Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oh - I have a blog?

This summer has flown by in a blur of travel and social activities and quilt shows. There has been some sewing, which has saved my mind. I've updated my quilting related travel to Ireland and Montana...I'll spare the details of my non-quilting related travel, except to say there is going to be another long drought of blog posts. On September 13th, I leave for 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. I'm really excited about the trip...I'll let you know if I do anything quilting related while there.

Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.


Yes, I went back to Montana and had an awesome trip! I loved the look from the bag checker in Atlanta..."Your job sending you there?" "Nope, going voluntarily." "Why????"

We had a really good group of women! There's always one person who tries to dominate the room, but not this time...Just a lot of really creative women who made me realize I really need to step up my game!

In keeping with no new UFO's, I finished piecing the Forever Yours Table Runner. I'm actually glad I worked on it before doing the Wedding Star...there are a lot of tricky places where things have to come together and a quarter inch seam allowance is crucial. In fact, I had to put my project in time out because the fabric wouldn't behave. After she had time to think about her behavior, she got right in line and behaved like a perfect lady.

This was funny - my sewing neighbor and I decided to take a walk on Tuesday. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, but we both felt like we wouldn't melt, so off we went. Of course it started to pour. We actually had to take shelter from the storm. 
Here are some of my favorite projects:
I wish you could see the colors of this quilt. It's the most beautiful Amazon Star I've ever seen. I told her she should kit it. It was cut out when she came, and she completed it before the week was over. Her friends call her "Judy Junior."
This pink and gray colorway doesn't appeal to me personally, but it is really innovative and pretty. It's the queen size version of the feathered star.

 Fourth of July pattern...another finished project!
And my new Quilting BFF Jennifer! Her Mariner's Compass is stunning!

Jennifer cracked me up the entire time. You know how people always say to "drive carefully" when you are going someplace? Jennifer would say, "Drive fast, take chances." Her rendition of "I like big butts and I cannot lie" is hilarious. As she says, you can insert any noun and it will work. As proven by Delta recently when they introduced a new plane and did "I like big planes and I cannot lie." But best of all was that Jennifer and I went to have Margaritas with Judy. Jennifer and I were talking one afternoon about going to get Margaritas and Judy said she knew the best place in the valley and would take us there. The three of us piled into Judy's truck and sat out in the sun and drank a pitcher of Margaritas at The Vista Linda.

I wasn't at all put off by the Confederate Flags on the advertisement for the Southern Catfish Buffett.

You really do see a different side of Judy when you're at the Retreat Center in Montana. One day she invited us to her lakeside home...this is the view from her backyard.

I don't want to brag or make anybody jealous, but...I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.

céad míle fáilte

...a hundred thousand welcomes! 

I so enjoyed the trip to the Quilt Festival in Ireland!!!  Yes, there were a few organizational frustrations (how do we get from the airport in Dublin on the west side of Ireland to the hotel in Galway on the east side, two and a half hours away? Oh, no one knows? Oh, it's $75?), but once those minor little details were resolved, it was a great trip.  The people were warm and friendly, the countryside is amazing, hotels we stayed in were great, food was good (as evidenced by the 5 pounds I gained...apparently eating fish and chips, eating Irish bread and butter, and drinking Jameson's whisky every night will cause weight gain. Go figure.)

The flight over wasn't too bad. Ireland is 5 hours ahead of EDT, and the flight is 7 hours, so we left NYC about 9PM and arrived in Ireland at 9 AM. The Dublin airport is very modern. Puts JFK to shame.

The tour was set up for us to do the quilt show for two days, then tour Ireland for the rest of the trip. We arrived on Wednesday, June 5th, a gorgeous, 70+ degree, sunshiny day. We took the aforementioned $75 bus from Dublin Airport and enjoyed the beautiful Irish scenery - a green patchwork lined with stone walls and dotted with sheep.  The land on the coast of Galway is really rocky, and as the rocks came up out of the ground, the farmers would stack them to mark off property lines.
Since our bus got us to Galway a little bit later than planned, we stopped and had a quick lunch (can you see the Burger King sign?),

and then went directly to the marble factory. From the marble factory, we went to the crystal factory. Guess what we were told? There is only one factory in Ireland where crystal is still made. Waterford Crystal (my favorite!) is made in Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany now.  We went to the Celtic Crystal Factory where we saw a demo and had an opportunity to buy beautiful crystal. This master craftsman is doing the equivalent of free motion quilting, carving the design into this bowl freehand. Kind of like free motion quilting without marking 
the quilt!

