Monday, August 30, 2010

Contrary to popular belief, I have not: a) run off and joined a Cirque show; b) sailed off into the sunset with the Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike; c) gone into hiding because I owe the Vegas mob...BIG TIME!

Nope, none of the above. I've just been running around non-stop and not been on the computer all that much.

Today we checked into Encore. As we walked through the heavily art-laden lobby, past the bars and uniformed employees to the elevators to our room, the hubs says 'I don't think I need to stay here again...this place is Pretentious' (note, that is with a cap 'P'). Let's just say that when we got to our room/suite, I looked at him and said 'I don't think we need to stay anywhere else, EVER AGAIN!'. You could fit our other rooms into the bathroom of our Encore suite. A bathroom that has built in lighting under the sinks (nightlight's), its own small flatscreen, both a tub and a glass enclosed shower. All the drawers close themselves. You get real wineglasses (made out of glass), the bar cabinet has lights inside, separate sleeping area (luxe bed), closets with frosted glass doors that also light from within....I don't want to leave.  Here's some pix the hubs took upon our arrival.
Okay, so we've just discovered that the hubs is not a threat to Annie Leibowitz or Ansel Adams....I'll take some photos of my own later, but hopefully you get the gist.

The casino is also marvelous....uncluttered, quiet, though the hostesses are rather slow delivering drinks. This is just two of 4 photos I took tonight on the same machine....10c a credit x 5 per pull (you set most of the slot machines how you want them). It's safe to assume that I fed it all back in over the course of the night.

Backtracking, I went to the greatest quilt shop.....Quiltique on Thursday. It was amazing....I think they must have sold every Moda fabric ever made. I picked up some more Henry Alexander Day of the Dead fabric.

I also went to Hobby Lobby, which was an unexpected thrill, and bought some neat fall deco stuff and some less expensive fabric to make some cool aprons (gifts for Christmas). Gotta love Hobby Lobby. Wish we had one in Maryland.

I believe I mentioned the meatfest that was Thursday at Texas de Brazil....cocktails at Blue Martini....check this out:

This is the bar at Blue Martini...too cool for school.

Cirque Elvis was fun....during the big finale, red satin scarves flutter down from the ceiling. The hubs was able to snag one for me. More dancing/singing than acrobatics, it was still good, and the new City Center is quite posh. The Aria hotel and casino where the Elvis Cirque is based is gorgeous, but it's got some pricey slots...never saw a quarter, and the Pai Gow poker was $25 minimum/$10,000 maximum per hand...can you say 'high roller' boys and girls?

On Saturday, I walked from the Mirage to the Fashion Show Mall to visit Bare Escentuals cosmetics and to get my colors professionally matched. Now I've got all the right colors in my makeup bag.

I would continue, but it occurs to me that in my real time, it's 5 am. Vacation time makes it 2 am, and I'm still existing somewhere in between. I need to get some shut eye so I can get up early and check in for Tuesday's flight home. I'll upload more photos tomorrow. I've got the whole morniing to kill while the hubs golfs, though I suspect that half of that time might be spent exploring Wynn and Encore.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Luck Be A Lady Tonight.....

Got to the hotel, checked my email and woo hoo, I was one of the 3 winners of the recent Superior Threads giveaway. I just need to pick 5 colors of their new silk thread. Thanks Superior! (And the Quilt Show for promoting the giveaway).

So, I'm thinking this could be a sign, and I promptly headed down to the casino and ran through half my daily gambling allowance---IN LESS THAN AN HOUR!. (Okay, so lucky at thread, unlucky at slots).

After feeding bills into the dollar slots and coming up empty, I headed back to quarter land, and within a minute of sitting down at a 10 Times Pay machine I found myself waiting patiently and whistling Dixie for about five minutes while the machine racked up 3000 credits (I hit 10x 10x triple bar). $750 on a quarter bet. Not too shabby. Think I'll stick to quarter slots for the rest of the trip now. :)

I would have taken a picture but the hubs was back in the room checking on his Fantasy League draft and had my cellphone tethered to his notebook for internet access, and I didn't have room for my camera in my purse. Tomororw I promise to take photos.

There were two other great things I shoulda, woulda, coulda had the camera for....we went to some cheesy old school casino across the street - Wild Bill's, for 99c margaritas once we dropped off our luggage in our room. They had an Elvis impersonator. Now, I only heard him as I was sitting at a slot machine (I know, I have a disease, but it wss the first casino op of the trip..other than at the rental car place,and no one was playing those, so it would have been really geeky to do that)--I digress..back to the Elvis impersonator. The hubs fought his way through the crowd to check him out and came back and said he was the 'fat Elvis'. Now, we all know what that refers's the Elvis before the end, bloated, Spandex jumpsuits. Okay, farir enought, and then he tells me, no, I mean the FAT Elvis. Apparently the guy weighed 350 pounds and couldn't even stand to perform, he had to sit--imagine sitting and singing Viva Las Vegas. I swear....I will do my very best to get back there tomorrow at around that time and hopefully document this for you.

