Though Kate wasn't coming with us to Cornwall, she was going to the UK for a while and she managed to get a seat on the same flight to Gatwick that we were taking, so we were able to share a taxi to the airport. We said our farewells on the way to rent a car...
Overtaken by the charm of St. Ives, apparently, I overlooked the fact that it was a 5-hour drive from London and I was the only driver. I treated myself to an upgrade...
...which bit me good in the end*, but it was still worth it!!
It was dark by the time we got to St. Ives and we drove around for a while looking for our Airbnb. I'm pretty sure I drove down a lane (maybe this lane)...
...not meant for driving... in my sporty little car, in the dark. Yikes.
We stopped once for a few provisions but mostly directions. Hahahahahahaha. OMG.
We stopped a second time and, lucky for us, there happened to be a policeman in the shop and he offered to lead the way and then told us where to park (and he'd know our car and be sure not to give us a ticket). Parking is a very big problem in St. Ives! This was where 1) I realized, when he told me about the very tight turn-around, that I'd been down the street before and had just continued right through that "very tight turn-around" right into the not-for-vehicles lane (in my car), and 2) I scraped up against the curb while parking (the first bite*).
Our Airbnb was FANTASTIC:
The guy is a surfer (note the cool "light fixture" in the kitchen) and his wife's mum is a knitter (though yarn shops are not plentiful). There were two tiny bedrooms (because Kate might have come with us at one point), one of which we used for our suitcases and stuff. And while cute & cozy, that's not why we were there.
The minute this came into view, I pulled over to take some photos. The light was so pretty! Also: Cornish coast, farms, stone walls, water, and beautiful sky.
We meandered and stopped a few places, most notably at Land's End!
We also hunted down some standing stones.
These are The Drift Stones located near Penzance...
...in a field of daffodils! This can be quite a hunt, and we turned around a few times before we finally made it. (We were originally across the road -- if you click on the map, those buildings are an abandoned farm.) (At least we think it was abandoned!) There were other stones we could have found, but it was spring and fields were wet & mushy... we felt pretty great just finding this one! Luckily, it wasn't too far off the road and we were able to pick a reasonably dry path. So cool!
We had some pretty good food & drinks on this trip, but this simple breakfast was one of my favorites!
Toasted Cornish Saffron Bread is DELICIOUS!!
Then we took a walk to & through the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
It was just beautiful. Something to see at every turn. There's a tiny little house in the first garden photo above, in which there was a small bed... oh my goodness, I still get dreamy thinking about how wonderful it would be to take a nap there.
There was an old chapel and graveyard near the car park where we left the car most of the time. I couldn't help but walk through it a few times!
It wasn't long before we were on our way back to London, where I unknowingly picked up the second bite*! But first, we needed to see a few more standing stones...
It was a mile-long hike to get to Stonehenge from the (new) visitors' centre (we took a shuttle back), and I'm so glad we stopped! (You can also just drive by on the A303 and catch a glimpse.) It's amazing to see!
We returned to London and stayed at a hotel near Heathrow for our morning flight back home. Kate was still there, so we took the train to Paddington and met her for dinner & drinks at The Victoria (yes, I did that!) on our last night and caught up on goings-on.
Then homeward bound.
And finally home!
*They collected £50 for the first bite when we turned in the car. I was informed of the second bite by Hertz when they forwarded information from the Devon and Cornwall Police pertaining to a traffic violation; they charged another £50 for that "service." The email stated that "A copy of this fine is attached for your information (unless the offence is a Notice of Intended Prosecution, which legally has to be provided directly by the relevant police authority)." There was no attachment. Uh-oh. I got a speeding ticket -- my first in I-don't-know-how-long -- IN ENGLAND! They caught me on a camera! The cameras are marked by signs, most of which I noticed... I can almost recall breezing through that one, distracted by conversation with Rusty or something at the time. Anyway, to make a long story somewhat shorter, eventually there were forms to fill out and photocopies to send and it cost me another £100 + 3 points! Ugh.
That car was still worth it, though. Did you see that GPS? It popped up right out of the dashboard!!
Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...
I arrived home last night and am back at work today. I have a lot of catching up to do (in every single area of my life)! Today, I have a quick follow-up on last week's 3 Things on my NYC list:
2 -- Parks: Central Park and The High Line.
I had a wonderful time, and the weather was great! It was great to see Kate and spend some time in the city with her. We put on a lot of miles, visiting museums, parks, eating some great food, visiting a few neighborhood pubs, and we even saw a movie (Rocketman). We never made it north of 34th Street!
Kate's there for another week, staying at a friend's apartment in the East Village and working in Brooklyn to hang a show for Greenpoint Open Studios.
OK. Back to work! I'll be back...
Our time in Valencia was so different this visit compared to last because of Las Fallas. The daily events, the crowds, the noise, the fireworks. We stopped at Mercado Central and that, in a nutshell, highlighted the difference between our two visits to Valencia -- it was all but deserted! Many businesses close altogether for the final few days of the festival.
We didn't fail to notice that it was spring!
Or the interesting logo of one of the Falla artists (maybe that was just me).
We had plenty of time before La Cremà, so took a walk around The City of Arts & Sciences. We'd visited before at night, so it was nice to see in the daytime. It's so beautiful and... other-worldly.
Contributing to the noise of Las Fallas is the fact that every kid in the city has a small box of their own fireworks to shoot off! Often carried around their necks, they're about the size of a shoebox (a boy in the photo above is carrying one on his arm), and there are entire stores and catalogs devoted to the selling of items with which to fill it. I saw young boys setting up/blowing off their own mini-mascletà type displays. I saw young fallera in traditional dress, no more than 4 or 5 years old, plopped on the ground and lighting off firecrackers. I saw old men toss extra goodies into kids' boxes as if handing out candy at Halloween. It was all quite something. And I didn't see anyone get hurt.
On the day after La Cremà, the festival officially over, most people went right back to work/school. Ann, Brian & the kids had an extra day off, but laid low and prepped for their return to work/school the following day (which would be our departure day).
Rusty took off for some time at the beach.
Kate & I took a walk to Old Town. We found some lunch, did a little shopping, and made our way to The Church of San Nicolás, aka The Valencian Sistine Chapel.
We walked over to The National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts with the intention of going in, but were were already on overload and this was the EXTERIOR of that building...
I can't imagine the visual overload awaiting visitors within... we put it on the list for next time! (With a nod to my mother who always left something for next time, no matter how likely it was that she'd actually return... it was the idea of it, looking to the future, holding out hope.)
It was a beautiful day! And it was so festive with all those flags flying.
I think we saw this facade last time -- I know we were right there -- but there's also a "skinniest house" right there and last time there was a market of some sort in the square.
It's so cool, though, isn't it?
In our wanderings, we also found ourselves at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and you'd never have known that a 9-story tall, wood & papier mache graffiti-decorated sculpture was burned there mere hours before.
"We were standing here," and I'm taking the photo within feet of where the sculpture was located.
We had a nice dinner and final evening together in Valencia. Ann, Brian & the boys were off to school & work the next day, and Rusty, Kate & I shared a cab to the airport for the next phase of our trip.
Randomly, this is Addison's favorite snack and, I have to say, it would also be mine if I could find them here (or anything even close)! They're like flat crispy bread sticks -- smears of dough, actually -- studded with sunflower seeds. Yum.
And with that, have a great weekend!!
Las Falles is... incredible! And impossible to "sum up," but I will give it a go. I shared a few posts on Instagram along the way (there's one linked later in this post), and the hashtag #falles2019 (or #fallas2019) are pretty great.
Las Falles is the biggest celebration in Valencia, held annually March 1-19 in commemoration of Saint Joseph... and/or spring. What it actually has to do with Saint Joseph and how/what this spectacle actually commemorates/relates is beyond me.
