show too, which was kind of neat!

I managed to get some stitching done on the flight home.  I worked mainly on the Sweetheart Tree Stitchers Favorite biscornu.  Although I’m loving Alhambra, and have made some progress since the last post, I think I’m going to keep working on this biscornu for a bit longer and will post a pic.

If you want to see the the finished Alhambra that has provided me with so much inspiration, check out Glenda’s Blog.  For those not familiar with this piece… that center section is 100% beads!  I’ve also been inspired by Glenda to learn Temari!

Rollercoasters! Cedar Point!

I took the day off yesterday and went to Cedar Point and had an awesome time.  Stayed at the resort to get an hour early entry pass, then once the park opened to the public, the lines stayed really short or were non-existent.  I waited 20 min at most for Millenium Force and maybe 30 minutes for Top Thrill Dragster.  The rest of the rides were pretty much walk up and ride.

All of this resulted in 17 rollercoaster rides for the day.  Click the links to get ride info or watch point of view videos:

I also rode Skyhawk – not really a rollercoaster but really fun!

What a great day at Cedar Point!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Anyone who knows me just a little bit knows that when I take a vacation, I always go to the mountains!  This summer’s vacation was to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We rented a cute little cabin in Estes Park, CO right on the edge of the park.  A very cozy place to retire to every night!  This post is very photo intensive, but only contains a small percentage of the pictures I took.  This place is so beautiful…

Saturday:

We arrived at the Denver Aiport around 9:30 am, rented our car and headed to Estes Park.  We went to the Boulder Farmers Market and got some yummy coffee and some of the most delicous, juicy peaches I’ve ever tasted.  IMO, peaches are one of the BEST things about summer!

While in Boulder, I just had to stop at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory.  I’m a long time fan of their herbal teas, with my favorite being Sleepytime, Peppermint, and Chamomile teas.  I would’ve loved to taken pictures of the tour, but photos were prohibited.  One thing that really struck me about this place was how delicious it smelled!  All of those yummy herbs.  I think the highlight of the tour for me was the “Mint Room.”  They have to keep the bulk bags of spearmint and peppermint in a separate room to keep them from infiltrating all of the other herbs!   The mintyness of this room was so strong that it made your eyes water….  The other favorite part was the free tea tasting and the gift shop!

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We found our rental, bought park passes and hiking books, then took a quick twilight drive.

Sunday:

We planned a hike to Emerald Lake, which is a path that passes Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. This was our first views of the park…. blown away by the beauty! Really…. I just love mountains! We were lucky as we managed to catch up with a guided hike with a park ranger which was actually really interesting and informative.  This hike was 3.8 miles.

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The wind at Emerald Lake was painfully cold, but the view was amazing!

Later in the afternoon, we took a drive on Old Fall River Road-

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Monday:

Monday’s hike was Mill’s Lake.  This was a 5 mile trail that passes through aspen trees, Alberta Falls, through a high canyon and finally solid rock that finally leads to the lake.  This trail was really rocky in places, making for tough footing and a lot of extra energy expended by stepping around and over all of the rocks… totally worth it though!

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Mills Lake

Tuesday:

We (I) needed a little bit of a break from hiking, so we chose this day to do some driving! Our primary destination was Winter Park Colorado, where we tried out their alpine slide (FUN!), rode the chairlift to the top and walked around a bit.

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There were tons of mountain bikers around…

We also drove by Breckenridge, turned around in Vail, then hit Georgetown where we had a yummy yummy dinner at the Euro Grill. Highly recommended, especially if you’re into Schnitzels.

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Wednesday:

The hike of the day was the Ute Trail. The trailhead is off Trail River Road:

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This hike was above the treeline and afforded some wonderful mountain views. We also saw lots of these little critters:

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Marmots

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Thursday:

We saw tons of Elk on this trip (along with marmots, mountain goats, rabbits, moose, mule deer and big horn sheep, lots of different birds and chipmunks and squirrels), but this is the best wildlife shot we got. Rich snapped this on the way to Thursday’s hike – The Crater.

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Now you would think that a one mile hike would be a breeze. We’ve had a chance to acclimate a teeny bit to the elevation… this single mile started at ~10,000 feet elevation had 1000 feet of elevation gain. We started walking through a forest and ended up beyond the treeline. Honestly… I had to stop and gasp for oxygen at least 9-10 times along this hike.

The effort was worth it, as we ended up at one of my favorite views! We were also rewarded by seeing the highly elusive big horn sheep.  I’d post the pic I took if you could see more than little white dots on a cliff…

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Later on in the day we did a less than a mile hike around Lily Lake:

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Friday:

Friday we hiked Beirstadt Lake Trail. We started at the top and after a couple hundred feet of elevation gain, the rest of the hike was all downhill.

