Wednesday, July 31, 2013

{Dairy Free} Zuppa Toscana

A dairy intolerant woman went into a local restaurant for a meal and asked the waiter, “I can't eat anything with dairy in it. Can you tell me how this meal is prepared?”

“Oh yes,” said the waiter, smiling helpfully, “It’s cooked in a Wok!” –adaped from

Dairy has bothered me with varying degrees of severity/ annoyance for about as long as I remember. But over the last couple of years it has gotten worse. About seven months ago, I went dairy-free. I immediately felt better, but soon realized that I should probably be a whole-lot-of-other-things-free too. Giving up dairy was hard and I'm stubbornly avoiding trying to weed out any other intolerances, especially when the official test said I don't have Celiac Disease {gluten allergy}, which is pretty serious if left unaddressed. But that's an adventure for another day.

When giving up dairy, I looked for ways to find substitutes at first, but there are just some things that can't be recreated without dairy, so I only substitute when it doesn't alter the food too much. Mostly, I look for recipes that don't have dairy in them in the first place so they don't feel incomplete without it. It's always fun, though, to find a good dairy-free recreation of a dish that usually has dairy in it. Today, I want to share a really yummy dairy-free {and gluten-free if you use the right mayonnaise and sausage} Zuppa Toscana.

Zuppa Toscana
1 lb. mildly spicy sausage
½ cup finely diced onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1½ tablespoons finely diced fresh parsley or 1½ teaspoons dried parsley
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2½ lbs. red potatoes, diced
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 cups rice milk

• In a large saucepan, brown sausage; drain off excess grease. Add onions to sausage and cook until onions turn clear. Stir in chives, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add potatoes. Whisk together mayonnaise and about ¾ cup rice milk. Add remaining rice milk to ingredients in the pan and then stir in mayonnaise and milk mixture.
• Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer together until potatoes are tender.

Serves 5-6

• I used sausage labeled as "mild spice," and with the red pepper flakes it wasn't too spicy. I like things mild so you can increase the spiciness of the dish by getting a medium or hot sausage.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Pretty Modern Fabrics. And Too Many Projects. I Need A Sewcation.

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. –Charles C. Finn

While I was busy visiting Yellowstone and other outdoorsy places last week, a cute little package arrived on my doorstep and was promptly whisked away by the mail collectors. My first priority when I got home was to get said package. Seriously. We'd been home for less than an hour when I was calling my neighbors to find out when I could come and collect it.

Courtesy of Pat Bravo, a half-yard bundle of Carnaby Street in the Cool Peace colorway was waiting for me when I got home. It's even more groovy in person.

I immediately knew what I wanted to do with these fabrics. Jess at The Elven Garden showed her Retro Flowers Quilt during the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival and I loved it. I knew these fabrics would be perfect in that quilt. So I tracked down the pattern. Then I rummaged through my stash and found that several of the Pure Elements Solids I'd got when I ordered Pat's Indie fabric line work with Carnaby Street too! {Well, I'm not sold on the dark purple [Cabernet], so we'll see on that one.} I also threw in the Squared Elements in Watermelon that I recently ordered and thought that worked pretty well too.

Now I need a sewcation so I can work on any or all of the sixty-eleven projects I have going on.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Addicted to Color. And Fabric. A Foray Into Modern Quilting.

Everyone wants happiness;
Nobody wants pain.
But you can't have a rainbow
Without a little rain.

I ♥ rainbows. They are just so happy. And I love every color of the rainbow. There's not a single color I don't like, not even puce, although I think it is very unfortunately named.

I've always loved all things rainbow. I kind of held back, though, on making a rainbow quilt because I thought it might seem childish. But it seems like ROY G BIV {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet; I suppose the acronym makes it sound more grown-up} quilts are kind of the thing these days. I have two different quilts in progress that are going to be rainbow-y {I'm going with "rainbow," rather than the acronym because I'm not a grown-up yet} and I'm dreaming up another one in my head.

I seems that modern fabrics are kind of the thing these days as well. I'm a little behind the times, but I thought I'd venture out into some new territory. Just look at these lovelies.

Living Lattice in Red
Chevron Small in Tone on Tone Red
Maze in Orange
Tile in Persimmon
Metro Living Circles in Marigold
Leaf in Sun
Tarika in Moss
Reunion Daisy's Dates in Key Lime
Metro Living Circles in Chartreuse
Pearl Bracelet in Basil
Geometric Frames in Aquatic Blue
Mod Boxes in Blue
Just Color in Chambray
Citadel in Indigo
Metro Living Circles in Navy
Tiny Diamonds in Navy
Just Color in Grape
Geometric Ogee in Eggplant
Pearl Bracelet in Frosting
Geometric Eyelet in Honesysuckle Pink
Squared Elements in Watermelon

These fabrics are partly for the quilt idea I have in my head {which I may or may not get to sometime this decade; I have no less than 14 quilts in various states of finished-ness, or rather unfinished-ness} but they are mostly just to have in my stash. Stash buying isn't something I usually do. I try to buy with a project in mind {which is probably why I have 14 PhD quilts}. But you see, despite my better judgement, I keep going to visit Amy Smart over at Diary of a Quilter. And after I do that, I have to spend money {see also, Indie and Sparkle All the Way Christmas Quilt}. She introduced me to Pink Castle Fabrics and their Stash Stack Club, which I promptly joined. It seemed like a good idea. I also ordered 13 of the 21 prints shown above {the other 8 came from my favorite LQS, but I found links for you on-line. You're welcome}. That also seemed like a good idea. Their prices are kind of awesome.

