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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunny Quilting Days Ahead!

First, I keep forgetting to mention that my buddy Karrin nominated me for a You Make My Day award, which is really sweet. I know I have many readers from all over the world who don't leave comments ( and I wish you would at least say hi!), so this makes MY day, Karrin! In keeping with the "rules of the game", I am supposed to nominate 10 other blogs and let them know. This is so very difficult to do. I think, instead I will just refer you to my blogroll to the right, and especially point out Fragments from Floyd, Crazy Aunt Purl and a new one that I haven't added yet: sharonb's A Minute Ago (More on this in a later entry this week).

This blog entry is going to be like a steady stream of consciousness. A little of this, a little of that, and who knows what else?

We've been home almost a week now, and I think I am finally back into the "you're not on vacation anymore" mode. The first clue was the change in the weather - from 80 degrees to one degree catches your attention, for sure! I've gotten most of the un-Christmasing done, but now I have to wait on Hubby to re-arrange the shelving in the storage room before I can say it is completely done! I ran into Jo-Ann's last night to pick up some needles and I found some really good Christmas deals at 70% off so they came home with me and now they are in the pile to be put away too.

Yesterday was supposed to be a birthday stitch day with my Amazing Quilt Babes group, but the birthday girl ended up in the ER. So, instead we were all called at 7AM, and told to bring whatever we wanted to work on. I got three bindings put on: Cherry Limeade, Marston Baskets, and Bound to the Prairies. I also managed to get the inner border put on the black/bright houses and stars. This is Shirlee's completed flimsie - she's worked on it for at least a year, I think, and we all just love it!

I started in earnest back to the gym with my trainer. My goal to be healthier this year is to lose 20 lbs by May 1. What that actually translates to is 1400 calories a day, 12,000 steps a day, and one and a half hours of "activity". Since last Thursday, I've been right at or over target on the steps, and under target on the calories. Fridays will be weigh in days, and I am looking for at least a pound and a half each week. In addition to the gym, today I went to our local Jazzercise center and joined up - wore myself out with a class! I still have 6,000 steps to go, so it will be on the treadmill here at home.

I'm working on a couple of round robins (one for my Cambria retreat) and the on-line small Mae Britt style. I sure wish I could show you! I am truly enjoying the experience.

And last! I also signed up for a class. More on that and Sharonb's information in the next post!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winding down

And yes, ALL the 33 beaches are just like this one!

We're into the last few days of vacation here. Today (Saturday) and tomorrow will be the end of it and then we have to fly home all day Monday. It's been great, and as always as we fly over the island on our way north, I'll yearn for just one more day of sun and surf. But that's for the next time....sigh.

We've booked a wonderful place called Serenity for December of this year to come back. Usually we arrive either just after Christmas or around the New Year, but the prices have continued to climb higher and higher. Shoulder season, as they call it, will be just fine for two weeks, and then back in time to do Christmas and New Year's at home. This is what it looks like from the beach. The little red hut is a beach bar not yet opened for the day.

There's a little place on the beach where it turns abruptly and heads off on a 90 degree turn. Every year there is more added to the Flotsam stack. Each year I take a picture of it,and now it has become art. I especially like the "no visitor" "no open" sign that has been added this year.

You also never know what you are going to see on the island. We were coming back from grocery shopping yesterday and I had Hubby turn the car around so I could get this picture. Now, mind you, goats and chickens are the only animals you ever see here (with the exceptional of ONE old ox), so I have no idea what they were thinking when they did this to their car!

Enough sightseeing and now onto more books! Don't bother to read Stephen Fry's Fourth Order. It stinks - really bad! I haven't read this bad of a book since I don't know when! After that, I read another stinker - Blinding Light by Paul Thoroux. It was disappointing because he is such a great writer (Mosquito Coast) and the book started out delightfully funny. About 25% into it, I felt as if he got mixed up with what story he was telling and completely switched themes. I barely muddled through it and was happy to put it on the bookshelf to leave behind! Then I read Elizabeth Berg's sweet Never Change, a soft character romance, and then Swimming Naked by Stacy Sims. If you are looking for a bit of brain candy, go for Berg's book. If you want to wonder how in the world do children survive weird parents, read Sims. I didn't care for Swimming Naked but it passed another day on the beach with me. Last night I started an advance reading copy that my brother-in-law left behind: Midnight Rambler by James Swain. If you like Michael Connelly, you'll like this mystery. More character descriptions than murders, with the serial killer just out of reach and enough pizazz to keep you guessing about it. The main character is also like Harry Bosch, but just a bit earlier in his "retirement".

