Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Exploring New Dirt Roads

Its been rather quiet in my little corner of blogland. DH and I left the dirt road for a while...wanna guess where we've been or shall I just tell you?

                                   

Got stamps on our passports.
Visited a new country.
Flew over an ocean.
Crossed off the biggest thing on our bucket list.
Were completely unplugged for 18 days.
Slept in a tent.
Spent some time on a river.
Climbed over many a mountain.
Took 1000 pictures
Lost luggage.
Found adventure.
That's pretty vague, isn't it?

I'm still trying to process it all and I'm thinking its going to take me a while. I'm finding that I am not adjusting well to plugging back in. Haven't turned on the tv or spent any time on the computer with the exception of beginning this post. Haven't even had the desire to turn on my sewing machine. I kept a journal and wrote furiously in the tiny amount of time I had to write. I didn't want to forget a moment. We completely immersed ourselves into the sights and sounds and culture that surrounded us and we soaked in every ounce of every day along the way.

Any guesses? DH and I had saved up for years for this trip and 19 months ago we signed on the dotted line and took the plunge:


Yep. We just spent the last 2 1/2 weeks in Zimbabwe, Africa on safari and it was everything and more than we ever could have imagined.


We've talked about it for years and DH said if we ever had the opportunity to go, he wanted to experience wild Africa. No game ranch or high fence hunting. Not that we have anything against that, it just wasn't what we wanted so after years of research and reading and visiting with various people, we made a decision.


DH's brother has been to different parts of Africa numerous times and he, and his new wife of 3 months, joined us. I hope you'll indulge me as I attempt to put our adventure down into words. An African Safari from a woman's point of view. :) You can skip these posts if you wish, but I really want to include them here as my blog is a journal of our life and I do not want to leave this out. For people who never travel or take vacations, this was a really big deal. Passports were applied for. We didn't even have any luggage so we had to shop for everything and traveling with firearms requires lots of documentation. It took 5 airplanes, 40 hours, and 10,500 miles for us to reach our final destination. But our first night was spent in a lovely place, in Johannesburg, South Africa  called AfricaSky Guest House

                                                       

Welcome to Africa:

                                                        
We were very thankful for a place to rest our weary heads after 40 hours of travel


Apparently we are still early birds - even after flying for umpteen hours and we, and a lovely man named Gustoff, from Germany, were the first ones to arrive in the dining area. I'm telling you, you meet the most interesting people while traveling and he and DH just hit it off:


After breakfast, we were whisked back to the airport and headed for Harare, Zimbabwe where we somehow were separated from our luggage. After 3 hours of going through customs and getting visas stamped and standing in one line after another, the boys' guns and ammo and one bag were eventually located. Apparently, SSA (South African Airways) left some luggage behind in order to carry enough fuel. Yes, fuel trumps luggage - thankfully! We had arranged to charter into camp and our window of opportunity to make the trip was quickly closing so we made the decision to let the boys fly into camp and us girls would stay behind and wait for our luggage to catch up to us. We were deposited at Amanzi guest lodge


and the dear girl from the CMS office gathered us up and took us to a shopping district as my BIL's wife wanted to shop for some clothes and bathroom items:

                                       

I was in pretty good shape because DH (smart man) had suggested we carry all essentials in our carry on, but I did pick up a shirt to sleep in and  the next morning we were once again collected and went in search of our luggage. We met with officials who were very curt and barked orders at us as we moved through the process and I was very thankful we minded our p's and q's and did not commit any transgressions that required a visit to the pokey, because somehow, I think that might not have been a pleasant place to stay.
We commiserated with new friends from Michigan who were also luggage-less and as you can tell by the beverage bottles, it was a rather long wait:

                                  

Thankfully, all bags were eventually present and accounted for and arrangements were made for us charter into camp.


I was rather excited to charter out, albeit, a bit apprehensive as I'd never flown in a small plane, but I loved it.


After we dropped off Chris and Carol at their camp before flying on to ours


 I got to sit shotgun and visit with our pilot, Nick, via the headset as I drank in the view:


 We were soon reunited with our DH's where we teased them about running off with their guns and ammo and whiskey and leaving us girls behind.