What, exactly is the Stash Stack Club {and no, I'm not getting compensation of any kind to tell you, but if the folks at Pink Castle want to send me the July Stash Stack Fat Quarter Bundle, because I missed it, I wouldn't say no}? Brenda at Pink Castle has teamed up with Jeni at In Color Order and each month, they put together 12 modern fabrics from a single color family that are either tone on tone or that color plus white. Then they put them in a package and ship them off to you so you can admire them and pet them and put them in your stash. Read more by clicking the button below.

Pink Castle Fabrics

While I'm waiting for my first Stash Stack to arrive, I've been thinking a lot about color. Jeni has put together a really great series on choosing, folding and storing fabric, fabric types, color basics, color schemes and color combinations. I especially love her posts on color. I mean, I learned about the color wheel, primary, secondary and tertiary colors and complementary colors when I took art class in Jr. High. But Jeni takes it to a whole new level. Check it out.

I also went through my stash and pulled out all the modern{ish} fabrics I had that fall into the "stash builder" category. Not too shabby, eh? I think I'm on the way to a modern stash.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Sermons: These Things I Know

We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings. –Boyd K. Packer, These Things I Know, April 2013

Twice a year, in April and October, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints holds a General Conference. Leaders of the Church speak on many topics over two days, and their messages are broadcast during those days and also made available on-line and in print. Today, I want to share one of the talks from last April that has really stuck with me.

One of the biggest challenges in my life has been to find myself the sole provider of spiritual education and care in our home. It is an immense responsibility and I often wonder if I'm even making a difference. In April, Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke about families. He related a story about finding a snake in his yard that attacked a nest of birds. He compared this to family life. He encouraged us to fortify our homes against the influences of evil. And then he made a statement that has stuck with me.

Faith grows little by little as principles and truths are put into practice. I have been pondering this statement and have found comfort in knowing that there is power in prayer. It still isn't easy. I'm not sure if I'll ever feel confident in filling this responsibility. But I will keep trying.

Elder Packer's talk lasts just a little more than 14 minutes. I've included the video here, or you can read it in full here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Travelogue: Day 5, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Nature is the art of God. –Dante Alighieri

9:07 am
We're all pretty tired, a little stiff and worn out. We stayed in Teton Village, Wyoming last night. I took these pictures as we drove in yesterday evening, but I saved them for today because today is a travel day and this is going to be about as interesting as it gets. I forgot my good camera so I used my iPhone for everything. It was hit and miss, as far as quality goes, but I'm so glad I had it.

The bottom is a view of the Teton Mountains across Jackson Lake as we approached from the north east. The top right is a closer look at the Tetons after we passed the lake and the top left is an elk we stopped to observe. From a very safe distance. There were half-a-dozen cars stopped to take photos. This isn't uncommon through Yellowstone, and I guess the Grand Tetons National Park as well.

12:27 pm
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!

1:00 pm
We gassed up, cleaned the windows and just ate in the cleanest McDonald's we've ever seen. We still haven't won a million dollars, but we did pick up a free medium fries and a free McFlurry or Fruit and Yogurt Parfait today.

2:47 pm
Welcome to Idaho. LadyBug has the sillies, which, I suppose, is better than the grumpies. Between you and me, Grasshopper and LadyBug have done really well on the long car rides this trip has entailed.

3:53 pm
Welcome to Utah!

4:26 pm
Welcome to Wyoming! Wait. What? Another winding road, I suppose. Three states in three hours. Too funny.

6:59 pm
I missed the sign that said we'd crossed back over into Utah, but we're home again. Objective: bathroom.

8:48 pm
I think we have everything unpacked. The Not-So-Little Bugs all their dirty laundry sorted and got their suitcases put away in short order. They were highly motivated by the promise of screen time.

It's nice to be home.

We haven't done very many vacations, but this was nice and I haven't had my fill of visiting new places. Mr. Bug has been wanting to visit the West Coast for years now. I'm going to make it happen next summer. We'll start in lower Washington or upper Oregon and then head on down to California. The year after that, we're going to see Mt. Rushmore. And somewhere in there, we're squeezing in a trip to Disney World. That's a different kind of vacation, and we've been putting it off for years. My Disney rewards points {which will pay for about ⅔ of the trip} expire soonish. And the Not-So-Little Bugs will be grown up and gone before we know it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Travelogue: Day 4, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The National Parks: America’s best idea. –Ken Burns

8:47 am
Good morning, Montana! West Yellowstone is a fun touristy town, but today we're going to the main attraction — Yellowstone National Park. I can't wait!