After dinner we walked through Paris out to the Strip to watch the fountains at Bellagio. I turn to my left, and who do I see but none other than ....wait for it......CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW (swoon). Okay, so he was a damn good impersonator. We were having a little trouble deciding whether or not he was a girl, but that's beside the point. There were a couple of girls hanging out taking photos and I guess trying to get him/her back to their hotel room, until he mentioned that they needed to pay him for taking pictures with him. Talk about ruining the romantic moment. The one girl dug in her purse and gave him a couple bucks and quickly hurried away with her friend. As we walked by there was a large, clearly non-American family posing. We didn't stick around to see their reaction. You do what you gotta do. I've always seen the Elvis impersonators on the street, but a good Jack Sparrow was a real treat. Again.....if he's out tomorrow, I'll snap a pic (and give him/her a couple bucks).

Enough excitement for one night. It's only 10, but it's really 1. We need to get up early tomorrow so I can figure out the quilt shop hop. After that I'll take the camera out. It was 106 today, and probably still 100 at 9:30. But as they say in the's a dry heat, so it's not so bad (yeah, right!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

Tomorrow morning I'll be winging my way to Vegas for 7 days/6 nights. Gonna swap the sewing for a little gambling (okay, a lot of gambling).....and free drinks...Cirque, killer food, Pawn Stars......Whoa! Rewind! Did she say 'Pawn Stars'?? Yes, planning a little excursion to the shop, hope Chumlee is working that day. Seriously, we can't spend all our time in the casinos.

Checked the temps today...looks like it's 105-106 during the day, but there's a cold front coming in for the weekend where it's only going to be 100-101. Gotta love that. (Did I pack a sweater?)

I'll likely do a shop hop of the Vegas quilt shops Thursday while the hubs hits the links. I'd also like to pop downtown and visit my favorite Christmas designers of all time, Ralph Jones Display. Not that I'm buying anything Christmas these days, but it's always fun to see what's going to be all the rage this season, though it might be a little early for that. I'll have to call.

Thursday night it's Happy Hour at Blue Martini and dinner at Texas de Brazil. Yum-o!

I even managed some 'me time' done (it's fabulous....bouncy, sleek, straight),  a lovely pedicure to rock my Fit Flops....I am ready to roll.

Oh, and what's the coolest thing about the trip?  I get to freeze time (being that when it's 5:30 here, it's only 2:30 our 5 hour flight really only takes 2 hours. Cool, eh? Of course, this means that for the first couple days I'm rolling out of bed, wide awake and ready to rumble at 5 a.m. -- and yes, I've been known to sit at a slot machine with a cup of coffee until 7, which I figure in Vegas is an acceptable time to switch to Bloody Mary's (wink).

Wish me luck, turn up the volume and enjoy my selection of Vegas-themed blog tunes. Mix up your own Bloody Marys and check back often, as I'm taking the netbook and the camera. It's no fun if what happens in Vegas stays in least at my age, it's not. I'll treat you to the sights of Sin City, and hopefully to a photo or two of Triple Triple Stars on a $1 slot :).


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Call the doctor!

Something is seriously wrong with's only Tuesday and she's finished piecing and sewing together all 336 pieces of Hunter Star needed for Friday's class.

Of course, this is hardly near completion. It still needs an inner border, and then a piano key border, and a pieced backing. And, I've still got the top for Windmill Farm to finish, along with the art quilts and the bargello table topper. I'm hoping to finish up whatever is easiest this weekend so I've got an OPAM finish for the month to post. Hmmm....maybe I could whip out a couple of holiday tea towels just for the finish.

No sewing after Sunday(gasp!) There's a lot of other tasks I need to attend to early next week. Come Wednesday at lunchtime, we'll be winging our way to Vegas, baby! And while I do intend to blog from Sin City, I'm trading in the sewing machine for a slot machine for a week.

The hubs and I need to sit down and figure out our schedules...well, his softball schedule for the tournament so I can get show tickets, make dinner reservations, plan some shopping, maybe a quilt shop hop, a trip to Ralph Jones Display (Christmas is coming), see if the swap meet places from a couple years ago still exist. I need to put together some lists, do some ironing, pick up some travel needs. I'm not sure we've got a rental car. unlike me to not start thinking about any of this until a week before we leave. Not like me to finish putting all those blocks together 4 days before deadline either. Am I sure I'm not suffering some serious malady??