And then we drove on to camp:


English and Shona are both official languages in Zimbabwe and Matombo translates to "Rock" which was an appropriate name since it can only be reached by climbing over incredibly rough, rocky roads to reach the top. Home sweet home for the next 11 days:


With a stunning view of the Zambezi River:


My BIL was hunting tuskless elephant, hippo, and croc and we were hunting Cape Buffalo and Plains Game  so we had separate professional hunters (PH) and hunted separately, but saw each other for a short time in the mornings and spent our evenings by the fire and around the supper table:


Mornings started at 5 or 5:30 with 2 members of the staff standing outside our tent saying, "Knock, knock. Good morning. How are you?" -insert- charming Zimbabwe accent. A quick cup of coffee or tea - a hot breakfast - loading the crew into the truck and we headed off in the dark.

Adventure lies ahead!

Friday, July 24, 2015

What I've Been Up To

1. 2 very long days, a week apart, on the road, looking for housing for college girl. After looking at 21 places, we finally found it.


 We were alternately dejected...prayerful...frustrated...hot...hopeful...irritated... patient...sweaty...tired....hungry...impatient...exhausted...and just plumb tuckered out.

2. Spending time behind my trusty mower trying to keep up.


3. Cooking for unexpected company as our neighbor delivered our winter supply of big bales and he and DH got caught in a torrential downpour (that blue sky didn't stay blue for long) so we wiled away the evening over chicken fajitas and good conversation as the storm raged.

                            

4. Branding some late calves and feeding a few extras. Made me grin when I started cracking eggs at 3:30 in the morning and the eggs smiled back:


5. Stitching a binding and looking forward to a finished quilt soon.


6. Trip 3 to move college girl into her humble abode.


Made me smile to see that these were the first things she unpacked and set out:


Alas, no kitties allowed so unpacking this made her sad:


So her beloved feline will take up residence with us. We already have another one of her kitties, but they are good cats. They spend 90% of their time outdoors and wander in from time to time for a bite to eat and some lap time.

7. Being thankful for another good rainstorm although it was accompanied by much lightening that struck a tree close to the house


as well as the transformer by the house, twice in two days, knocking out our power.

8. Eating lots of this in an attempt to keep cool. The temps have soared well past 100° this week.


9. Making Soft Scrub and using it on the stove and tub, Sparkly stoves and tubs make me happy.

                         

10. Finalizing plans for something that, for now, I have to keep under my hat :)



Friday, July 17, 2015

Hooked on Yarn

I have wanted to learn to knit for what seems like a coon's age. I see Judy over at Patchwork Times is always posting cute projects and Nancy over at  Wyoming Breezes has me yearning to knit socks. As does Carol over at The Polka Dot Chicken And then things like this pop up on Pinterest.

                           

and I am more determined than ever. I don't care if its 100° outside, I would wear hats like this every day!

And this scarf! How long do you reckon it'll take me to learn how to knit something like this?

                                                unnamed-1

Alas, I am a klutz...and a bit clumsy. I get mixed up with 2 needles although I did manage of make a scarf to wear with my denim coat. I'm not giving up though although now I need a yarn project for a time and I'm not sure knitting needles are allowed so I turned to crochet. My friend, M, who is a knitting fool, lives in Texas and when I moaned to her, she pointed me towards U-tube and lo and behold, I made something!


 Don't laugh at my wine glass mannequin. I didn't have any cute little babies handy for modeling so a wine glass is what you get. Its rather silly how happy I am about this little hat. I really want to make hats for babies in ICU and children battling cancer. I have a gift card from Hobby Lobby from Christmas and I think I'll start a yarn stash.

I was completely thrilled with my new little hobby so I jumped right in to another hat. A different pattern as the first pattern just called for crocheting a rectangle and stitching up the sides and gathering the top. This time I thought I would tackle crocheting on the round.


LOL. Something went terribly wrong. I got the round part right, but I was aiming for a hat. DH and DD are amused and to tell you the truth, so am I. I haven't a clue what I did, but it looks like a flower and I'm keeping it because some little girl may enjoy having a flower on her hat.

I know these are all the same colorway, but I'm just practicing before I go wild with the yarn and my third attempt was met with success:


I may have conquered my quilting UFO list, but I just may be on the way to creating a UFO list filled with yarn projects, but I am having fun!



Saturday, July 11, 2015

And Then There Was One...