10:56 am
We've checked out of our hotel, got everything loaded in the car and we're foraging for food. The continental breakfast left a lot to be desired, especially for the non-dairy eaters.

11:32 am
Food: check.
Gas: check.

And I've decided to go back and get those earrings made from moose antlers.

Pete & Vicki Gould go out in the spring and pick up antlers, which are naturally shed at that time. Then they make pretty things from them. Lots of the designs had a very distinct Native American flavor to them. I picked a fairly subtle pair, which I think will be good to wear any time. I love the pretty turquoise accent.

11:58 am
We're off on a treasure hunt. Mr. Bug thinks Forrest Fenn might have hidden a million dollars in gold near Hebgen Lake. It is in the opposite direction of Yellowstone Park, but it should be fun to have a look around.

12:38 pm
Hebgen Lake. Beautiful, no?

In 1959, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Hebgen Lake. Part of the highway that ran through the area fell right off into the lake. As a result of the shifting earth, the water in the lake appeared to tilt. Several cabins came off their foundations and were set adrift. The earthquake caused the capacity of the lake to increase by 2.6 billion gallons and moved the shoreline of the lake; boat docks were left high and dry on one side, while dry land on the opposite side became part of the lake.

12:46 pm
Mr. Bug has found a trail to a lookout over the river that flows from Hebgen Lake. He thinks that the "F" created by the change in terrain on the mountain behind him is a clue to the treasure. The river in the bottom right of the collage runs for miles and miles and is famous for fly fishing. As we walked along the trail to get there, we saw tons of the black and white butterflies and when one finally landed, I had to get a picture.

Mr. Bug was satisfied with this scouting trip and we're on the road again.

1:51 pm
We are now entering Yellowstone National Park. We have been warned to be bear aware.

1:54 pm
Welcome to Wyoming!

2:28 pm
We are at the Lower Geyser Basin. There is a raised wooden walkway that allows you to see all kinds of neat geothermal and hydrothermal activity. On the left, hot water has seeped up to ground level. The temperature is just right for bacterial growth, which gives it that pretty caramel color. The top right photo is of Celestine Spring, which, as you can see, is boiling hot {temperatures above 200˚}, and gives off a strong sulfurous odor. I did my best to keep notes, mental and written, but I'm not exactly sure what that bit of muddy water is called in the bottom right picture. But it was pretty interesting.

On the top left, the Bug Clan is standing in front of a morning geyser. It continuously spit hot water and was really fun to watch. The top right is Silex Spring. It is fairly deep. The orange on the ground behind the spring is bacteria growing in the warm water. On the bottom, the hot water seeps up through the ground and flows downhill. It kills any vegetation it comes in contact with. I think the white tree trunks are really pretty.

3:08 pm
1 mile to Old Faithful! So. Excited.

3:22 pm
We've found a parking spot and were going to the Old Faithful Museum and Information Station. Objective: bathroom.

3:24 pm
The signs say that Old Faithful is erupting in 1 minute. New objective: find Old Faithful.

3:25 pm
Just as we came into the museum, Old Faithful went off. This picture is through the observation window in the building. Amazing. When does it go off again?

4:36 pm
We've filled our bellies and had a look around the General Store. It's time to see if Old Faithful is on schedule.

4:53 pm
The signs say the next eruption should be about now.

Waiting . . .

4:56 pm
False start

5:11 pm
After several stops and starts, we finally get the big show.

5:24 pm
In the two areas we stopped at today, the Lower Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, we saw license plates from 30 of the 50 states: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii {yes, really. It is more common than you think}, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. We also saw plates from three provinces in Canada: Alberta, Québec and Saskatchewan. We weren't really even trying. We only read license plates from one side of the aisles we drove down. It was a fun game to play.

Time to move on {although I'd really love to stay and explore more}.

5:53 pm
Continental Divide, elevation 8262 ft above sea level. This is the point at which water on one side of the divide flows into the Pacific Ocean and water on the other side flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

5:56 pm
We just passed a group of bikers. They have saddle bags and it looks like they are in it for the long haul. I wonder how long they have been travelling and what their destination is, or if they are just enjoying today's journey. I'm also super impressed that they are chugging along up this hill instead of pushing their bikes.

5:58 pm
Squirrel. Or was it a chipmunk that just darted out in the road in front of us.

It is my turn to drive. I'm trying to keep myself occupied.

6:01 pm
Continental Divide, elevation 8391 ft above sea level. Weren't we just there?

6:13 pm
Continental Divide, elevation 7988 ft above sea level. Apparently, this road snakes back and forth a little.

6:26 pm
Yellowstone Lake. This is now the main screen on my iPhone.

The shoreline was only about 50 feet from the road, but it was a different world. The sound of the waves hitting the shore was so peaceful.

6:43 pm
Lewis Falls

6:59 pm
Now leaving Yellowstone National Park.

8:38 pm
We're staying in Grand Teton Village tonight. We've just checked into our hotel.

