Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Year - My How Time Flies!

I can't believe an entire year has passed since I have found time to make a blog entry.  In all honesty it was a busy year and there are numerous things to share.  I think the longer you wait the more difficult it is to decide what to post and how much.

I have decided to start with the opportunity I had to fulfill a lifelong dream of riding in a hot air balloon in August.

I was driving to the gym one morning at the beginning of the Indianola Hot Air Balloon Classic here in Iowa.  This was the morning where they take off from a location and fly over the metro Des Moines area.  A balloon flew right over top of me at a low height and I snapped a shot and posted on my Facebook page that someday I hoped to get a ride in a balloon some day.  I should tell you that I do have a healthy fear of heights.

A couple days later my husband surprises me with having scheduled my flight in a Hot Air Balloon at the Indianola Balloon Classic.  I was supposed to take off early in the morning but as is usual in Iowa in August there were nasty thunderstorms in the area.  I was rescheduled for an evening flight a couple of days later (which just happened to be a couple days after the deadly balloon accident in another state).

I have to say I was both exhilarated and scared to death at the same time.  Luckily I met a kindred spirit - in other words someone else who was as exhilarated and scared as I was.  Both of my guy had followed me down in a separate vehicle (in the end this was good).

Due to winds we ended up driving South and East of the balloon field to take off.  Let me tell you it was a truly hot and humid day and no air conditioning in the van.  I think we sweated off 10 pounds by the time they got permission to use a farmer's field to take off.

It was the most amazing experience!  The flight up is such a gentle and quiet ride that you are thousands of feet in the air and you don't even realize it.  My fear of heights didn't even enter into the equation once you got started on the journey.  The views from up above were breathtaking.  I was so lucky to get a flight that when we got to the balloon field we were up so high and so much traffic below we went right on past the field and found another location to land.  Our 45 minute flight ended up being 1 1/2 hours long with a touchdown as the sun was setting in the West.

I was amazed at how quickly the balloons are inflated and gobsmacked at how fast they are deflated and packed up.

It was truly an amazing experience and I can't wait to take a flight again this summer.

I took my DSLR camera and got a ton of amazing photos.  I hope you enjoy the few I've chosen to post.

This is Gina (my kindred fear of height) waiting while the balloon is getting set out for inflation.  You can see my flat hair - super humid and hot.

This is my balloon being inflated.

It was super hot underneath the burners.

Cool to be in that  position to see straight up into the balloon.

This is the balloon field from our high vantage point.

Luckily I knew were my husband and son were sitting so I have a photo of them from above.

The balloons below were so colorful.

Passing over a pasture of horses after we passed the balloon field.

This inquisitive cows came over the hill to watch the packing up of the balloon.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Really - 2 months

When I was browsing blogs the other day and saw my blog title listed on the sidebar of one where it shows blogs you frequent and last posting - 2 MONTHS it said.  How can that be possible?  I just don't know where the time goes these days.  I can see drastic measures must be taken.  It is now time to schedule an appointment on my calendar for blogging just like my exercise.  If it is there, I will get it done.  

I decided to do some collage photos to show you a bit of what I have been doing over the past 2 months.  They are in no particular order as to when they occurred as I think that would require a little too much thinking on my part.

Speaking of photos - I upgraded my Mac to El Capitan and to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman "Big mistake - HUGE!".  My photos no longer just photo stream themselves between devices and I actually have to export from photo to my desktop to use them anywhere else now.  Major pain in the backside.

I finished stitching and making this design by Little House Needleworks into a project bag.  It was a delightful stitch and am so pleased with how it turned out.  It has inspired me to try something different on the next one using a different stitch on my machine.

Attended and photographed bridal shower for my soon to be niece's shower (marrying my nephew on June 25 just 2 days before my husband and I celebrate 35 years).  The lovely little girl is my great niece who will be a flower girl.  The picture of the three in the middle is Liz (L) Zoey(sprawled across the table) Ashley (R and my niece)

I've been doing some more playing with my DSLR camera I purchased last July.  I still can't get a decent night photo with it and am still disappointed in the zoom capability of it.  My Nikon point and shoot and had so much more zooming capability and night shooting was much better.  I would love to go out some night with someone who knows what they are doing with a camera and learn from them.

Working on Gathering Eggs by Mirabilia.  I am hoping this will be my 2nd piece to enter in the Iowa State Fair this year.  As I divided the pattern into 5 sections, well let's just say the photo on the right is about to finish the 2nd of 5.  SIGH!  Much stitching to do and very little time to accomplish.

My LNS got moved to their new location.  They are not set up yet for shopping but are ready to do framing so I dropped this Lizzie Kate off to be framed for the Fair.  I have a really different frame for this one of which I forgot to take a photo so am looking forward to end May to pick it up.  Even though they are not set up for shopping yet you can call ahead and tell them what you need and they will gather for you to come and pick up or have shipped.  