We had a delicious welcome dinner the first night. One of our servers made a drink and asked two of us to taste it. Shock and surprise, I volunteered to test the Irish Flag shooter. The colors of the flag are green, white and orange, and this wonderful drink is made with Crème de Menthe, Bailey's Irish Crème, and Grand Marnier. The trick is to pour it slowly over the back of a spoon so that the liquors don't blend.

On Thursday, I took my first tour of Ireland in the beautiful Connemara Region. We drove through mountains, past lakes and streams to arrive at the spectacular Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.  The castle was originally completed in 1871, by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife. Hard to take a bad picture of this picturesque location. The gardens were gorgeous.

The Quilt Festival itself was fun...they had maybe 150 quilts...different displays all over the campus of the University of Galway. Aren't these cutouts cute? They had them all over the campus by the exhibits:

This one outside the prison exhibit says, "Guilty of Hoarding Too Much Fabric!"

The prison exhibit was comprised of quilts made by prisoners in the Art and Craft class in Limerick Prison.
I'm pretty sure this is the same guy who announced the birth of Prince George:
There was an exhibit called "I Believe" at the Galway Cathedral. The quilts were hung on the walls on the side of the cathedral, representing all faiths and spiritual beliefs. We ended up at the exhibit just as a Mass was starting and decided to stay. Tracy and I said if you had told me a year ago that I would be attending a Mass in Ireland, I would have looked at you like you were crazy! I lit a candle for Libby Lehman and one for my Mom.
On Sunday our bus left Galway and drove to Killarney. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, which as you can see from this photo is spec-tac-u-lar.
Monday we went to the Dingle Peninsula, another beautiful area. Ryan's Daughter was filmed in this area. Fun Fact #1: On a clear day, you can see the Statue of Liberty from here.
OK, not really, but Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula is the most Western point of Europe.

Our bus driver was the charming Derrick.

He was funny, knowledgeable, and an excellent driver! He called us his "little flowers."  And he almost left me. The back story...Derrick was very prompt and would tell us to have our "bums warming the seats" of the bus at a certain time when we made a stop. In Dingle, we stopped at a shop which engraved your name in Gaelic on a piece of silver...earrings, bracelet, get the idea...tourist trinkets. We were supposed to have our bums warming the seats of the bus at 12:30, and I got stuck behind a woman who was having problems with her credit card. I noticed that I was the only one from my bus still in the shop, but they said, oh don't worry, they won't leave you. Riiiiiiight. Thanks to Tracy for making sure I wasn't hitchhiking from Dingle. So for our visit to Limerick, we were asked to write a limerick about our Irish experience, and here's mine:

While shopping may give you a tingle
And your purchases make the registers jingle.
Best be fast on your feet,
Bums warming your seat,
Or Derrick will leave you in Dingle.

On Tuesday we drove to the village of Blarney, where of course there is the famed Blarney Stone at the Blarney Castle. You have to queue up and climb a gazillion stairs to the tower, so I didn't do it, but walked around the beautiful grounds. We had lunch in an old horse feeding trough.  (The red thing in the back is the trough.)
Fun Fact # 2:  You know those rhododendrons that you carefully nurture, water faithfully, feed fertilizer for acid loving plants, make sure that they get the proper amount of sun, and they die anyway?  They grow wild in Ireland. They're like weeds there! They are invasive. The Irish hate them because they take over the landscape!!!  This one was easily 15 feet tall...probably more. Taken on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

More beautiful rhododendron on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there...70-80 every day! It rained the day we left! The people were positively giddy over the sun, and just like people every where, flocked to the beach when the weather was nice.

And my most favorite thing?  They drive on the left in Ireland, so when you cross the street, you have to look the other way. In downtown Galway, some of the streets were painted with this:

I would go back again, but the list of places to go and people to see is a long one. International Quilt Festival of Ireland, the vision of Jim West of Sew Many Places travel.

My dentist said I need a crown. I said, "I know, right?"