We went to Yellowstone when I was a kid. I'm not exactly sure how old I was; perhaps 7 or 8. We slept in a rough rider cabin, much to the annoyance of a squirrel who had squatter's rights on the place. The two things I remember most from that trip are seeing the mud pots and visiting the Morning Glory Pool. I wasn't sure what to expect for this trip and hoped we'd be able to see and do a lot while we were there. We didn't really have time to do Yellowstone justice on this trip and part of me is really sad about that. I forgot that Google knows everything, which is helpful for planning. Even so, we {meaning Mr. Bug} are kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants operation around here and only booked our hotels for last night and tonight five days ago {Mr. Bug's brother & his wife were in charge of the reunion and took care of plans for Monday & Tuesday}. Minimal planning notwithstanding, what we did see was absolutely amazing! I had a really good time and I would definitely love to come back. Soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Travelogue: Day 3, West Yellowstone, Montana

Yellowstone Park Bear Safety Guide: Carry a bell and ring it as you walk along the trail to avoid startling a bear. If they hear you coming they'll run away, but if you startle them they'll attack. Carry pepper spray as a precaution. If bears are in the area, you can identify which species are near by their scat. Black bear droppings smell like huckleberries. Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper. –Adapted from a t-shirt in a souvenir shop

8:21 am
Wow. Vacation day three, already. It's going by too quickly. And I'm getting into some bad habits; staying up late and sleeping in late. It is hard to sleep in a strange bed, though.

Mr. Bug's brother is doing breakfast today. He's doing made-to order omelettes and they look fabulous. Each family has prepared a meal and it has all been really really good.

Mr. Bug's family reunion is over, so we'll be packing up and vacating the house we rented. I think everyone except for us is headed home. It has been a really fun couple of days.
{Mr. Bug's parents, Sondra and LaMar, LadyBug, Mr. Bug, Grasshopper, Elizabeth}

11:27 am
Mr. Bug's brother and his family live in Rexburg and have just bought a new house so we are going to stop by and see it since it's on the way.

1:23 pm
We stopped at the Wal-Mart in Idaho Falls for some travelling snacks and oil for the Trooper. In dog years, it's a 126 years old, so it needs a little TLC.

Grasshopper is officially addicted to McDonald's Apple Pies. Guess where we ate lunch? Still no Boardwalk. We have, however, won any breakfast sandwich except a McMuffin and an 8x8 Shutterfly album.

2:59 pm
Mr. Bug's brother's new house is beautiful. We had a potty break {there's just no getting around it} and we're back on the road. West Yellowstone, Montana, here we come!

Only 80 miles to go.

4:05 pm
I dozed off there for a bit. Did I miss it? Are we in Montana yet? No one knows. I probably missed it.

And I've learned my lesson. Dramamine 30 minutes before travel, no. matter. what. Otherwise, I end up with a migraine.

4:09 pm
Welcome to Montana! Yay! I didn't miss it. 10 miles to West Yellowstone.

4:17 pm
We have arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana — Destination: Adventure.

4:23 pm
The weather is really nice. It is slightly overcast with a nice breeze going. Grasshopper has decided that he's moving to Montana since it isn't as hot here {today} as it is at home.

5:02 pm
There is something irresistible about a hotel swimming pool.

7:13 pm
We're going to find some dinner and do some touristy things.

There were three other painted buffalo statues around town, like the one above. I wanted to stop and get a photo by each one, but no one was game. Grasshoppper would only consent to being in one photo while we were out. When they were in the pool earlier, he asked me to take his photo at least three times. Teenagers.

After we ate at Pete's Rocky Mountain Pizza and Pasta, LadyBug and I hit the souvenir shops pretty hard. Mr. Bug and Grasshopper were over that after we went into two places and spent quite a bit of time on the benches while LadyBug and I searched for the perfect trinkets to bring home. She settled on a Yellowstone pin. I haven't settled on anything, but I think I'll probably go back to one of the shops tomorrow and get some earrings made from moose antlers. They are made by a local woman who goes out and collects antlers that the moose have shed. She cuts and sands them, bleaches them and then hand paints them. They are a bit pricey at $40 a pair.

About 80% of what they sell in the shops are things you can get just about anywhere. One place had some really pretty earrings made from colored shells found in Hawaii. Another place was selling Russian nesting dolls. I'm sure that a fridge magnet that says, "Yellowstone" will find it's way into my suitcase, but that is a run-of-the-mill keepsake. I want to bring home something special too; I want to bring home something that I can only get here. And I want it to be something that I will use, not something that is going to collect dust. We won't be coming back here. I don't know if I will run across earrings like this again. But I want the night to think it over, because we still have a couple of days to go and who knows if there will be something better farther on down the road.

11:27 pm
Up past my bedtime again. But we're on vacation. Who has time for sleep? But I'm thinking it is going to be a little hard to get back into my routine next week.

Off to bed . . . looking forward to the next adventure.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Travelogue: Day 2, Tubing the Portneuf River, Idaho

What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt — it is sure to get where it is going, and doesn't want to go anywhere else. –Hal Boyle

12:24 am
Can't. turn. my. brain. off.

1:37 am
I miss my bed. A lot.