My friend, Launa, snagged this from her dad's house for me.  It is a DMC color chart with real threads.  Yep you heard me those are really threads.  It was a priceless gift to me.

We live next to a park with a lake and they are currently in the process of fixing the spillway and draining lake to dredge the silt from it over the summer.  It will be closed to boating, fishing and swimming until 2018 while they get this done and do restoration work.  Bill and I periodically take a walk over there to see what they have accomplished.

We went over to my brother and SIL's house to meet their new puppy.  Her name is Ruby and Evil Ruby depending on the time of day.   Luckily she was just Ruby when we visited.  However, when my cousin was my houseguest over the weekend for the bridal shower we went so she would meet Ruby and she got to meet Evil Ruby.  She is an adorable Alaskan Malamut.  

Bill and I went to the Science Center on one of our dates nights to see Star Wars in Imax.  Really enjoyed seeing the Foucault Pendulum Demonstrating the Earth's Rotation again.  It was always a big hit as a kid when taking a school field trip.  We also got to watch the process of changing the film from the previous movie showing to the Star Wars film.  Quite a process on a big machine.  Took the staff person 20 minutes to complete.  

The pic in the upper right is my friend, Launa and I on a shopping trip with her daughter and friend.  We totally embarrassed her daughter with this pic.

I've made a few purchases.  The strawberry huller was tossed in my shopping basket by my cousin while I was in MN over Valentine's weekend for some shopping.  It was the best purchase I made all weekend.  I bought a new bike to start riding on the trail in the park.  Can't wait for better weather to start cruising.  I bought a new pincushion (B's Caprice) and a cool scissor fob (Primitive Hare).  I just love my 15 oz mug from Heartstring Samplery.

While my cousin was here for the bridal shower we found a couple of hours for shopping.  We went to West End Salvage and enjoyed a few laughs.  I even found a sign for the Lippert Bldg.  It is my friends last name and even spelled correctly.  Alas I did not buy for her.  Price tag just a bit too high.

We also went down to Valley Junction and walked through some shops there.  I love the new shred that I bought.  It is a really cool accessory and I will put a photo of it one one of these days.  

I got this huge smile from my son when I surprised him on a Friday afternoon to pick him up so he would not have the long bus ride home.  Lord I love that smile!

Even though Spring has been working toward warmer and warmer days there is occasionally a very cool night.  This is what the water fountain looked like earlier this month after one of those cooler nights.  Yikes!

Yes, I still have managed to get to my favorite coffee shop for a delicious vanilla chai tea.  Nothing like a great cup a chai on a cool morning.

I continue to hit the gym for my morning workouts and enjoy them a great deal.  Date nights have been occurring on a regular basis and we've seen a great many movies.  A few have been disappointments but you can't like them all.

I've been reading every chance I get as well.  I'm currently rereading the Diana Gabaldon series.  It is amazing the things I don't remember from my first time reading the series.  I'm enjoying it all over again which is good as they books are about 800 pages long.  Also, reading The Bone Tree by Greg Iles.  Again another 800 page book.  I guess I like my books like my stitching projects - BIG!

Well, off to finish laundry and start getting ready for a new week.  See you soon!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Picture Catch Up


Today is Super Bowl Sunday and the guys in my house are Denver Broncos fans so they have someone to cheer for this year.  Be default that makes me a fan as well.

You can't watch the Super Bowl without wings so I made a batch for my guys earlier today.


Rather than have a gazillion pictures on this post I decided to make a few picture collages to catch up on what I've been doing since last post.  

The end of September we helped out a friend who was putting on a charity car show for a family who lost 3 of their boys in an auto accident.  I tell you those car show people are a generous bunch.

In October we attended the Bridges of Madison County Festival and Car Show.  There were 100's of cars showing that day.  It filled up the school yard on all sides of the school as well as on the street West of the school for several blocks.  It warmed up into a surprisingly warm day for October.  You will notice in one photo there are some unusual trophies.  They were made by an Iowa artist using old car parts, parts from car jacks, etc.  We were very surprised and honored to have won one of these trophies for our Camaro.  My son still has this one in his room as he loves it so much.  Someday maybe he will let us display it with the rest of the car trophies.

I took a couple of classes from Christian Photo here in town to learn more about my camera I purchased in July.  To that end I spent a good deal of time in October out taking photographs trying out all those settings I learned about.  I've learned it really does take a 100 photos to get just one that you feel is worthy of all the work.

I like what the Iowa State Fair says in their entry information page.  "Remember to focus on the ART of photography by creating photographs NOT snapshots.  It is much more difficult to elevate your photography from snapshot to art.  I am hoping to take another class offered by Christian Photo that shares how to take your photography up to that art level.  I missed the one for this quarter but am watching for it to be offered again.