Not to worry, I've got a doctor's appointment for Monday, so brain tumors, delusional episodes, multiple personality disorders can all be ruled out. :)  I have had a sore neck for almost a week now. While I did run that down in Google to find it could be an indicator of mouth cancer, I suspect the real cause  was lifting that hulking Bernina 1260 in and out of the car, all while shouldering one or two huge Vera Bradley tote bags loaded with supplies to classes 5 out of 7 straight days. Which might also explain some other recent pains. It sucks to get old.

'Excuse me, but can we go to bed now?'

Paco's been hanging in the studio lately. I think he may have overheard the hubs and I discussing how we'd get a teacup chihuahua home from Vegas, should we run across them at the indoor swap meet place, like we did the last time we were there together. I don't think Paco's fond of the idea that he could be dethroned from his cushy round studio throne (he's so insecure). Or else he's realized that he's either going to Ricky's house for a week, or Ricky is coming here to stay for a solid week. Yeah...that would send him into a downward spiral of depression. He'll snap out of it as soon as he hears the cookie jar open (can you say short term memory lapse? well, he is a chihuahua, and his roots are in Mexico....draw your own conclusions here)

It has occurred to me that we haven't had a giveaway in a while. I've been too distracted with classes. The giveaways will resume on my return, and who knows, they might include a little bit of Vegas bling.

Take heart, the week's half over. You've still got time to do something you love, so get on that.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

42 blocks x 8 pieces each

= question my sanity!

6 p.m. Saturday, after spending all day cutting and laying out stars so no two were alike and each had a definite light and dark

11 p.m. Saturday, trying to figure out all the little pieces needed to fill it in (you can't see it, but those light blues are 2 different patterns....yes, I am certifiable).

3 p.m.'s all on the design wall, though we dare not turn on the ceiling fan! 

4:00 p.m. Sunday - Reward before sewing (dirty martini, 3 olives, shaken, not stirred)

4:30 Sunday, we figure out they will sew together as blocks (oh, thank God! thought I had to work with piecing  long diagonal strips across width of quilt...phew!)

Sunday 5:30 p.m., 1 row, 3 blocks in. Need to break to fix dinner. Daughter has just arrived to silence grandpup who has been yapping incessently since noon....every once in a while I wander to the top of the stairs and yell 'Rick! Put a sock in it!'. Unsuccessful.

This needs to be a quilt top by class time on Friday. Can she do it?????

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's On My Design Wall?

Well, it has to do with these scraps, and I thought I had taken a picture.....I just finished labeling 15 blocks and packing them up for class tomorrow. Photo after I do the sashing in class.

Speaking of class, that's where I've been. Last week was crazy.

Monday was the first class for Windmill Farm

Wednesday I started working on Mexican Star:

Eight more blocks to finish.

Thursday I learned how to do a proper binding, and Friday was a major disappointment.

I went to a Hunter Star class and once we started cutting I realized that the two background fabrics I had chosen to compliment my Timeless Treasure Indigo FQs was positively HIDEOUS. Not to mention it's very labor intensive and because I'm making each star different and each block contains the makings for 3 stars, it is also going to be very design wall intensive. Fortunately this class doesn't meet again until the 20th, so I was able to buy new background fabrics (another $48 investment into this quilt) and I've got some time to play catch up on all the cutting and piecing.

After Friday's class I was a late arrival at the neighborhood Happy Night where I learned that one should never drink rum and cheap red wine the same night. I don't know how I functioned in Saturday's class, which was an art quilt (applique) class. I do know that the pieces I cut out and pressed the edges under, which are ready for layout, do not look anything like a poppy when laid out. I stood to cut, I stood to iron, the teacher kept saying 'take a load off, have a seat while you cut those templates out, but going from standing to sitting with the mother of all hangovers is not conducive to remaining upright.

The splitting headache continued throughout the day. No number of ibuprofen, naproxen, Diet Cokes, granola bars, grapes had any effect. Finally around 9 p.m. I took a Percocet and it was gone this morning. If I had any sense at all, a little 'hair of the dog' might have ended my misery sooner, but I just wasn't feeling any love for Captain Morgan.

This morning I dragged my neighbor who may be interested in taking up quilting to a quilt show, and we spent the better part of the day critiquing the entries and playing with new sewing machines.