8:00 am
It's a good day. Day two of vacation!

I'm posting from my iPhone again today. It takes about four times as long.

Last night while I was cutting the watermelon for lunch today, two cute little girls, one being LadyBug and the other being her cousin, Amber, came and asked me if they could tell me a secret. I told them that they could. They asked if it could be somewhere else. I said it could. They led me to the back of the house, to the master bedroom and as we went, they asked me not to tell anyone else. Their excitement was almost tangible.

They led me through the bedroom into a small office. The room was completely empty, except for a built-in counter along one wall. There were no windows, and the floor had thick carpet on it. They pulled a rug, made from the same carpet, back to reveal a trap door in the floor, covered by the same carpet. Amber tapped out a knock and I heard footsteps. The door swung up and two more cousins, Emily and Kate, emerged from a secret basement.

Emily explained that they wanted an adult to know where they were so no one would worry. They had placed either five hand towels or five placemats on the floor in a circle. There was a plate of cookies in the center and a cup for each girl at her spot in the circle. They showed me thier secret knock, asked whether I had a flash light and if I could bring a fifth cousin down when she got back from running an errand with her dad. They told me to make sure to put the rug over the trapdoor and sent me on my way.

This was awesome on so many levels. LadyBug and her cousins had found one of those magical places that only exist in childhood. And something I had done made me the cool mom who they could trust with their secret.

8:41 am
Booyah! We're on vacation! It's only day two, but it is going by so quickly.

9:15 am
Breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit.

9:50 am
We are going tubing on the Portneuf River today. We're in charge of lunch. I did a bit of prep yesterday, but I need to cook the bacon for sandwiches and slice the tomatoes. I think we're leaving about 10:30. That should be plenty of time to get the rest of the prep work done and the food packed.

10:09 am
Mr. Bug just started pulling food from the fridge to put it in the coolers. I forgot that I brought celery to cut into sticks and onions and cucumbers to slice for sandwiches. I'd better cut faster.

11:07 am
Portneuf River, here we come!

12:28 pm
It's a little bit like herding cats, but we've all been properly sun blocked, outfitted with life jackets, tubes have been rented, groups designated and we're getting in the water.
{LadyBug, Emily, Sarah, Amber}

Having too much fun to keep track of the time
Lunch was great and everyone is having so much fun.

Best thing about the day: splashing down the river.
Nothing you can really do about the day: the shortness or lack of length of the river run.
Worst thing about the day: sand in your shoes.
{Tyler & Grasshopper}

5:00 pm
Someone did keep track of the time, and our tube rental is up. We have to turn them back in and bid the river farewell. All good things must come to an end.

6:28 pm
Dinner: taco salad. Yum!

8:26 pm
Some of the folks are headed to the hot springs. Mr. Bug and the Not-So-Little Bugs don't want to go. But I think I will.

9:23 pm
Wow. That water is really warm. And this is supposed to be the cooler pool?

10:33 pm
That was really relaxing. I'm so glad I went.

Today was a really fun day! And tomorrow is another adventure.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Travelogue: Day 1, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

The joy is in the journey. –Unknown

5:30 am
My alarm is going off. It's a good day. It is the first day of vacation. And I'm sleeping in.

7:45 am
Nope. Not yet.

9:00 am
OK. It is time to get serious about vacationing. Where did I put that checklist?

10:15 am
I think we made pretty good time getting the car packed. We're a little bit late getting out the door, but we're on vacation, so we can do what we want, right?

10:23 am
Breakfast at McDonald's. What you eat on vacation stays on vacation.

10:37 am
Mr. Bug got new tires on Saturday, checked the oil and gassed up the Trooper. But we're making a quick stop to get the squeaky belts we got a month ago tightened and then we'll really be on our way.

Only three hours to go.

10:58 am
Mr. Bug's sister is calling. It is probably a good thing that we're a little bit late getting underway. They forgot the inner tubes for tomorrow. We'll stop at their house and get them.

11:14 am
I'm loving the chit-chat going on as we drive.

11:46 am
We got the tubes. And had a quick potty break. Already. I promise I went before we left.

12:27 pm
Oh, look at those colorful kayaks on that car in front of us. They must be headed off for a fun summer adventure. Wait. We're headed for a fun summer adventure. Awesome.

1:29 pm
What is it about about travel and migraines? I put those pressure point wrist bands on before we left to help with the motion sickness, which is sometimes a trigger. I came prepared, with plenty of drinks. And the moment I started to even think that I might be feeling that familiar left-side-only ache, I took my meds. Only two more hours until I can take some more. Sigh.

1:33 pm
Welcome to Idaho! I've never been to Lava Hot Springs. I'm kind of excited. We'll be there soon.

2:09 pm
Wait. That sign just said we're going to Burley. It should say we're headed to Pocatello. And we should have gone through the Malad Pass. I think we got on I-84 instead of staying on I-15 an hour or so back. That is always a tricky spot because to stay on I-15 you have to take a turn-off.

Ugh. No data service. No digital navigation. I'll give my sister, who lives in Idaho Falls, a call to see if she can help us.