It's a party! Pure and simple. And it has many facets, not the least of which is noise and fire. It's a slow build, hitting a crescendo during the last five days/nights. That's when the falles appear.
Valencia is comprised of many communities, also known as falles, and each one constructs two sculptures every year of papier mache (or, as I've been told, more recently of polystyrene).
Guess which image was blocked on Instagram?
Each community has a large sculpture (sometimes enormous), often political or satirical in nature, and another smaller one for children (infantil). We had the chance to page through a publication about each community's design inspiration, designers, falleras, and cost -- there were something like 395 of them! Times 2. And some costing in the neighborhood of €300,000.
The detail is incredible.
The events during Falles, according to Wikipedia (which is a pretty good article) are such:
- La Despertà
- "The wake-up call" each morning at 8 am when bands play and firecrackers are set off. I heard bands, but never at 8 am... and the firecrackers were going off 24/7. I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me that fireworks & firecrackers would become "background noise," but it most definitely does.
Crowd gathering for the final mascletà, as seen (and heard) from our perch at the Plaza de Toros.
- La Mascletà
- This is an explosive, percussive, coordinated display of firecrackers and fireworks, almost choreographed, that occurs every afternoon in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This also seems to build each day, and pyrotechnics compete for the honor of providing the final mascletà. The crowds are huge, and I never saw this happen, but I certainly did hear it and see the smoke.
This was the major winner. It was in a distant community, so we took a bus to see it. Do you see Bo Peep?
- La Plantà
- All of the falles are to be finished by March 15th in order to be judged for the competition.
- L'Ofrena de flors
- All day long on March 17 & 18, falleros and falleras make their way to a large wooden frame in the shape of the Virgin Mary with an offering of flowers. These flowers are added to and arranged on the frame to fill in the "dress."
- Els Castells and La Nit del Foc
- We missed some of the earlier displays, but we definitely made our way to one of the bridges spanning Turia Park for La Nit del Foc ("The Night of Fire"), which began at 1:30 am. Wow. Seriously, Valencia during Las Falles is a pyrotechnics dream.
- Cavalcada del Foc
- I didn't see this, but that's okay...
Notice the flower bouquets for the Virgin Mary's dress.
- Traditional Dressing
- The traditional dress and costumes worn by the fallero and falleras is colorful and quite pretty. And they're all ages -- from infants (see the stroller, above, but I saw even younger) to their grandparents. I don't know the historical significance of it all, but there's a hierarchy to it all and almost nothing happens during Las Falles unless there's a fallera present to strike the match or give the signal to begin.
- La Cremà
- On this, the last night of the celebration, all of the falles are burned. The falla infantil are all burned first, at around 10 p.m. There are fireworks going off here and there. There's usually some sort of small mascletà and/or ground display around the falla, which are strung and stuffed with fireworks. A fallera lights the fuse and... stand back. We saw one infantil burn. The main ones begin to burn around midnight. In addition to each neighborhood's falles, there is a large "city" one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This year it was a nearly 9-story tall, traditional wood & papier mache structure in the shape of a seated woman, decorated with graffiti. It was quite beautiful. This one was to burn around 1 am.
Instead of watching any of the larger neighborhood falla burn, we made our way to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for the burning of the main "city" falla. Annie knew someone who knew someone, and for €25 each, we found ourselves on a 2nd story balcony with a fabulous view, unlimited snacks & beer & wine, and arguably one of the best spots in the city.
This is part of the crowd gathered for the event.
It was very dramatic, as all the lights went out (the illuminated building in the rear is the post office!).
Then the fireworks began... it was incredible. There are a few video clips in the embedded IG post, below.
Queue the dramatic music... I'm not sure what it was, possibly the Spanish national anthem, or maybe an important Valencian piece. It was dramatic with the flames, pieces falling off, everything...
We were probably 100' from the inferno -- and I mean inferno. We all had to vacate the balcony, and I thought my forehead was going to have blisters.
The clean-up crew was standing by. Katie & I were walking down there the next day and you would never have known that a 9-story tall lady statue burned there the night before.
Every neighborhood had a mess to clean up! And they did. It was just one more amazing part of this whole mind-blowing thing we witnessed.
I think that's as good as it's going to get. There might be one more quick post about Valencia... stay tuned!
Hola!! Popping in to say that all is well, we're having an amazing time! Off to Cornwall tomorrow for a few days before returning home on Monday (I'm pretty sure... the days are getting fuzzy).
I have managed, by pure luck, to unintentionally knock a few things off my bucket list here... such as, I never have to see another fireworks display in my life (if I don't want to), because nothing is going to top what I have seen (heard & felt) here!
There are some posts on Insta & FB... I am never going to be able to share it all!!
Anyway, I can't let my 15th Blogiversary/1st Day of Spring pass without a post, also a quick mention of the 14th anniversary of The Quit a few days ago.
The crescendo of Las Fallas happened last night with fireworks/mascleta and the burning of this nearly 9-stories tall falle. We had a balcony view and I am pretty sure my face would have melted off if we'd stayed out there the entire time. It was flipping amazing!!
Thanks for reading and for your comments and for coming along on these crazy trips of all sorts, whether in Spain or my own back yard! xo
We got a pretty early start... because it's a long drive (7+/- hours) and we had another art stop in Chicago. A bridge was closed, so we were detoured north out of St. Louis... advantage being a new view! (Bissinger's, by the way, is a chocolatier. Mmm.)
The weather was being rather dramatic right off the bat.
Our first stop in Chicago, though, was for food!
And it was a very good idea! The tacos were delicious... I had asada and pollo. And chips & salsa. And a beer.
A visit with Aviv Benn at Devening Projects+Editions.
I met Aviv last year at her MFA Show in Chicago... a trip that I must not have blogged about! Kate's July 2017 youngspace interview with Aviv Benn.
We also popped in to see Volker Saul's work and I kept being drawn to this one... with thoughts turning to sewing and Alabama Chanin.
The weather turned to crap (-pier) on the way home from Chicago. I thought I had the worst of it in southern Wisconsin, but then Kate took the wheel around Fond du Lac and it became crappiest -- wet slushy snow, not made any better by stupid drivers (of big trucks).
We ditched the freeway on the last leg home. At least downtown Appleton looked sort of pretty. We followed a snowplow for the last stretch. Needless to say, it was great to arrive home!
We had a leisurely start on Friday morning, then head out for a bite to eat before our museum stops. A friend of Kate's had suggested Cafe Osage at Bowood, so that's where we went. What a wonderful place! Very open and light, with huge windows... We both remarked that it was my mother's kind of place -- she'd have loved it -- and noted that 90% of the clientele reminded us of her, too! Nana-types!
We had to have a beverage with breakfast/more like brunch, so it might as well be something fun! I chose "Cherub's Cup" (north shore #6 gin, st. germain liqueur, adami prosecco, strawberry simple syrup) and Kate had "Rosey Bee" (barr hill raw honey infused gin, rose liqueur, rose geranium, lemon). We shared a plate of Roasted Cauliflower (pickled grapes, tahini, breadcrumb) because how could we not?? Kate had Poached Eggs with Lox and I had the Artichoke Omelet. It was all so good!!
Kate overheard a woman at the next table giving the waitress what-for about a few things, including that the music was overpowering. Feedback is great and everyone has their opinion, but the music was NOT overpowering and everything was wonderful -- and I felt bad for our waitress. When she brought our check, I made it a point to tell her that everything was perfect -- the drinks, the food, the service, and the music! She laughed and it was as if I could see the earlier unwarranted criticism falling from her shoulders. It made my day, and I hope it made hers a little better, too.
Anyway, the Bowood Garden/Home/Gift shop that Cafe Osage is a part of was so fun, and there was a special Holiday Shop open in a building across the street, too. So we did a little poking around and shopping.