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Saturday:

This was our last day and decided to drive to the top of Mount Evans. The road up to the top (~14,000 feet) was narrow, a little crumbly in places and generally scary. The views from the top were nice and we also saw the highest telescope in the world on top.

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The rest of the day involved driving back to Denver, stopping at places along the way and flying back to Midway.

A wonderful vacation! I can totally see myself going back here someday.

Celebration of Needlework 2009

Wow.. what a wonderful time I had at Celebration of Needlework!

Thursday morning, Susan and I flew from Chicago to Manchester, met up with Jenny at the airport, then the three of us headed to the hotel.

We dumped our things in our room, had some lunch, then hit the shopping mall.  I just looked and made note of things I liked then did a small amount of purchasing later on…

Jenny and I had a class with Teresa Layman called “Bumbling Bullions.”  Teresa is a wonderful and patient teacher and had samples of bullions that she had added to various pieces of clothing on display – beautiful!.  The majority of the class consisted of practicing bullions with different doodleclothes, needles, and fibers.  Teresa demonstrated the stitch and also helped troubleshoot less-than-perfect stitches and offered guidance and advice to each individual in the class.  I didn’t really get to work on the actual class project, which consisted of small floral and other motifs made with bullions and finished as buttons.  They look like quick stitches and I’m looking forward to working on them.

Jenny and I met up with Susan and her friend Fran for dinner away from the hotel, then Jenny and I attend the Make It Take It Round Robbin class.   (It turns out that Erin was there too, but we hadn’t met her yet!)  We met with six different designers and received cute little project kits and had some time to talk with the designers about the project (and various other subjects – LOL).  We had the pleasure of meeting with Susan Greening Davis, Cynthia ZittelCatherine Theron, Louise Henderson, Pam Reed, and Pam’s daughter (who’s name I don’t remember).

Friday was pretty much a free day.  We camped out at a table in the lobby and stitched most of the day and made a trip or two to the mall.  We had people come by who recognized us from blogs, etc and chatted.  Eventually, others from The Wagon started showing up and we all planned to go out for dinner.

After dinner, Jenny, Erin, Robbin and I all attended the two Round Robbin sessions and had a really good time!  We got kits from lots of different designers – all who spoke about the design or gave instructions on finishing!  Susan Greening Davis, Lauren Sauer, Eileen Bennet, Jackie du Plessis, Julie Norton, Barbara Jackson, Catherine Strickler, and Marsha Brown.  Saturday morning, we had breakfast, then Susan, Jenny, Erin and I attended our Intermediate Hardanger Techniques class by Julie Norton, where I learned to do the amazing Eidelweiss filling stitch.  It was a really great class!

We had lunch, met up with some other Wagon stitchers, did a litle show and tell, and shopped before Susan, Jenny, and I went back to the airport to head home.

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Standing:  Carol, Kate, Robbin, Me, and Erin  Sitting:  Jenny, Susan, and Erin

Overall, I had a wondeful mini-vacation!

Merry Christmas!

I’ve been laid off work this week due to slow business and took the opportunity to go to Oklahoma to visit my parents and my brother’s family.  I left on the 20th and got back Christmas Eve.  After a delayed flight back to O’Hare, DBF and his son picked me up and we went to his mother’s house in Hoffman Estates for their family festvities.  We had a nice time, but didn’t get back home until 3:00 this morning.  Of course, we all slept late, woke up late, exchanged gifts with DBF’s son, then took him to his mother’s house.

We went to breakfast/lunch, then went to see The Curious Case of Benjamon Button, which I really liked!  We didn’t open our gifts to each other until around 4:30 this afternoon.

While I was in Oklahoma, I only did a tiny bit of stitching, mainly because I wasn’t really into what I was working on, plus the lighting wasn’t the best.  I think I’m going to pull out my  Alpine Seasons and work on that a bit.  I’ve got more time off next week so should be able to get some good stitching in.

A while back,  I sent a note to my friend Susan’s mom, Shelagh, as she’d gotten sick.  When going through the mail this morning, I saw that I’d received a package from her.  She stitched a really pretty pincushion and sent a nice card.  I didn’t expect anything at all, so was really touched by what she wrote and her thoughtfulness:

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Since I’m always losing my needles in the couch (between cusions and in the arm, where I usually sick my needles, I’m sure this pincushion will help. 🙂

So, I’m off through Sunday, then have to work a couple of days next week.  I’m feeling spoiled by all this extra time off over the holidays…

I hope everyone had a peaceful holiday with friends and family.