 I made some progress on the Don't Fence Me In quilt this week. It's the last UFO and I have procrastinated on this one time and time again. I think this fabric has aged long enough:


If I recall correctly, I bought this to make valances for a front room in the house we lived in in Texas. Plan B. A quilt. I knew I wanted to make it bigger than the 42" width of fabric and that meant I'd need to piece the strips and match the horses. I thought about it long enough that I had convinced myself that it was going to be a big mess, but once I finally gave myself a good talking to, I just gave it a shot and it didn't turn out half bad. I can live with it. No horses tails are growing out of shoulders so it'll do.


Then I had to reconstruct a pieced strip I had made many moons ago.


I have no idea how I made it, but I still really liked it and I needed to make more. I didn't have a pattern and apparently those particular brain cells have ceased to exist so new brain cells were called into action. I had run out of the original fabric so new fabric was pulled and cut and pieced. I snuck (I was always taught that wasn't a word and 'sneaked' is the proper form, but that sounds awkward) in a few minutes here and there and after 10 days I finally had a quilt top.


Now I have a question. To border or not to border? I've still got plenty of the brown and blue and cream and black fabrics. Presently it measures 77" x 87". I don't need it for any particular spot, but I just couldn't decide whether it would look better with or without a border. Any thoughts?

I may actually get to cross this one off the UFO list one of these days if I can stay focused. I wouldn't bet on it either. :) I've got 7 quilts at the quilters and this makes 8 so there will be lots of binding going on around here at some point and another baby quilt is in the works. Pinks and Grays and my stash is VERY limited on both.

 We've had  3" of rain since Thursday night - most of it early this morning and that means it's too wet to get around much without tearing up the roads so we're not venturing far today. We've got friends coming out to watch UFC fights tonight and fajitas and queso are on the menu I'll be donning my apron before long, but until then, I'm going to settle on a design and see what I can dig up.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hourglass Blocks and a Good Read

I've had a few questions about the hourglass blocks I shared the other day so I figured I'd attempt to walk, those of you that are interested, through the steps I had taken to make them.

These blocks began with 2 Butterfly Garden Layer Cakes I had sitting in a bin and a need to stitch something simple. Something that didn't require thinking or figuring. Some people would say boring, but I just wanted some time with fabric under a needle while I listened to an audio book. This is what I was listening to:


Once Upon a Town

I highly recommend it. I love nonfiction and this story takes place in North Platte, Nebraska during WW II. DH grew up around the same area. This book made me sad because I wonder what has happened to our country. Could this still happen today? WOULD it?

OK, I'll get back to the subject at hand before I step up on my soapbox. :)

Choose 2 layer cake squares and stitch 1/4" all the way around. Doesn't get much simpler than that. Then take them to your cutting mat and slice them 4 times like this:


I'm fairly certain I saw a tutorial on this somewhere, but I can't put my finger on it at the moment. Stitch each one along the short side:


If you stitch along the bias side, you will end up with 1/2 square triangles. Press and you have a pile of these. I forgot to take pictures so I had to un-stitch this one to get one:                          



Pick out the 2 little stitches above your horizontal seam and spin your seams for a flat block:


 My ruler is not lined up in this photo but trim your block to 6"


Each set of 10" squares makes 4 hourglass blocks and before long, you have lots of pretty hourglass blocks.

                                                

I also made the little hourglass blocks in this quilt


with leftover jelly roll strips. I used a different method for these and it involves that handy dandy Easy Angle ruler. Just choose 2 strips and set right sides together. Then line up your ruler on the strips at the 2 1/2" mark and cut.

                        

Flip your ruler over, line up with the 2 1/2" mark again and cut:

          
 I love this thing. Bonnie Hunter is the queen of the Easy Angle ruler and she has a tutorial here for making 1/2 square triangles. Just one more step and you have the makings of an hourglass block - aka: 1/4 square triangles.

                                       

Press seams to the dark side:

                                        

When you stitch these two pieces together, they will nest nicely. Then take just a minute to pick out the 2 vertical stitches above the horizontal seam:

                                       
                               
When you press your finished block. you can spin your seams and a little cute 4-patch will appear

                                    

And once you trim:

                                   

you will be left with a pretty little hourglass block with good points and flat seams:

                                 

 A 2 1/2" strip yields cute little 3" blocks and there you have it. Its way past my bedtime so I hope this makes sense for those of you that inquired. I've got a baby quilt to plan in pinks and grays and I've still got a hankering for hourglass blocks so I may be stitching up more of these.

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