Then it was off to the main event. Ruth Asawa: Life's Work at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. I think the Pulitzer is one of my favorite places ever. The exhibit is breathtaking and, without apology, I'm going to post a ton of photos because it's all just so fascinating and mesmerizing... each individual piece, each part of each piece, the pieces as they hang together and relate to each other, apart and layered, the spaces, the shadows... It's ethereal and indescribable and... just so beautiful.
And still fascinating.
I just couldn't get enough.
I want to live there.
This lovely children's book, Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life, was waiting when we got home and I can't wait to read it to the kiddos!
We caught our breath and walked next door to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Sanford Biggers, Shepherd, 2016; glitter, tar, acrylic, spray paint, assorted textiles, antique quilts
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled panel, 1980; oilstick, graphite pencil, latex on board
It was a bit early for dinner, but not enough time to go back to the house, so we went to Sophie's Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club, located at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.
And we had some more delightful drinks! This was a combo of gin, thyme liqueur, basil simple syrup, and cava -- it was the thyme & basil components + plus the sparkling wine that I found irresistible! Cheers!!
For dinner, we went to the brand new Grand Tavern by David Burke in the Angad Arts Hotel, and that was another incredible meal! We shared some emotional lobster dumplings, and then Kate had black linguine with clam sauce and I had branzino (with artichoke hummus, black olive, vegetable vinaigrette). Two Nana-types at the neighboring table (a mother & daughter, actually) had couch potatoes and clothesline bacon, and offered a piece of the bacon to us (they were big pieces and super-thick). The bacon is actually served on a little "clothesline," held with clothespins, and caramelized with a little torch right at the table. Yeah. It was crazy (and good -- it can be crazy if it's good)!! Oh, and we had some flame action at our table with an old-school baked alaska for dessert.
Then it was across the street to the Fabulous Fox and the Hip Hop Nutcracker... and you know the rest of that story!
Meet me in St. Louis! << Wouldn't that be fun??
Kate & I are headed south this evening, with an overnight at an as-yet undetermined location in Illinois. We've tended to do St. Louis in whirlwind fashion and this trip will be no exception, as we'll be back home by Saturday.
The main reason for the trip is Ruth Asawa: Life's Work at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. I've been interested in Ruth Asawa's work because:
Kate's familiar because her Master's thesis at Edinburgh was about Black Mountain College, where Ruth Asawa lived/worked/studied with the likes of Josef Albers (another favorite) and Buckminster Fuller for a few years.
I mean... REALLY!
It's just amazing. I'm very excited to see much, much more of her work. And since we won't likely meet in St. Louis and enjoy this show together, here is a pretty cool link to View an Asawa Installation at ruthasawa.com (and a million other fascinating things to click on there).
We will also visit the St. Louis Art Museum to see Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis, and have tickets to The Hip Hop Nutcracker, and hope to get over to see the Christmas display at Anheuser-Busch (which is walking distance from our Airbnb, so very likely!). It would be interesting to see how the holiday display at the Botanical Garden has changed from last year, and it would be great to catch some jazz/blues somewhere... we'll see. Whirlwind.
_ _ _ _ _
I can't let this day pass, it seems, without acknowledging this accomplishment...
Happy EIGHTH Birthday, Parcheesi! You're still my favorite project, and still looking beautiful.
I drove down to O'Hare on Saturday to pick up Kate after her month in the U.K. We decided to stay overnight and chose the new (as in barely open a week) St. Jane for our accommodations. Formerly the Hard Rock Hotel, St. Jane is in Chicago's beautiful Carbide & Carbon Building and is named for Jane Addams.
Instead of a bible in every room, it was a biography!
The weather was fabulous and it was great to be outside!
We had a light lunch at the Purple Pig (of course) and dinner at Catch 35 (first time). I had those gorgeous scallops and Kate had a mixed grill.
We tried to get to a couple of (way up there) roof-top bars but most were busy with private events until late; we settled for a lower-level roof-topper with exorbitantly priced pre-mixed cocktails (which we didn't know were pre-mixed until they were poured). They looked & tasted pretty good but should have been half the price (and my glass should have been all the way full instead of 2/3, too... what's that all about?). /gripe
I had a great time with my girl!
We got up, had coffee and shared a blueberry muffin, and then head home. We were on the road by 10 and home before 2.
The girls came over for a little while, and everyone else came later for supper. It was a nice evening together!
Katie went to bed fairly early and I wound down with a couple of episodes of Anne with an E (I started on Friday and am bingeing hard -- love this show) and my TTL Mystery Shawl.
The photo is from Friday night, having barely begun Clue 2; as of last night, the first of two very enjoyable repeats is finished... and Clue 3 awaits!
I'm looking forward to next weekend already!
No, not for me... I have nothing even close to firm on the calendar until October, and then another possible trip way off in March (though, obvs, I am always up for a spontaneous trip to almost anywhere).
I am travel planning for/with Kate... while she's in the Scottish Highlands and I'm planted in Wisconsin!
She sent me a message yesterday to tell me that she'd arrived at her Highlands destination, and about some great gin that she found (the message also serving as a reminder for her future self about said gin).
We chatted about the weather, how long she'd be there, and what she'd be doing; one thing on the list was finding a distillery tour, specifically gin. She'd told me that it was Misty Isle Gin that she'd been sipping and, following a quick search, I informed her that it was from Isle of Skye Distillers... right where she just happened to be for a few days.
Another quick search led me to discover the Skye Food and Drink Festival, happening this Wednesday & Thursday, and...
What are the odds?? Minutes later, she was signed up for the GIN COCKTAIL MASTERCLASS! The entire list of exhibitors & events at that festival looks so fun!
I also found a not-too-far-away Gin, Rum, and Cocktail Festival on the weekend (and plenty more, actually), but I'm not exactly sure where she's headed after this.
Anyway, I told her that I NEED TO BE A TRAVEL CONSULTANT... ON-THE-FLY, EVEN! REAL-TIME UPDATES!! haha.
Seriously. I love this stuff.
It's the beauty of making "a plan," but not a hard & fast schedule... flexibility & openness... POSSIBILITIES!! That's not how some people like to travel, I know, and there are many reasons for that, but there are a million "tours" that cater to "tourists."
I want EXPERIENCES... or to help people (my daughter) find them. And when she comes home, she can mix up a killer "masterclass" gin cocktail to thank me!
...so you don't have to!! I trust that Bonny heeded my warning and had a smoother beginning to her travels today!
Thursday morning, Rusty sits straight up in bed next to me and declares, "SHIT! IT'S 5:15!!"
Here's the scenario:
- My flight departed Green Bay at 5:55
- My alarm was set for 3:30
- It's a 30-minute drive
- I needed to shower
- And finish (most of) my packing
- Obviously, I made the rookiest of rookie mistakes and didn't verify that the alarm was set for AM instead of PM!
"WE CAN MAKE IT!!" he says.
Um. Suurrrrrre... even if I skipped brushing my teeth and jumped in the car wearing my PJs, we'd maybe see the plane fly over our heads at best!
A bit less starry-eyed, I grabbed my phone, sat down at my computer, and called United. It was slightly maddening to listen to the very calm voice while navigating the menu, and I was relieved when it didn't take too long to speak with a real person. And they were SO helpful, rebooking me on later flights -- at no charge (just this one time...) -- essentially, I was on about a 3-hour delay. Instead of arriving NYC at noon, I arrived around 3:30. Kate had commitments at that time and wasn't able to pick me up, we weren't able to have lunch, and I wasn't able to a couple of things on my list (visit the botanical garden and/or Museum of Food and Drink)... but OMG, it could have been so much worse!