So, that takes me through all the hardbacks available. Hubby brought the new Follett book, World without End, and loved it! I am going to go home and re-read Pillars of the Earth before I start it though, so it will have to wait. I DO have a book on my Ipod that I downloaded just before leaving - Tandia by Bruce Courtenay (the sequel to the Power of One). I am not a big audio book listener so I've saved it for last. Today is a bit cloudy and looks like a rain day, so we are planning to stay at the villa and read some more. The pool is a nice little dip if I get too hot, and we will have BLTs for lunch. Dinner? Probably some fish! LOL!

This will be my last blog entry until after we get home. I hope you've enjoyed coming along with us, and I'll be back at the stewdio on Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More time spent in Anguilla

The vacation time apparently is working. I have no idea what day it is or what time of the day it is. Is the sun shining? Is it time to eat? Is it time to sleep? These are the only concerns I have on my mind. Ahhhhhhh, the sheer bliss of it all!

We've spent time walking on the beach/es, and eating lunch at a couple of our favorite places in the last few days. Wonderful dinners, too, and time spent together laughing.

I finished A Place Called Wiregrass (Morris), and Sea Glass (Shreve) since the last posting. Sea Glass sat forgotten on the back end of my bookshelf at home so I brought it as a long overdue pleasure read. Anita Shreve always seems to weave her stories slowly and nicely bringing it all to a crescendo near the end, then smoothing out your brow for the final paragraph or two. She did this here, too. Not necessarily a literary prize winner, but a nice story to read nevertheless. I' m going to start one of my brother-in-laws books today so I can save my other books for after he leaves. I usually don't read Stephen Frey (my hubby does), so let's hope the Fourth Order holds my attention like some of the other books I've read this past week.

As promised, here's a quilt story for you. For the last several years of coming to the island, we've sought out local art galleries and we always try to support them in some small way or another. Our "souvenirs" if you will, are paintings by local artists and handmade note cards, and Christmas ornaments. Imagine my surprise when we found this artist selling quilts for $350 and more on the island. They are all wall hanging size, and come with a description of materials used and where the pattern is found. Last year, a couple in a restaurant was bubbling over with a "find" of theirs, showing a ripply Ricky Tims convergence style quilt. This particular quilt is hanging in our bedroom with the full sun shining on it all day long. I would imagine it's longevity will be somewhat limited, eh?

Brother-in-law went shopping yesterday for T-shirts (what else do Americans take home?)and this was his find of the day. Too funny not to share with you! The yellow warning is a sticker added to the T-shirt...we are wondering if it is an intended joke or an actual warning! LOL!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What I did on my Winter Vacation

So, here we are on the deck of our little piece of paradise and it's almost been a week since we left home. Hard to believe that I haven't sewn a stitch, looked at a quilting magazine or planned another project! The weather here is always moderate - usually in the high 70's, low 80's and no humidity to speak of. When it rains, it usually rains only in passing, and it's quite refreshing.

The private villa where we are is not close enough to the beach for my liking, and the swimming pool is quite a bit smaller than I thought. BUT, I am not complaining - it's not 21 degrees like at home! We HAVE been to the beach everyday, but since I can't just get up and walk there, I must wait patiently while Hubby does his "thang". He's not the beach lover that I am. His brother his here for a few days, too, so that's yet another male that has to do his "thang" before we go. Driving is on the left side of the road, so I don't even bother getting an Anguillian driver's license. We usually aren't even to the beach until close to lunch - in the hottest part of the day - so I am adjusting my expectations as we go. This is a view of the side of the villa open to the ocean side of the island.