2:28 pm
Yep. We were on the wrong road. My sister headed us in the right direction and we've got data again. Yay for Google maps.

3:07 pm
Rest stop. Gotta love a road trip.

4:00 pm
Lunch. Finally. McDonald's again. I'm determined to win at Monopoly. All we need is Boardwalk and we've won a million dollars.

4:38 pm
Home sweet home.

We're vacationing with Mr. Bug's family. The challenge is finding a place big enough to accommodate everyone. Even missing 16 (out of 51) people, there aren't enough beds by half.

5:11 pm
Well, we've got all our luggage in and a bed claimed for Mr. Bug and me. It looks like Grasshopper will be camping with the older boys in the back yard and we've found a comfy spot for LadyBug with some of her cousins.

5:13 pm
Everyone is back from Lava Hot Springs. Due to our detour through Burley, we missed swimming today, but it's all part of the game. We have lots of fun things planned for the next few days and we're having a good time.

6:20 pm
Dinner: baked fettuccine, salad, homemade rolls, conversation and camaraderie.
{Riley, Tyler, Sarah, Kenneth, Andrew, Myriam, Grasshopper, Mr. Bug, LadyBug}

7:03 pm
We brought Mr. Bug's laptop, but there's no WiFi. We're kind if in the boonies, but I do have data service, so I'm trying out Blogger's app from my iPhone. There aren't many editing options and typitty-typing on the little keyboard on my screen is tedious. But, I'm on vacation and I have plenty of time.

8:36 pm
It's about time to wrap up. We're in charge of lunch tomorrow and I need to cut the watermelon and prep a few other things.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's adventure.

8:42 pm
Hold the phone. It appears as though today's adventure isn't over. Some if the girls found a garden snake and have decided to make a pet of him.
{Emily, Amber, Kate, LadyBug}


{Amber, LadyBug}

{Amber, LadyBug, Kate}

Until the next adventure . . .

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Feelin' Groovy

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

–Paul Simon, 59th Street Bridge Song

Once upon a time, I fell in love with Pat Bravo's Indie fabric line. I was so in love that I bought a half-yard of every print. And I decided to share the love. I gave away a fat quarter bundle. I made some Stitchy Kits, one to keep and one to give away. And then I made a Folded Fabric Star tote bag to tote my Stitchy Kit and stitching projects around in. Lori Holt, designer of the Stitchy Kit left me a comment on the post about that. I love it when famous people comment on my little blog. Ryan Tilby, bass player from Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband left me a comment once. It was awesome. Then he came back and commented again. But that's not the point of this story.

Just over a week ago, lightning struck again. Pat Bravo left me a sweet comment and invited me to enter her Groovy Instagram Contest. I was so flattered. I signed right up for Instagram and spent the next day fiddling around with it and entering my tote bag and Sitchy Kit ensemble in Pat's contest. There were 85 entries. She announced two winners on July 8th and on Monday she announced two more winners.

A half-yard bundle of Pat's newest line, Carnaby St in the Cool Peace colorway is on its way to me. The happy thing about a half-yard cut of fabric is that there is enough to share. And fabric this good is meant to be shared. Just sayin' :wink:.

Thank you, Pat, for a really fun contest. And thank you for making the world a little more beautiful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seven Days Without Sewing Makes One Weak

Doldrums: \ˈdōl-drəmz\
1. a spell of listlessness or despondency
2. a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms, squalls, and light shifting winds
3. a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump

Once upon a time, about 2½ weeks ago, I kind of fell into a funk. About six weeks ago, I made a major adjustment to my schedule so that I could be around more for the Not-So-Little Bugs during summer. Overall, it has been a really positive change. I like being the first one in at work. I get a lot more done while it's quiet. And I also get to go home before everybody else; before lunch even. I think, too, that going to bed earlier {it's usually still a little bit light out} and getting more sleep has had a positive effect on how many migraines I get and how long they last {i.e., I'm having fewer and they don't hang on for days}.

I'm trying to keep this as non-whiney as possible, but what this little back-story is leading up to is that somewhere in there, I kind of lost my "me" time. And maybe a little bit of me, too. I know that making sacrifices for your kids is part of being a parent. But I kind of felt like there was a whole lot of resistance in the ranks to where I wanted to go {which, in the literal sense, was anywhere but sitting around at home staring at the screens all day}, getting up early to go to work, going to bed early so I could get up early to go to work, and trying to out-stubborn {in a happy, positive, encouraging kind of way} the reticent {or alternately defiant} Not-So-Little Bugs all combined to make me feel like I was kind of failing a little bit at life. Subsequently, not even sewing sounded fun. So for a few days, I didn't.