In test driving the new Bernina 300 series, they sat us down and we made these cute little zippered change purses that took 10 minutes and let us use different decorative stitches and change feet a bunch of times. (These Bernina's have snap on feet, but can still use the regular feet).

Of course I also spent equal time at the Babylock booth checking out the Sashiko machine and talking about the 12 needle embellisher while my neighbor checked out their sewing machines.

But...the biggest deal of the day? The only money I spent was on lunch and raffle basket tickets. I bought nothing at the show. (I must have been still feeling the after affects of Saturday.

(OMG....the only thing on TV is infomercials...what time is it? Crap, it's 1:30...need to wrap this up)

I've got the last Windmill Farm class tomorrow, and then I wound up in another waitlist class for a Garden Maze which has a kind of Celtic knot thing going on. Our anniversary is Wednesday and we're going to a British Invasion tribute concert at Strathmore Hall, so I should have more time to blog this week and maybe finish up one or two projects.

Oh, and let's not forget to mention that when I did get home from class on Saturday, the hubs had spent 5 hours in the kitchen prepping tomatoes and peppers for a salsa making session, so after an hour's veg out time, hoping to lose the nagging headache, he helped can 18 jars of salsa. And not just any salsa.....salsa so insanely hot that I'm putting a couple jars up in the medicine cabinet for winter, when I wind up with one of those head colds where I can't breathe through my nose...this will clear your sinuses right up.

I just don't understand men...let's use the hottest peppers known to man (Habarnaro) and leave the seeds in, leave the seeds in the Jalapenos, but remove the seeds from the Cubanelle and Poblano mild peppers. Oh, and we'll also add double the Tabasco sauce the recipe for spicy Salsa suggests as an optional ingredient. Well, on the bright side, we won't have to make Salsa again, since I don't see us using up this 18-jar batch in this lifetime :)

Well, it's off to the office for me tomorrow, and I need to go before I'm forced to buy a Magic Bullet....seriously, who doesn't want to invite 2 couples over to sit at my kitchen counter while I demo my nifty little chopper and make all kinds of crap.....oh wait.....they're making FROZEN DRINKS in it.....where the heck is the phone......

Have a great week! Stay cool, stay safe, stay sane (and sew if you can).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Caution:Hypochondriac quilting

I remember back when I was 18 years old, freshly married, and working in D.C., I used to devour every woman's magazine I could get my hands on during the hour-plus commute. One story that stays with me was the story of a healthy young 20-something woman who just dropped dead without warning. She had a headache and took some aspirin. Turns out what she really had was an undiagnosed brain tumor. For months after reading that article, every headache I had sent me into frantic worrying that I too had an undiagnosed brain tumor and would surely keel over on a downtown street, or in the back of the chartered bus on a Friday afternoon not to be found until Monday morning's commute..

Remember how I mentioned that Buster broke the Tiffany lamp as well as one of the CFL bulbs in it? Well, for the past few days I've had a neck ache, the kind that could happen if you thought you drove past Johnny Depp on the Beltway and you whipped your head around real quick to check and see if it really was him (but it wasn't). At any rate, no amount of naproxen has helped.

And you know how sometimes your toes hurt if you're wearing new thong-type flip flops that are just a little wider or rougher or stiffer on the part that goes between your toes? Well, my toes have hurt for a couple of days, only I haven't worn flip flops for five days. (dum dum dum dum).

Are you with me? The plot thickens....

A couple days ago I noticed the hanging plants in the kitchen window have been looking pretty 'not green'. Obviously in need of some kind of fertilizer, I've been plucking leaves off them with an increasing regularity. Looking at them tonight, I'm starting to wonder if our water doesn't contain some deadly chemical that is slowly killing us, and the plants are trying to tell me something....or maybe they're choking on mercury vapors wafting through the kitchen.

Could all of this be because I didn't run through the house and open all the windows and turn on the a/c and fans when that lamp hit the floor? And I actually picked up all the glass shards with my bare hands, sustaining a minor cut (where mercury undoubtedly leeched into my bloodstream), and I'm pretty sure I might have put my finger in my mouth when I cut it. And. I didn't  double bag the glass shards it and deliver it to the EPA, I just dropped it in the kitchen trash can where it probably sat for a day, oozing noxious, plant-killing vapors.

I'd like to think it's just my over-active imagination. The constant neck pain is some combination of my old overstuffed pillow on the new firm mattress...the rapidly dying plants might not have liked the tiny bit of acid-loving fertilizer they got over the weekend...I'm searching for some rational explanation. But then, there's a dark side that has me thinking that I could be a feature story in LHJ, and a year from now, some naive little twenty-something will start to wonder about her own neck ache.......or maybe I'll wake up in the morning to find I've grown an extra toe on each foot.