I took a taxi over to Brooklyn to the warehouse where Kate would be installing her show. The actual space (on the 2nd floor) wasn't available yet, so everything was being stored in a studio space on the 4th floor.
It was hot. Somewhat drippy. Sticky. No AC. No elevator. Ugh.
Prior to my arrival, Kate had been staying in Brooklyn, but we'd booked a hotel in Manhattan for the rest of the time -- until my departure on Sunday, and hers on Monday. She kept her car in Brooklyn, though (free, on-street parking wherever it could be found) and we mostly took the subway back and forth.
Luckily, the weather improved -- at least in terms of drippiness.
On Friday, Kate was able to get into the venue space in Brooklyn to set up and hang the show. I hopped in the car and drove over to Jersey to visit with Cara! We had a wonderful afternoon, talking about knitting (that AMAZING brioche shawl that she's designing/making), family & friends. We had lunch, made a stop at Yarnia, and picked up C from school (M had after-school activities). The school year is drawing to a close, so things are starting to trickle home... I had a delightful private viewing of all of C's 2nd-grade artwork!
I drove back to Brooklyn, arriving just in time to watch Kate hang the last pieces. The room had this great floor-to-ceiling window that looked out on some backyards. If you look, you can see a couple on the right hanging out and trying to catch a breeze... I didn't realize until later, when I saw the guy go back into the house, that he'd been standing there in his underwear! Haha. Whatever it takes... Lucky for Kate, the venue had AC!!
On Saturday, I had a lovely (if sweltering) morning walk through Central Park (which, despite a few visits to NYC, I'd never set foot in before!) on my way to meet MDK Kay for a breakfast date! She brought some of her Alabama Chanin Flag Quilt to show off -- utterly amazing -- and it was so cool to see my Wisconsin Blingfish nestled and sewn into its stripe. The quilt's been shining on Kay's IG feed lately, though Shakerag (the top)/Shakerag (the workshop) will soon be taking over, no doubt. After breakfast and show & tell, Kay walked me over to her LYS, Knitty City.
I walked through the park on the way back, too, and found Balto (along with some kids & their parents)!
I cooled off at the hotel for a while before heading over to Brooklyn again, where I sat with Kate at the show (always cooling off). Then I walked over to Brooklyn Craft Company, and from there I grabbed a Lyft to Brooklyn General Store -- two shops on my list. They were pretty different -- BCC is newer and smaller, BGS a bit larger and with much more inventory, and also happened to be celebrating their 16-year anniversary on that very day. I found out later that I narrowly missed a run-in with Kirsten Kapur there! (New TTL Mystery Shawl set to drop in a couple of weeks... I'm desperate for my arm to feel better!!)
With all these shop stops, I came home with much more yarn than I needed (pfffft), but also some fabric to share with Ali and this adorable Merchant & Mills girl's dress pattern (BGS had a sample and I couldn't resist!)!
Kate was in Brooklyn 'til late on Saturday, celebrating art & artists & CONVEYOR's huge success, so I had a lovely dinner on my own at our hotel. I spent the evening in, finally casting on my first WATER hat (current donation total = $6000 + counting)!
I went out for coffee on Sunday morning and found the street closed in front of our hotel, along with a couple of others, and police everywhere. The Celebrate Israel Parade was happening that morning on Fifth Avenue, and security was high -- including bomb-sniffing dogs and sharpshooters. There hadn't been any specific threats... I can't imagine if there had been! I left a little earlier than usual to get to the airport.
I had enough time in Chicago (especially since the flight arrived :30 ahead of schedule) to finally use one of my (unexpired) passes to United Club Lounge. Oh, hell yeah.
It never gets old!
We had pretty great flyover on the approach into GRB... couldn't help thinking that Randall Cobb 🏈 on board had an influence on the pilot! 😉 RC was actually on the other side of the plane so wouldn't have even seen this amazing view. That's Mecca of the NFL... er, Lambeau Field on the left and the new Titletown development extending to the right (there is much more to come).
Despite the heat, it was such a fun trip!! It was so great to visit new places (Brooklyn, Central Park) and long-time friends.
For over a year, I waited -- anticipated -- attending the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop in November. I'd signed up almost immediately when it was announced, and it wasn't long before Kym decided to join me.
We met at the airport in Nashville and drove to Florence, AL, home of Alabama Chanin.
We settled into our comfy Airbnb, found a place for dinner, and awaited Workshop Day #1.
It was pretty great. Each of the participants (9 of us) had our own work table with basic supplies and materials. The clothing racks beyond held simple, unembellished examples of every DIY garment in every size for trying on. I was a bit smitten with the collection of chairs -- those shown here, as well as throughout The Factory & Cafe -- as I've been something of a collector myself (to the point that Rusty called a moratorium on chairs some years ago)!
In addition, there were other garment racks, which I've shown before, that held embellished pieces in various colors & designs, which we could also try on.
"The Factory" is just that. Located in a large factory/warehouse type building, one very large space is divvied up with partial walls/partitions and curtains into spaces for retail, cafe, office, shipping, social media, design, fabric handling, stenciling, cutting, sewing, production, etc. Pretty much everyone, perhaps with the exception of some cafe staff, is at least knowledgeable -- but most likely has also performed -- every process/task/job within the company. It's pretty incredible, really. Natalie Chanin has employed some of the principles of Zingerman's Community of Businesses in the development of her own Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses, which include The School of Making, The Factory Cafe and Store, and Bldg. 14.
I could go to work in that factory everyday!
On that first day, we went over design possibilities, toured the factory, tried on garments, pored over swatch books, and each made decisions about the garment we wanted to make.
We also had lunch at the Factory Cafe.
I just had to have a Pimento Cheese sandwich!
And then I took about a million pictures of the June's Spring section of the swatch books!
Those are all the same design, worked in different colors and in different/similar ways... all serving to blow my mind!
And then I took about a million more pictures of the exact same thing.
And also the next day. And again the day after that.
I could have spent three full days just looking at those swatch books, to be honest.
I mean, look at that!!
With our orders being processed, we had a little free time before meeting up with the other participants for a local tour and dinner. Kym and I decided we had just enough time to dash out for a visit to The Wall, aka, Tom Hendrix's Wall, aka Te-lah-nay's Wall.
It's an incredible place, with an incredible story.
Peaceful, beautiful, contemplative, surprising.
We could have spent a lot more time there, too, but I'm thankful we were able to find the time to visit at all. We went back to Florence and met our group at The Shoals Gold Record Room to board a trolley and go on a Swampette Tour of FAME and Muscle Shoals studios.
I had been looking forward to that for a while, having even made a special playlist way back in August, and it was truly fantastic -- everyone enjoyed it and most weren't music nerds! Our tour guide was Judy Hood, a Swampette by virtue of having married one David Hood, bass player and original member of The Swampers, and true enthusiast of music*, the history of the music and these studios in The Shoals, community, preservation, and more. She was a delight!
Workshop Days 2 & 3 were spent exploring and learning more about garment construction and techniques. We had some lovely meals at The Factory Cafe (breakfast+lunch, brunch), and met Natalie; we had front-row seats at a talk/presentation she gave about the company's history. Everyone we met during the workshop was really wonderful -- Olivia, Maggie, Erin, Corey, Leslie, Bonnie, Diane (to name a few). Oh, to return someday... I still dream about the week-long workshops (either one, or both)!
On Sunday, Kym & I drove back to Nashville and another lovely Airbnb, first stopping to take photos of a cotton field. I had never seen anything like it before, though, if you cover the bottom part of that photo with your hand, it looks an awful lot like the snow-covered farm fields with which I am familiar!
We stopped at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens on the way for a much-needed walk & nature break, and it was simply gorgeous.
I was more than a little intrigued by at least parts of these pique assiette mosaic pieces (the term for which I learned just now -- who knew?).