I've already read quite a few books in the short time - some I recommend, and others I don't. The one I WON'T recommend is The Emperor's Children (Messud). It was a true waste of time, and quite disappointing. I thoroughly enjoyed In the Heart of The Sea (Philbrick) about the true story of the whaling ship Essex that inspired the story of Moby Dick. I usually leave my books here, but I am thinking that my friend Nancy might enjoy this one, so I am taking it home and will send it to her later (yes, Nancy np!). My brother-in-law brought a few with him, so I thought I would read some of his before he left (and took them with him). I enjoyed A Nail Through the Heart (Hallinan), a nice mystery set in Thailand. Last night I finished A River Town (Keneally) about a good man who seems to always be on the wrong side in Australia at the turn of the century. The author also wrote Schindler's List so he does know how to turn a phrase! Today I am on to A Place Called Wiregrass (Morris) which is just a nice read with some laughs and some tears in it. As you can tell, I have a very eclectic reading list!

This is my brother-in-law, Brett and I enjoying Caribbean crayfish at Zarah's. Brett's first crayfish couldn't have been at a better place to eat than here!
This is one of the funniest things I've ever found on the island - and it's in a new "mall". You must remember that this a 16 mile long island, 3-4 miles wide. When we first starting coming here over 20 years ago, there was one stop light that didn't work - now there are 6 of them. There were less than 2000 residents - now there are over 8000. They are both Anguilla citizens and British citizens (if they want), and everything from food to clothes is shipped here from another place.

I'll have a quilting story for you next post. Here's where we'll be tomorrow around noontime - hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

January Aweigh!

I've been keeping pretty busy these last few days sewing up a storm. As a stretch for exercise, each time I get up, I take something down
from Christmas. So far I have all the snowmen put away from the hearth room, all the angels out of the living room, and all of the snow village packed yup and put away for next year. The Santas and poinsettias have been carried to the the top of the stairs, but the tree and the garland may have to wait.

I took on another barter...sewing together a king quilt top in exchange for machine quilting a king top of mine from this past fall. When I said yes, I don't think I realized how many half square triangles would be involved! At last count, there are 720 of them - and I couldn't just make a gagillion at a time, either. Since the shading varied from the top of the block to the bottom of the block, and keeping the central friendship star the same required a little thinking on my part. Hurt my brain, I gotta tell you! LOL!

Here's the friendship star on my design that just needs to be sewn together and I'll call it good. 81" x 90"

Speaking of barters, I am loving my last barter of socks for a sweatshirt jacket. Here they are in all their glory! Thank you Linda!

I've also been reading up a storm, too. A book that really made an impression on me (which was a surprise) was Rising Tide, The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed the World. It was extremely enlightening about everything from the Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River, politics in the Delta, the rise of Herbert Hoover and Huey Long, as well as the levy system for the river. I highly recommend it!

Another book that was great was March, by Geraldine Brooks, the 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner. It is written from the point of view of Mr. March, the father of the Little Women from Louisa May Alcott. The author modeled him after Bronson Alcott, Louisa's father - a fascinating man in his own right. It seemed as if I had just put down Little Women for a moment, and the next chapter was March. Mrs. March (Marmee) is also portrayed as a real person underneath all the humility and quiet goodness she shows in Alcott's story. It's a pleasant story, with some well written action stories based on diaries of the time during the Civil War. I can see why it won the prize.

Movies have been a big thing on our list, too, lately. We've had the grandchildren for a couple of days/nights, so we saw Water Horse today. A delightful movie that might have been a little bit over the top for the three year old, but he enjoyed it nevertheless. The kids also like Alvin and the Chipmunks, and so did Opa (Hubby) even though the ratings have been less than stellar. I didn't get to see that one, but wish I had. Hubby and I also saw Kite Runner (my choice) which was great, and No Country for Old Men which was also done very well. Both were unsettling, but followed the books fairly closely and filmed wonderfully.

This will be my last post from home until we return on the 22nd. I am still trying to figure out how to load pictures onto the PC from our digital. If I'm successful, I can share photos from our island trip as we go rather than waiting until we return. You can see where we are going (and have gone for the last 20+ years) here. This year we are renting a private villa with it's own pool, so I will probably feel less intimidated to swim each morning without people watching me.

Have a happy sewing time while I'm gone. Me? No sewing, no hand work. Just walks on the beach, reading and eating a lot of fresh fish! So, I'll leave with pictures from last year, just to whet your appetite while I'm gone:

This is the air view of the West End of Anguilla where we stay:

One of my favorite meals at Oliver's is crayfish (Caribbean lobster)

You can tell that the beaches are really crowded, right? We love it here!