Other than that, productive last couple of days. Got the house totally cleaned as soon as the grandpup was picked up. Down to two dogs, back to normal. Managed to remember to go water my friend Anna's plants (she's at the beach). Went to my first class of 5 I've scheduled for this week, and I'm a third of the way through the homework for next week.

Pretty amazing that this:

turns into this:

The finished quilt is called Windmill Farm. The wide strips in each set cut at 7-1/8". I hope I never have to use 1/8" again. I'm going scrappy with Moda's Pumpkins Gone Wild from a couple years ago (O-M-G....she's using something from her stash!) The background is Kaufmann Kona Cotton. I'm thinkng about using a dark colored thread to quilt it....sort of like painting on a clean canvas.

Of course, all bets are off if I really do have Toxic CFL Syndrome.  If you don't hear from me for a week, call the EPA.

Non-toxic Tuesday wishes to all of you!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Goodbye July....Hello August!

O-M-G! Paco is just so happy that Buster was picked up this afternoon. Now, granted, Ricky (the Grandpup) also arrived yesterday  for a weekend stay, but Paco can deal with that. Now that strange-puppy-cousin-who-is-always-being-yelled-at has left the building, Paco can relax.

If you remember, I mentioned that the hubs was into living on the edge and invited the Grandpup over last night to bring our canine total to 4. After a little grumbling/growling/needed to be separated before blood spurted, they seemed to be tolerating each other. I headed up the street for 'happy night'. Shortly after leaving, I needed to return home for the fixings to make a proper 'Cosmo'. I called the hubs and he set it all out and was coaching me on the mixology, having left the stir fry dinner he made himself in the middle of the coffee table, in front of the tv.

Would it surprise you know that Buster took the opportunity of his absence from the family room to jump up on the coffee table and eat HALF of the hubs'dinner, which included ALL of the chicken. None of the other 3 dogs would have even considered the opportunity. :) I just filled my tote bag full of liquor bottles and juice and headed out the door. Not my problem (big grin).

Today was filled with visits to fabric shops in Frederick. Needed a few fabrics to supplement the stash for one of the classes this week. Had to pick up a pattern ($16!!!) for another, and since I just got into a waitlisted class, I needed to modify the fabric requirements to accommodate a bunch of FQs I've had for over a year, and buy some yardage to set them into. Speaking of accommodating, the hubs was very.

Not sure how this is going to work out...

But I needed something to be a major part of all those blues. It's a dusty, washed out kind of magenta, and a darker version. We shall see. It will either suck, or it will be really stunning. We'll find out on Friday. Looking at the picture, it looks like we're heading to Suck Town, but looking at the fabrics in person tells a different story.

Then I spent the rest of the night honing my OCD skills

These are all the fabrics for each class, ironed, Mary Ellen'd, and hung on skirt hangers with their class lists with the additional supplies needed highlighted. Yes, they're arranged by class day, as they hang in the studio closet. When you consider that I work 2 jobs and have classes scheduled for Monday/Weds/Thurs/Fri/Sat, I need to be uberorganized if I'm going to enjoy the classes I'm in. Fortunately, my part time merchandising next week is on the light side.

While I was in one fabric store this afternoon, looking for some coordinating fabric for one of the classes, I could hear the shopkeep talking to a customer. It sounded like they were talking about the children's book The Pink Motel. Now, that was one of my favorites, and if you check back a few months of posts, you'd know that I came across this postcard of the hubs'grandfather posing in front of a Florida pink motel that he owned in the 1940s, and I not only got the postcard but also acquired the book and shadow-boxed them.

I any rate, while I wanted to chime in 'hey, that was my favorite book when I was little', for some reason, today I decided to m.m.o.b. (mind my own business). A couple minutes later the shopkeep saw me and said 'did you see your sister....she just left the shop'. I must have looked a little confused because she then went on to detail their discussion....The Pink Motel, my blog, how I'm obsessed with quilting (the shopkeep interjected...'like that's a bad thing') and it dawns on me that I was overhearing her conversation with my sister and was oblivious that there was any connection. My sister is in the same quilt shop as me, at the exact same time, and neither of us knew it, or ran into each other....two ships passing in the night. Strange.  I haven't phoned her yet to tell her (she'll read this and find out :) ).

Well, it's already Sunday, and it's already August. The hubs is out playing poker, I'm tired of ironing fabric, so I think I'm going to take advantage of an empty bed and sprawl out. Plenty of time to do some sewing tomorrow.

Goodnight all!