Although I don't feel I am at the artist level with my photography yet I was still pretty pleased and proud to have three of my photographs appear on the local news during the weather segment.  I am going to pick out 5 photos to submit to the Iowa State Fair this year in hopes of getting one selected for display.  It would be amazing to also win a ribbon but that is unrealistic as so many professionals and amateurs alike enter from Iowa and other states as well.   Competition is fierce for the few coveted display spots. 

I have kept super busy over the Fall months.  I went to a couple of track meets with my friend, Launa to photograph her daughter who was running cross country.  One of my favorite photos is the group of girls before the track meet begins in their circle.  I again walked the Race for the Cure and this year I had company in the form of my niece.  It was also fun to run into my friends, Julie and Lacey there as well.  I attended an Iowa Wild hockey game with my husband and son, balked cookies, spent time hanging at the coffee shop (notice my friend, Launa sticking her tongue out at the camera).  I happened to have an eye appointment on Halloween and loved the skeleton in the waiting room.  It made me smile.  Over night the mushrooms sprung up in my neighbor's yard and I could not resist the photograph.

Thanksgiving rolled around very quickly this year and I hosted the family dinner.  There was a little snow that required a quick scoop of the driveway and then it was on to cooking the feast.  It was a delicious meal and enjoyed having the family together.  Bill bought a selfie stick before the holiday and Keith was into trying it out before everyone arrived.  He does a great job and takes some of our best family photos.  My great niece wanted a dishrag and got into wiping everything while here.  I offered a rag to everyone in attendance but had no additional takers.  My great nephew has such an expressive face and I love the look on his face here while he is watching his grandpa make the homemade whipped cream.

Christmas came upon me quickly as well.  I was busy buying and making gifts right up until the last minute.  I was so blessed this year that my friend, Launa brought her daughter, Maggie to help me decorate my tree.  Bill was so excited that he wouldn't have to help that he wrote in the frosted over front door to "come in".  I love this photo of Launa, Maggie and I where Bill captured the look on Maggie's face as one of the ornaments fell off the tree.  She was an absolute delight to have here and hope she will come back again.  

My older brother and I made our yearly trip to shop Christmas ornaments and had a great time.  You will see us taking a selfie with Santa Clause.  He was fake and for a mere $1,700 we could have brought him home.  I had some shopping trips with Bill and Keith and took a photo next to the lovely mall display.  I also snapped a couple shots of them licking the spoon/pan after making a batch of fudge.


Creatively I've been keeping very busy in the form of sewing.  I made a plethora of pillowcases each fabric chosen to exactly suit what the individual liked.  I love this photo of my great nephew who opened it and thought he would use it as his superhero cape.  I think I need to buy more of the fabric and make him an actual cape.  

I took my son, Keith with me to the quilt shop one day and everyone who knows Keith knows this was a mistake on my part.  He is famous for walking among the many bolts of fabric and choosing the ones he likes and letting me know just what he wants me to make.  This time is was Iowa Hawkeye fabric with many coordinating fabrics.  No it couldn't be something easy like a pillowcase.  Yep it had to be a blanket.  I cut my strips in a wider version of the jelly roll and did the jelly roll race.  I was amazed at how quickly the top was pieced together.  He loves it and is so expressive with his love of it that it is always worth the work.  

From there one thing led to another and I was asked to make a Mustang fabric quilt for the local Mustang club for one of the members having a baby.  Now normally a Camaro girl would just laugh and walk away but I happen to like the men and women in the Mustang club so I went on the search for Mustang fabric.  I think it turned out pretty good and I heard from one of the members that it was well received.  

Again one thing led to another and a friend had a top already pieced but was looking for someone to back and bind it into a quilt.  I love this family and just could not say no so I overworked my machine and put together another quilt.  

You see there is one stitching piece in the corner of the collage photo.  I'm still working on this Lizzie Kate piece and hope to pick it back up now that my sewing days are almost over for a bit.  Yes, I still have Camaro fabric to make into a quilt to keep in the Camaro for those cool evenings with the top down.  I also still need to finish my Christmas gift for my friend, Harriet.  Thankfully we are celebrating along with our birthdays in June/July.


I have tried an abundance of new recipes this winter and these are the only ones I managed a photo.  We really love the french toast casserole.  I have made it twice and am still tweaking the recipe.  I think I will have it right the next time I make it.  Of course, I loved roasted veggies and thought to add in brussels sprouts to the mix.  Believe it or not my hubby and son have actually ate some of the brussel sprouts which it think is a victory.  I have a deliciously flavorful and tender pork chop recipe that was given to me that is a keeper on our menu.  Still have a few more to try and am looking forward to that as well.