It was certainly not the most beautiful time of year to visit a garden, but it was far from ugly; I don't think there's ever an "ugly" season in a well-designed garden. They were just beginning to ready their holiday displays, so we even got a little peek at some of the lighted garden features (which were pretty cool even in afternoon light).
I winged my way home and have barely had a chance to catch my breath since... Ali's shop remodel started the very next day, I'm trying to help with the kids as much as I can, Thanksgiving came & went, there was an ill-timed but previously planned (and much enjoyed) trip to Saint Louis, holiday party season is upon us, and Christmas is... what? 18 days away? Will I get my tree up???
I truly enjoyed every minute of that trip. I caught my breath only once at the beginning, when I realized that I'd be spending nearly a week with a woman that I'd previously met for lunch and a beer and to look at some art for a couple of hours, but we couldn't have gotten along better, and it was fun getting to know more about each other.
I've barely had time to even look at my Car Jacket project... ideas are percolating, and it'll be there when I'm ready!
*except rap. She told us that Dr. Dre/Beats Electronics is a supporter of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and that, as a grateful member of the board, she supposed she should learn to like it! More than a few of us suggested that Hamilton would be a good place to start! ;)
The wind & rain was hard enough to wake me up on Saturday night, even before the front screen door got caught and started banging! Sunday morning dawned lovely & bright, though.
We began with leisurely coffee & breakfast, then cleaning & packing up for the trip home.
After all of my whirlwind travel this year -- especially the dashing through Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Saint Louis -- Annie says that perhaps I should consider adding a day to all of my future travel plans.
I didn't take that advice for this little jaunt, but that's exactly why we only went to the U.P.!
We checked out right on time and headed over to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the 7-mile Marshland Wildlife Drive. Yes! I spotted the eagle nest (but not eagles). It was so beautiful and quiet... except for the trumpeting swans and whatnot. We spotted a few swan families -- the young swans almost as big as their parents, but still unmistakably gray.
From there, we drove toward Manistique and Kitch-iti-kipi (The Big Spring), and was that ever worth the price of admission (even Rusty agreed)! I am sure that this would have been incredible even in the rain, but I'm so glad that it was sunny & bright!
We're waiting for the self-operated observation raft to return, top, and Rusty's straight across (in pink) peering through the middle of the boat during our voyage, above.
He's looking at something like this! Those are all fish... and their shadows. If you look closely, you can see some circular patterns in the sandy bottom and those are where the water that feeds this spring bubbles through -- at the rate of 10,000 gallons per minute! It was mesmerizing. All of it.
The water is super-clear! And chilly!
Twice, I heard a fish jump, and was then even more mesmerized by the "waves of light" left by the ripples as they moved across the water, the shadows crawling across the sandy bottom; I barely captured it in this photo (dumbstruck, I was)!
We drove down to Garden in the Garden Peninsula, had lunch overlooking the bay, and then hit the road for home in earnest. We arrived at around 4:30 -- in time to sit down and enjoy the second half of the Packer game with Kate (we won, yahoo!).
It was a damp & drippy on Saturday morning. We'd planned to visit Tahquamenon Falls, and figured that a waterfall would be pretty even in the rain... and, since it was raining, thought we might practically have the place to ourselves.
Hahaha. Well, we got the first part right, though the rain let up and it was barely a mist by the time we arrived... to find a nearly full parking lot!!
That's the Upper Falls -- one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It is beautiful beyond words!
We drove up to the Lower Falls and took a quick look... while also incredibly beautiful, there was a bit of a hike to get a really good look... but mostly there were people! Instead, we decided to visit Whitefish Point; Rusty was intrigued after seeing a billboard!
But first, a quick little lunch at the park concession stand.
My share of a dish of "Michigan Pothole" ice cream for dessert!
A drippy drive.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point Light Station are located at Whitefish Point.
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her
I was in high school about 30 miles south of Lake Superior in 1975, and the wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald was huge news.
While Rusty took a blustery hike around the Point...
I worked on a new hat for Gin that I'd cast on over morning coffee.
We re-traced our steps through Tahquamenon on our return, and decided to check out one of the hiking paths. It was a short, squishy little hike and we didn't go very far, but I found so many mushrooms!
I'd recently gone to a presentation about mushrooms at our local nature center, so it was really fun to spot some that we'd talked about! Nature is cool.
On the way back to our place, we drove by a derelict motel and were intrigued enough to make a u-turn in order to investigate more.
This, one of many roadside motels that we passed by, reminded us of a storybook cottage/village. Unfortunately, most are in a similar state, though I'd argue that this one holds some treasures within. It was as if time stood still... someone turned that sign to "CLOSED" one day, and never looked back (though I think they might still live next door). Recession, astronomical gas prices, changes in the way people spend their vacation time... whatever the reason they closed in the first place (and not terribly long ago, as all of the little cottages had satellite dishes affixed), the weather is definitely taking it's toll now.
We returned to our little cottage long enough to wipe a little of the mud off of ourselves and watch a bit of sunset before heading out for dinner. We went just a few miles up the road to Chamberlin's Ole Forest Inn -- where we didn't have a reservation because, I don't know... we seriously underestimated the goings-on of October in the U.P.! It was only a half-hour wait, and a gorgeous evening to sit on the porch with a cocktail. Rusty enjoyed stuffed whitefish and I had the most delectable pan-fried bluegill. It was cozy & charming!
Stay tuned for Day 2!
Rusty & I skipped town just as soon as we were able on Friday, headed north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a quick weekend getaway.
We stayed in a little cottage at Lakeshore Resort on South Manistique Lake that I'd found on Airbnb. After stopping for dinner and crossing from Central to Eastern time, we didn't arrive until about 11pm... unpacked and went to bed, set for a full day ahead!
It stormed on both Friday & Saturday nights, and was rainy & wet on Saturday, but we managed to do the things & go the places we'd wanted (and then some), and the colors were beautiful! I brought along this pair of Merrell clogs that Ann had given me when she moved to Spain. I'd never worn them and almost gave them back to her over the summer, but I'm so glad I didn't! They were perfect for some of the "squish" hiking we did, but comfy & cute, too; that's always where I'm at in regards to shoes, no matter the occasion! ;)
I'll be back with more -- details & photos (so many photos)! I hope you had a great weekend!
It was two weeks ago today that we high-tailed it down to St. Louis, so it's about time to wrap up the travelogue!
It was Sunday morning and we took a last walk down to the Arch.
Then we checked out of our hotel and made our way to the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM). "Dedicated to Art and Free to All."
Kate was interested in taking in the contemporary art collection but we'd also been given tickets to the special exhibition, Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015... and we managed to do both. I'll let the photos do most of the talking... it all sort of blew me away!
I'm pretty sure my brother had this shirt.
Amazing Zoot suit!
Unisex Caftan, 1970, designed by Rudi Gernreich
The fabrics and colors were amazing!
These are tiny samples of wool knit bathing suit designs!
I don't know why, but I've a soft spot for the Pearly Kings & Queens!
The contemporary art was also amazing...
White Combustion, 1960, Alberto Burri
And then we turned the car for home. It was another fun, whirlwind trip... and I sure do hope to get back there someday!
I will leave you with this:
And a wish for a fabulous weekend! You're welcome. :)
We arrived in St. Louis late Saturday morning, and our first stop was for food!
We landed at The Urban Chestnut (midtown), so also had to have a beer(s)! It was pretty quiet when we arrived, but then a group of bicyclists rode in and between-time wedding guests (we decided) walked over from a nearby church. The food menu was sparse but excellent, and the beer selection was pretty great too!
Next stop was Bellefontaine Cemetery. I've been wanting to visit that cemetery for a dozen years or more... and I will need to go back. Our purpose this time was to visit the family plot where some of Rusty's & the kids' ancestors & relation are buried. He visited many years ago and brought back photos and rubbings and a drawing of the plot, but I've wanted to visit in person ever since!