Going without sewing for a few days is no big deal. Sometimes you just need a little break. Going a whole week without sewing was kind of a red flag for me. I decided that I'd better get back to the machine and I started to write this post. Well, sort of. I had a clever post title {I puns}. A few more days went by and still no sewing. At around the 11th no-sew day, it became a bit of a game and I decided to see if I could go a full two weeks without sewing. I think that was the turning point and by day 13, I was itching to do something creative. It was the 4th of July and it is kind of my tradition to work on my Patriotic Sampler for a few days every year around this time. {I know. It would make more sense to start working on it in April so it would be finished and ready to display on the 4th.}

I've been working on this sampler for about twelve years now. I started it when I was pregnant with LadyBug. She's eleven. It is my second oldest Ph.D, and I don't know why I don't just finish it already :lol:. I'm so close. Anyway, I decided I'd work on some of the itty, bitty paper pieced stars that go at the corners of the blocks in the sashing. It was then that I found out that my post title was more true than I knew. After the first star {which took an hour because I fussed and fiddled and unpicked a lot to try and get the stripes to line up} I was ready to quit. My sewing muscles {the mental ones that help you push through a boring/difficult/unpleasant part of a project} were seriously out of shape. I persisted, even though I didn't really want to. The non-stripey ones only took thirty minutes each. Seven down. Only twenty more to go.

Cute, no? They finish at 1". Who designed this quilt anyway?
Oh. Right. It was me.

After I'd had my fill of that, I put together one of two remaining blocks for the quilt top. It has been cut out and ready to go for, oh, I don't know. Four years now? This one is called Land of Liberty as was designed by Marcia Hohn at The Quilter's Cache. I kind of love it. Pinwheels and flying geese in the same block? It doesn't get better than that.

For the final block, I had three contenders, only two of which I can remember at the moment, so I won't even bother to tell you about the losers. I showed them to Mr. Bug and he said, hands down, this should be the final block. It is called Spiderweb Star, and it is pretty awesome. {Note: if you make this block, reverse the cutting directions for template piece C/CR.}

I also fiddled around at the old doodle pad {Microsoft Picture Manager & Microsoft Paint} and changed my sashing from tan {the same tan used for most of the block backgrounds. Yeah, not sure what I was thinking there.} to white, moved the blocks around a bit and added the flying geese border. It's kinda wild and crazy. I think it will be a little more mellow with a scrappy collection of reds and blues in the flying geese section. I'm debating about whether or not to add a border between the sashing and the geese and another on the outside of the geese. What do you think?

Block Credits:
Row 1 - left to right
The Old Red and Blue by Marcia Hohn at The Quilter's Cache
Zig-Zag Flag inspired by Karen at The Recipe Bunny
Our Eagle pattern from a BOM my mom did at her LQS

Row 2 - left & right
Glory Flag pattern from a BOM my mom did at her LQS
Crossroads traditional block

Center Section - left to right, top to bottom
Uncle Sam pattern from a BOM my mom did at her LQS
Patriot's Star {modified} at
Banner Flag by Elizabeth
US Ribbon at Compuquilt
Pledge of Allegiance Embroidery by Elizabeth

Row 3 - left & right
July Fourth traditional block
54-40 or Fight {modified} or Star Shield traditional block

Row 4 - left to right
Land of Liberty by Marcia Hohn at The Quilter's Cache
Courthouse Steps traditional block
Spiderweb Star at McCall's Quilting

Thursday, July 4, 2013

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –Declaration of Independence

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, 56 men from 13 independent Colonies met together to declare independence from the Great British Empire. This would either be an act of high treason or the start of a brilliant new Nation. It was a strange and bold idea for a nation to have a self-ruled government, of the people, for the people and by the people.

The Colonies had been at war with Britain for a year, after the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, until the Second Continental Congress met on July 2, 1776 to look over a draft of the declaration. On July 4, 1776 the text was ratified. At this point there was no turning back. The Declaration of Independence was in black and white for the King and world to see, and for the Colonies to win a nation. It was not until 1783, after the Articles of Peace were signed and the British withdrew all troops, that the United States had won independence. The struggle for independence was not quick and it was not easy. It was 8 years of hard struggle until the war was over.

The fireworks displays during July 4th are spectacular in their beauty of color and sound. They should be a reminder to all of us that they were the frightening sights and sound of cannon, rocket and musket fire during the Revolutionary War, and all wars that followed to keep this Nation alive. What we find amazing and beautiful, the Colonist feared, as they brought death and destruction on the land. The freedom we enjoy was not free; it was paid for in blood and life, on both sides of the battle.

It was not until 1787 that the U.S. Constitution was signed but was not adopted until 1788 when, the last state, New Hampshire ratified it, five years after the end of war. The United States was a long time coming into being. The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended, in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors.

In the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention: A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” –Benjamin Franklin, his motto

Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”
–Benjamin Franklin

In closing, Red Skelton will give us his tribute to the United States of America.

I hope and pray we can keep the Republic.

Special thanks to my Dad for guest posting today!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Stitch In Time: June Finishes Giveaway Winner

For every finish-line tape a runner breaks — complete with the cheers of the crowd and the clicking of hundreds of cameras — there are the hours of hard and often lonely work that rarely gets talked about. –Grete Waitz

Thank you to everyone who linked up in June! It was so much fun to click through and read about your projects and see your pictures. Your enthusiasm is catching and I can hear my projects calling out to be finished. Right now, though, I'm pretty excited to announce our June winner, drawn by Grasshopper, who picked #8.