My family and I attended Camaro 5 Fest in Kentucky in early August and just before Christmas the book published came out.  My husband and I were so surprised to see 3 photos of car and family in the book.  It was such an unexpected honor for us.


I did get to spend a day antique shopping and lunch with my friend, Rene'.  She has recently retired and am looking forward to spending more time with her soon.  

I also got to go see the Wizard of Oz with my friend, Launa and her daughter, Maggie.  It was such a lovely evening out.  

On January 1 a few of us got together to finally watch The Wiz Live that I had recorded.  Now we have to do a viewing of Grease Live!

Bill picked the coldest day we've had this winter to want to make homemade ice cream.  It was an absolutely delicious summertime treat in the middle of winter.

Keith had his operating room dental work done that occurs once every couple of years.  Very thankful that everything went smoothly with this.

I will say we have had very little snow here this winter.  This picture of me operating the snowblower  is the only time I've had it out this year.  Mostly I just take the shovel and am done in less than 30 minutes.  Even once the broom was enough.  


This discussion is best left for another time.  My stitching goals flew out the window when my dad passed away last April.  I did surpass my goal of reading 50 books by 1 book this past year.  I set a new goal there for 55.  It might be a bit ambitious.

At this point in time my stitching goals consist of finishing Harriet's Christmas gift and completing two projects to enter in the Iowa State Fair.  I'm not even sure that is possible at this point.  I think I need to either figure out a way to take it to car shows with me this summer and cut back on the car shows I go to.


My beloved Aunt Marg unexpectedly passed away just before Thanksgiving.  Her love of life and family will be greatly missed.  I personally will miss her love, wise counsel, laughter and beautiful smile!


My family and I are driving to MN soon so I can spend a day shopping with my cousin, Michelle.  I'm looking forward to spending time with her and her family not to mention a trip to Stitchville, a quilt shop and whatever other shops the road leads us to.

We also have another trip planned for this Spring to CA to visit my husband's family.  I'm counting on a stop in at Quilter's Paradise along with the antique shops in Old Town Clovis.


I'm sure there are any number of things I wanted to share but have forgotten but if I think of anything worthy of sharing  I will do so later.  

Another goal - get back to blogging on a more consistent basis.


Sunday, September 20, 2015


I am not finding a lot of time to stitch with all the car shows.  I have started 2 pieces since the Fair and am at least making progress albeit slow.

This is At Our House by Lizzie Kate.  This has always been a favorite verse and can't wait to have it stitched and framed to hang in my house.  I'm stitching this on a piece of 45 count L.L. Vintage Light Exemplar.  I was using the called for colors right up until the white would not show up on the fabric.  I've substituted DMC 3685 which is a shade of red.

I have also restarted - yes I said restarted - Mirabilia's Gathering Eggs.  I was 1/3 of the way done stitching 2 over 2 on 28 count but didn't like the look of it.  I am now stitching it 1 over 2 on a piece of 40 count dirty linen using the called for threads.  I like it so much better.  Can't wait to find more time to work on it.

My friend, Harriet and I found time on Friday for one last visit before moving from their town home.  We had so much catching up to do that the time just flew by.  Looking forward to our next visit in her new home.


I was inspired yesterday to make something different for the picnic lunch I always pack to take along to car show.  The recipe was requested for this Orzo Salad so here you go.

Orzo Salad

I cut into large pieces the following veggies

Yellow squash

I then tossed them in olive oil with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  I placed on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roasted in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour.  Really depends on the size of your pieces how long you bake. Mine were about an inch.

I also baked for chicken thighs in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour.  I took all chicken off the bone and cut up.

I boiled 1/2 cup orzo in salted water until done and then drained off water.

In a large bowled I combined roasted veggies, chicken, orzo and feta cheese.  To this I added 1/3 cup Olive Garden Italian dressing.  I encourage you to use your favorite vinergarette dressing.

You can eat this either cold (which we did for our picnic) but feel it would be equally yummy as a hot dish.


Car Shows All Rolled Into One

There are still so many things and pics I want to share. It will do my best to control myself.

We've been attending a lot of car shows over the weekends and I have taken oodles of pictures.  It really has helped me to "get to know" my DSLR better and am consistently getting better photos.  My pictures of "things" are still better than my "people" photos but I have not given up hope yet.  To that end I have signed up to take a class in October to get to know my camera better.  Can't wait.

A new friend, Janice, asked me if I have always liked taking photos. I answered yes without giving it much thought. It was an honest answer as I've had a love of taking photos since I was very young.  Her question had me probing my memory and realized my mother started my love of photography.  When I was in elementary school, momredeemed her books of Regal stamps at the local HyVee in exchange for a Kodak camera.  This was my birthday gift that year.    What a lovely memory.

Favorites from car shows...