The plot is oval (as many in the cemetery are) and the graves are arranged in within the oval, headstones all facing toward the center. The tall monument is for one Wilson McGunnegle, Rusty's great great uncle.
There are numerous familial military ties. Wilson was a Lieutenant in the Navy (beautiful nautical motifs decorate his monument at Bellefontaine); his son, Col. George K. McGunnegle (of course!) was an Infantryman; his sister Clara was wife of Brigadier General John Wynn "Black Jack" Davidson, both originally interred at Bellefontaine and later moved to Arlington National Cemetery.
It's all so interesting!!
The next stop was to pick up artwork -- the impetus for the trip in the first place -- but Kate swung by and dropped me at KNITORIOUS first!
This place has also been on my list since practically forever! It wasn't long after I began this blog that I came to know Sandy. She opened a yarn shop in St. Louis and I began blogging about knitting from NE Wisconsin, both in 2004, and we both called our ventures KNITORIOUS! We've been in touch on and off ever since -- giggling over things like a Target commercial (below, from 2010, notably at the :23 mark).
She's long known of my desire to visit, and it was such a treat to finally get there!
The space is truly wonderful -- open, well lit, and so much room! A dedicated classroom area (above), a more informal area with comfy seating beyond the magazine racks (below), not to mention a third table space near the front door, quite full of knitters while I was there!
A visit with Sandy -- on my list since 2004!
The yarn selection is lovely -- terrific product lines and plenty in stock.
I bought some Loft, which I've never used before (in truth, it's my first Brooklyn Tweed yarn of any type!), to make a Seeds Hat or two.
But this... KNITORIOUS Yarn!
Beautiful, rare natural colors of undyed Merino wool from Missouri's own Genopalette. It's all fingering weight, the three above and the marled are 100% merino, the white at bottom left has some silk. It's really terrific and I can't wait to knit with it!
Big whoop-de-doers that we are, our night life consisted of a walk to the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch, dinner at nearby Caleco's Bar & Grill, watching Cardinals fans, tuning into the NFL Network from our hotel to catch a little Packers preseason football, and lights-out at 9:30pm... we were both SO TIRED!! So catching some actual nightlife & music is another good reason for returning to St. Louis!
We managed one more pretty sweet stop on Sunday morning before heading home... I'll share all about that sometime over the weekend or early next week. I have a few "chores" over the weekend, but it's mainly shaping up to be pretty quiet. Sweet!! I hope the same for you!
Last weekend's spontaneous trip to St. Louis, MO, with Kate helps the checking off of a larger "bucket list" item of mine, and that is to visit as an adult all the cities that I lived in as a child. The list also includes:
- Milwaukee, WI (check)
- Escanaba, MI (check)
- Denver, CO
- Toledo/Columbus/Cleveland, OH
- Toronto, ON
- Chicago/Highland Park, IL (check)
We were fully prepared to depart when I finished work at 5pm on Friday, but I was lucky enough to get off at 1 instead. Kate had an after-5 appointment to deliver some artwork in Madison, giving us time to detour to Milwaukee for a stop at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Seriously, is that not one of the most beautiful structures in the world? Even the lower-level parking is striking. Someday, I'm going to camp out and watch the "wings" open/close.
The main reason for our stop was the exhibition Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy
We were not there at a time when we could hear Antoine's Organ "come alive," but alive it was... relevant.
We had time to swing through a couple of other areas.
Refrigerator Pies, 1962, Wayne Thiebaud
Bluffs, 2009, Tara Donovan, buttons and glue (!!!)
Modernity Circa 1952, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2004, Josiah McElheny
From there we drove to Madison, where Kate made her delivery, and we had dinner.
Then we hit the road for St. Louis... we didn't make it that far on Friday night, though, construction & traffic making for angsty driving. We stopped overnight near Oglesby, IL, and set the alarm clock for an early start on Saturday!
To be continued, as usual... we packed a whole lot into just a couple of days!! :)
Especially with timing & the connections we wanted to make early in the trip -- Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona -- the goal was to pack for a week abroad in ONE CARRY-ON SUITCASE + ONE PERSONAL ITEM (allowances of the airline). A new personal best!!
I used a hard-sided suitcase that fit the measurement requirements (21.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches) and a large imitation leather tote. The tote had both hand/shoulder straps and a cross-body strap -- I need options with a bag like that! It had one large zip pocket on one side, which was perfect for my wallet, and two smaller zip pockets on the other side, one of which worked well for my glasses case, and the other... keys & things that I needed to have with me but wouldn't be using while away.
Knowing that I wouldn't be able to carry that large tote everywhere/everyday, I packed my new Baggallini Medium Avenue Tote inside the suitcase. It folded nice & flat and took up practically no space at all. The only downside to this (and mostly because of our nuts-o itinerary) was that I kept having to switching stuff between bags, which wasn't difficult, just a lot of back & forth sometimes.
I had also ordered a Baggallini Everywhere Bagg, but ended up returning it; even though I really loved the idea of the zipper that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase, I did not love the bag itself. I do, however, LOVE the Medium Avenue Tote and have since ordered the larger version (which has that luggage zipper thing) and think the two will make a great travel combo in the future. I've actually been using the Medium Avenue Tote as my regular purse since we returned.
Inside the carry-on tote:
- A couple of small knitting projects (never used)
- A tablet & headset (never used)
- Cell phone, earbuds, charger
- Travel dossier
- Ibuprofen, kleenex, hairbands
I knew comfort & layers would be important. The shirt is one of my favorites, a lightweight, long (& longer in the back) knit top that I've had for a year or so. Scratchy tags drive me nuts, so I have no idea who made it. The pants are a heavy-weight knit from J. Jill that I've also had for a while; they are longer than they look -- about ankle length -- they hold up well and keep their shape. The long sweater is also from J. Jill, purchased earlier this year when we went to Florida; it is a lightweight knit with pockets and a hood. I don't usually like hoods, but this is so lightweight that it's barely there -- and, it came in handy to pull that extra fabric up around my neck (airplanes can be cold!) (I used the shawl, too!).
The other "bottoms" in my suitcase were a pair of J. Jill medium-weight knit capris, a pair of Eileen Fisher knit capris, and an Eileen Fisher skirt. I have quite a few pairs of the J. Jill capris and consider them my go-to at home/work in the summertime. They were a little heavy for the weather we experienced, as they don't really breathe very well. The Eileen Fisher pieces were definitely purchased on sale, and have been in my closet for at least a year or two. I never actually wore those EF capris out of the house before, but I loved them on this trip and wore them most; they were the lightest weight of all (though not "lightweight") -- and it was HOT in Spain!! The EF skirt is made of the same material as the capris, and has a little shape to it at the bottom; I wore it once, with my new Alabama Chanin tunic.
What is definitely on my wish list for my next warm-weather trip are some lightweight "hiking" pants/capris!
A note here about PACKING CUBES!
Maddy raved about packing cubes last summer, as she was perfecting her "packing for 9 months in a backpack" technique, and I immediately ordered an Amazon Basics 4-Piece Set for myself. I've used them a few times now and pack socks & unders in the small one; layer & roll up 2-3 items at a time -- tops/sweaters & pants/skirts/dresses -- in the medium sizes; and have not actually used the largest one yet (it is pretty big). Rolling instead of folding allows SO much more to be packed and, I think, reduces wrinkles by quite a lot. The packing cubes keep like items together and a bit more organized. I even used them for our quick weekend at the Flowage; stuff doesn't end up in a jumble!