Avalong by Fig Tree Quilts

Congratulations to
:partytime: Allison :partytime:

Allison will receive a Honeycomb of Happy-Go-Lucky by Bonnie & Camille for Moda! Make sure you click on over and see Allison's adorable Lady Bug Picnic tote bag for patterns {I'm totally singing the Lady Bug Picnic song from Sesame Street in my head}. She also made a pretty rice sock {with hilarious commentary}. And if you haven't already, check out a few of the other finishes this month. There were so many great projects finished in June!

The July Finishes Linky Party is open, so you can link up as you go throughout the month. Remember to include the July Finishes button {code found in the July post} somewhere in any post you link up. Code for a button for your sidebar can also be found at the bottom of the July post. The he July giveaway is a charm pack of Road 15 by Sweetwater!
Road 15

Today's post brought to you by:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We Went to a Quilt Show. Because I Said So.

Searching is half the fun; life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.
–Jimmy Buffett

{The Quilt Mobile, as seen at The Original Sewing and Quilting Expo}

Last week I mentioned that we were going to a quilt show. Unfortunately, it wasn't the show with The Quilt Mobile. I mean how cool is that? My dad is going to be asking for one for Christmas.

I planned a little Scavenger Hunt to keep the Not-So-Little Bugs interested while I looked at the quilts. The show was rather smaller than I remembered it was in past years, so I had my fill of looking at quilts before Grasshopper had finished his scavenger hunt. How's that for irony :rofl:? A little bribery motivation in the form of an apple pie from McDonald's was all it took.

In the end, I came up with a list of twenty different quilts to find while we were there. I wanted the Not-So-Little Bugs to relate the quilts to themselves, but I threw in a few technical items as well. I came up with most of the list, but a few are from suggestions left in the comments on my post about it last week.

Find a quilt that reminds you of Summer.
Find a quilt that reminds you of Spring.
Find a quilt that reminds you of Winter.
Find a quilt that reminds you of Fall.
Find a quilt made for a specific holiday.
Find a quilt with your favorite color in it.
Find a quilt that only has two colors in it.
Find a rainbow quilt.
Find a quilt that you would like to have on your bed.
Find your favorite quilt.
Find a quilt with a blue ribbon on it.
Find a wholecloth quilt.
Find a hand quilted quilt.
Find a quilt with pinwheels in it.
Find a quilt with stars in it.
Find an appliqué quilt.
Find a quilt with feathers quilted in it.
Find a quilt with a grey background.
Find a pictorial or art quilt.
Find a scrap quilt.

When we got home, there were a few more suggestions in the comments.

Find a quilt with a cat/dog/animal on it.
Find a quilt that has a movie/tv/book theme.
Find a quilt that most resembles Mr. Bug's personality.
Find the ugliest quilt.

If I do this again, I will probably take some of the technical things off the list, shorten it a bit and add in a few of these items. Probably not the ugliest quilt, because that's just not nice. And with my luck, the person who made the quilt one of us deemed "the ugliest" would be standing right behind us while we photographed and recorded it on the Scavenger Hunt list.

It was really fun to come home and look through the photos and see the quilt show through LadyBug's and Grasshopper's eyes. Some of their choices were pretty obvious, or even a little off the mark. But some of them really surprised me and I loved seeing the quilt show from their perspectives.

We'll start with one of the more obvious choices. Both Grasshopper and LadyBug picked the same hand quilted quilt and I thought it was the best of the half-a-dozen or so there. It is called Simply Card Tricks.

The detail was amazing. If you click on the larger picture above, you can see some of it, but here's a close-up of the quilting in the card trick blocks.

One of the surprising picks was the quilt that Grasshopper wants on his bed. It was part of a collection of spotlight quilts done by Sharon Wright. There is a picture of The Savior in the center of the quilt. You can see it best when the picture is smaller, but make sure to click on it so you can see the beautiful detail in the Celtic knots.

Grasshopper chose this Super Mario Brothers quilt, as seen at the Cut to Pieces QAL and featured at Fandom in Stitches, which has 3888 – 1" squares, as his favorite. The quilt is 3x4, but Grasshopper's photography class doesn't start until school gets back in :wink:.

LadyBug chose this quilt, which was the first one inside the door, as the quilt that reminded her of summer! It is such an adorable quilt. I would have picked it for the appliqué quilt, but doesn't this just sing Summer to you?

LadyBug picked this pretty quilt, called Stepping Into Spring, as her appliqué quilt. I love the pretty colors.

Here's a close-up of the appliqué, which also has some embroidery.

This quilt, also by Sharon Wright, reminded Grasshopper of Summer.

I found it interesting that this quilt reminded Grasshopper of Winter.

It was probably my favorite quilt {but that's really hard to say for certain}, and what drew me to it were the colors, the Dresdens and the quilting.

But once Grasshopper said it reminded him of winter, it reminded me of it too.

I hope the Not-So-Little Bugs don't hold it against me too much that I dragged them to a quilt show, because I'm probably going to do it again later this month :mischief:.