I brought one dress. This was a fairly recent purchase from J. Jill, and it added some color to my otherwise (you may have noticed) very black wardrobe! I wore this dress once, on Saturday/Beach Day with (at times) the long hooded sweater; I love this dress. I brought a couple pairs of "slip shorts" along, my favorite being this pair by Maidenform (not really "shapewear" at all), as I find it makes wearing a dress/skirt much more comfortable -- especially in the heat.
Tops I wore:
Top to bottom:
- Eileen Fisher Knit Boatneck
- J. Jill Tencil Top
- J. Jill Short Sleeve (worn with a black knit cami, not shown)
- Target/Merona Knit V-Neck (still black/neutral, but pattern!)
- Alabama Chanin A-line Magdalena Tunic
- J. Jill Cotton 3/4-sleeve Mesh-knit Sweater
Except for the sweater, which I wore a few times, and the AC tunic, which I wore twice, I think I wore each of these once. I'm glad I brought a mix of sleeveless & short sleeves and different necklines, as there was a lot of time in the sun and it was nice to be able to cover up a bit.
Tops I brought but didn't wear:
Top to bottom:
- J. Jill Linen Tunic
- Alabama Chanin-esque Polka-dot Boatneck
- Old Navy V-Neck
I really wanted to wear that tunic, and even put it on one morning, but I already had a sunburn and it was too rough against my skin! I love the other two tops, but realize that I prefer to wear them with more structured (woven) pants or jeans, which I did not have. I'd also packed a white knit cami... but why? White with all this black? Needless to say, I never wore that either.
I wore my tennies while traveling, as they were the bulkiest; I also brought along two three pairs of sandals. Footwear is tough, especially since I have a tendency to swell when flying. We walked so much, and I definitely wore the tennies most; I wasn't able to wear one pair of sandals due to swelling, was happy to have the other two to switch between.
I stripped my toiletries case to the bare minimum for travel, and so it remains! It "helped" to have a separate bag for the liquids & pastes, and the rest of it fit into a regular size makeup bag.
In addition to everything else, don't forget that I had a box of graham crackers and a box of cheez-its in my suitcase! That actually left a nice space, when we returned, to pack the few items I bought.
I have a few of these Brazilian Canga towels -- they are very lightweight and fold/wad up nicely. I brought this one along and it came in very handy at the beach, both for sitting upon and as a sun block.
Ann & Brian had a washer at their apartment and the girls & I did a collective load of laundry there. That wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was nice. As mentioned, it was HOT, and it was nice to freshen things up a bit!
I briefly considered bringing my big camera, but ended up leaving it at home... and I'm so glad I did. While there were some pretty amazing photo ops, it's just too big and heavy to lug around on a trip like this. Thankfully, my phone does a decent job (Samsung Galaxy S7).
That's it, I think! I hope that helps those of you who are interested and have baggage-limited trips of your own coming up! I'm happy to elaborate or clarify or answer any questions you might have.
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
I left Green Bay on Tuesday - Fat Tuesday - bound for New Orleans, with a stop in Chicago. It was very foggy in Green Bay and there was a lot of turbulence on the first leg of my trip. (I learned that later flights from Green Bay that day had been cancelled.) I don't know if the pilots tried to get around it, or what, but we ended up arriving at O'Hare 15 minutes late and I had less than an hour to make my connection to begin with -- others had even less time. Anyway, I wasn't the only one sprinting through the airport -- luckily, the shuttle was perfectly timed -- and I made it! The waiting area was empty, the sign said "final boarding," and I was the last one to get on the plane. Whew!
I arrived in New Orleans at around 3 p.m. and took a cab from the airport to Ann's Airbnb in the Warehouse District. It was too late to see any parades, though I did see some floats on the freeway (with people still on board) from the taxi. I had a few minutes to kill before Annie could leave her conference, so found a nice place nearby and sat down for a beer. It was 80F outside, so a little sit down with cold refreshment was quite welcome.
Back at the Airbnb, we put our feet up for a few minutes and contemplated options for dinner. We ended up at Restaurant August, on the recommendation of one of Ann's friends. It was a lovely dinner in a beautiful space. We (and everyone who dined there that evening) were served a special dish to welcome us -- the most unusual and amazing brown butter custard, topped with cauliflower puree, with a crispy/roasted bit of cauliflower on top of that, all served in an eggshell and presented in an egg cup. It was just a spoonful or two or three, and so unusual not to mention delicious. Ann & I split a hot appetizer on the recommendation of our waiter (we'd been considering only cold options) - potato gnocchi with blue crab, black truffle & parmesan (turns out, I like truffles just not truffle oil) (same thing with almonds vs. almond extract); our entrees were "breaded" flounder with wild mushrooms, shrimp & crab fat, and roasted Mangrove snapper with tasso crab rice & pepper roasted oyster; for dessert we split grapefruit Pavolva with pistachio meringues, local honey (from an apiary on the "north shore" -- of what, I asked -- of Lake Pontchartrain), and rosemary ice cream. Oh, and cocktails! Mine was The Girl from Ipanema (cachaca, oolong tea, lemon, vanilla & sparkling wine) and Ann's was La Pasion Caliente (Cabeza tequila, lime, cilantro, jalapeno & passionfruit). That's a meal to remember!
And then... BOURBON STREET!! I don't have a lot to say about that -- it was crazy, packed, and fun. Not my normal kind of scene but, you know, when in Rome... or New Orleans!
Ann still had a conference day on Wednesday, so I had the day to myself... and a plan.
Seriously, the internet -- whether a blog or Facebook or Instagram -- is just the best thing these days when a person is traveling and looking for recommendations. I was not disappointed -- Stein's was amazing. I took a number of panoramic photos on the trip, and this was the first from my seat at Stein's, awaiting my delicious turkey sandwich. Atmosphere and people watching... where it's at!
From Stein's, it was a just a little slide to the left on my way back for a stop at the Needlework Vault. That was a fun shop -- three very chatty ladies, one of whom was formerly a policewoman and a story or two about Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. I found a little yarn and also a small New Orleans-themed cross-stitch chart.
On the way home, I spotted the unmistakable triangular tip of a shawl draped over the back of a chair on the monument above and, of course, needed to investigate further! Turns out, I was in Margaret Square, admiring the lovely shawl (and amazing hairstyle) of Margaret Haughery, known as "The Bread Woman of New Orleans" and "Mother of Orphans," among other things.
Did I mention the weather? Wednesday was also 80F with the dew point at 72! I took my second shower of the day before noon!! Then I walked up a flight of stairs to the roof where I took this 360 panorama of the view. You can see the Crescent City Connection right about in the middle. The "mushroom" building that appears on each side of the photo is called Plaza Tower, and has been vacant & unused since 2002. It's a bit of an eyesore -- okay, fine, it's downright ugly -- full of toxic mold and asbestos.
We hoofed it everywhere, as neither of us rented a car and, as established, it was 80 degrees on Wednesday & I'd already taken two showers, so I decided to explore my transportation options before heading out again, and settled on mass transit. Bus and trolley stops were nearby, plus there was an app and a $3 day pass. I hopped a trolley and set out for the French Quarter -- destination The Quarter Stitch. That's a lovely shop and, of course, I found a few more things to buy -- including a souvenir fleur-de-lis needle gauge, some 8" US 2 DPNs, and a Crazy Zauberball.
Yes! I jumped! Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting and A Year of Techniques, I am knitting helical stripes. (More about that later... it's so cool!)
I hopped a trolley for the return trip, but my inexperience as a user of mass transit showed as I missed my stop and, la-di-da-di-da, ended up riding to the end of the line! I hopped off and got back on and was only 40+/- stops and an hour late meeting Ann. It was a nice main-drag tour of the Garden District, though!
We'd planned to go to a concert at Lafayette Square on Wednesday evening, but nothing was happening when we showed up -- it's possible that it was cancelled due to the threat of thunderstorms. It's not like you can't find music & food in New Orleans... so we did a quick little search and ended up at Killer Poboys at Erin Rose. Hello yum.
We also did some club-hopping and dancing! I may even have had a seat on the "LOVE TRAIN" that snaked through Fat Catz...
Thankfully, Thursday dawned much cooler and less humid. We'd wanted to go on a tour of some sort, and decided on bikes. Andrew was our most excellent (and truthful) guide on the Queen of the South tour at FreeWheelin' Bike Tours - a little bit of history, a little bit of architecture, a whole lotta fun.
From the moment I knew I was going to New Orleans, I knew I wanted to eat at Emeril's -- it makes me think of Maddy because she was such a fan of his TV show -- and that's where we had reservations for dinner on Thursday evening. It was just a bit more casual than Restaurant August, which suited us, but the service was just as fine or better -- Herman & Tim stood out and were most helpful & attentive. Ann & I shared Emeril's New Orleans BBQ Shrimp appetizer (served with a delicious petite rosemary biscuit), Ann had drum and I had swordfish, and it was free banana cream pie day, so we split that for dessert. Oh, cocktails: I had the "Grasshopper" -- not the ice cream version -- it was made with Hendrick's gin, cucumber water, lime juice, wheatgrass, and jalapeno simple syrup (yes, it had some zip!), and Ann had a Moscow Mule (she'd never had one before).
We hung out a little closer to home that night, having a beverage and then catching a free comedy show at The Howlin' Wolf.
We started slowly on Friday. Ann had to deal with a little stomach bug in the wee hours of the morning, and thankfully that's all it was. Eventually, we headed out for beignets!!
And a really good sandwich, too, but BEIGNETS... at Cafe Beignet! We went to the Royal Street location because if it's good enough for Alton Brown... oh, so yummy.
Ann had an order from Addy in Spain for Cheez-Its, so we were in need of a grocery store... we contemplated taking Lyft to a big box store, but prices were still pretty jacked and those would be some pretty expensive crackers! We stopped and asked a pedicab driver if there were any full-size grocers nearby and we ended up getting a ride to Rouse's. She stocked up on things like peanut butter, cereal, and snacks (I'd already fulfilled an order for a couple bottles of maple syrup), and then we carried it all back to our flat -- stopping for refreshment on the way!
Our final restaurant destination was Peche on Friday evening. This was the most casual of our "fine dining" establishments. We'd been shown directly to our tables at Restaurant August and at Emeril's, and made it a point to arrive early at Peche in order to enjoy the scene and a drink at the bar. I had a delicious cocktail called Morris Day (Nolet's dry gin, thyme, grapefruit, lemon & tonic) and Ann had the Gintilly Shakedown (Hendrick's gin, ginger, cucumber, lemon & cava). Actually, I had two.
And oysters!! I'd never had raw oysters before... so that was interesting, and good! Meanwhile, Ann had struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to her and we got on so well that we invited her to join us for dinner. Turns out she's originally from Michigan, is a knitter and omni-crafter, and her husband was our bartender! We chatted & laughed & ate the most amazing food -- a collection of shared small plates including steak tartar, caviar, snapper collar, fish sticks, and tuna spread. And also wine.
Ann and I talked about going out for a bit more music & dancing, but we were pooped by the time we got back...
And I had to be curb-side, waiting for my cab, at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning! Ann's departure was a bit later, but she had a lot of packing to do.
When I checked in at the airport in New Orleans, there was a message at check-in that the flight from Chicago to Green Bay was overbooked and I had the option of possibly taking a later flight in return for a voucher. And that's exactly what I did. I had knitting, an audio book, and all day. I was more than happy to take a travel voucher (and a few meal vouchers) in exchange for my seat!
Too early to return? There's SO MUCH left to do!! We didn't go to a single museum and didn't hear nearly enough music!
Meanwhile, Ann informed me that next year's conference is in Nashville! And as I spent the day at O'Hare, Kate was busy booking our flights to SPAIN!!
What's that they say?? A rolling stone gathers no moss...
We went to Florida!
We visited the Keys and the Everglades.
We visited the beach.
We visited a Japanese garden and museum.
And we flew home again.
There were some other things, but I'll have to fill you in later. The weather was perfect (outside of a midnight tornado warning on our last night) and we had a great time!
I kept up on the news as best I could, especially in regard to the March(es) on Saturday. I was thrilled to receive emails and photos from TWO of the three recipients of my Pussyhat Project hats. So cool. I'm hoping to share that, too.
Meanwhile, re-entry is a bitch. On top of which, I drive down to O'Hare after work today to pick up Kate from her London-Paris-Edinburgh adventure! At least we'll have lots to talk about on the drive home. :)
We were this >< close last week to booking crazy-low priced flights to Valencia. Alas, sometimes it's really hard to get your ducks to line up in a timely & efficient manner, and by the time all was situated, the sale was over... we missed it by hours. It was heartbreaking; I even lost sleep over it. Ugh.
The bug had bitten!
Kate's making plans for a UK/France visit in early winter; Rusty's making summertime CA plans; and I will likely go to Spain in June, hopefully overlapping a bit with Maddy & Kate as they meet up during summer travels.
In the meantime, I'm taking Annie up on her offer to come & stay in New Orleans at the end of February when she's there for a conference. She'll be there for a week; I'll head down mid-week... we'll have evenings and perhaps an afternoon or two together. I've already scouted yarn stores. I think we'll catch a concert in a nearby park one evening, and maybe go to Emeril's for dinner on another... what shouldn't I/we miss??
Speaking of Emeril and food and travel, I really enjoyed his Amazon show, Eat The World. His show on Food Network was one of Maddy's favorites when she was a kid, and we'd often watch together... so perhaps I've a little soft spot for Emeril. BAM! ;)
I am looking forward to coloring in this map (and my world map) a little bit more in 2017!
*According to my rules, if I've driven/traveled across you numerous times and/or got lost in your mountains for an afternoon, I've "visited" you.
I used to say that my mother had more style in her little finger than all of her children had combined -- and none of my siblings would disagree with me. She always looked great -- even at work! She was a surgical nurse and hated wearing the required headwear, but found fabrics she liked and made her own! She had a very distinct style and a clear understanding of what she liked and what worked for her.
Fashion and style were never all that important to me -- I was always more about comfort, though I drew the line at sweatpants (overheating being the biggest reason). I'd have my moments, and there were even some things that Mom & I could share -- we'd traded stuff since I was in high school, even though our "styles" were quite different. I've become a bit more interested in developing and figuring out My Style over the past couple of years, and it appears that my interest is growing now that my #1 style icon is no longer with us. Taking up the torch, perhaps; missing her; paying homage. Surprising myself, I've even added a few "over-50" style blogs to my list of blog reads, and created a couple of boards on Polyvore for this post! ha.
Also, I was quite pleased about successfully paring down my packing list for our recent vacation to Mexico! After struggling up a couple flights of stairs in Glasgow last spring while juggling/dragging a large bag and two suitcases full of crap I never used, I finally learned the lesson. (Not to mention lugging it all through airports, shuttles, the streets of Edinburgh, and various locations in the Highlands.) (Similar lesson during our first UK trip having completely bounced off my brain.)
This time, I gave a little more thought into what I was packing and how it all worked together and fit everything into two bags -- a single checked suitcase and a large carry-on bag. Granted, I still had at least one pair of space-hogging shoes too many in the suitcase, though thankfully it was mostly sandals and not boots! My large leather carry-on held camera, lenses, tablet, phone, chargers, earbuds, all travel papers, sunglasses, chapstick, tissues, ibuprofen, and even a small knitting project. That's it! No extra carry-on and no purse to juggle!!
The leather bag is heavy even when empty, but it was so much easier to switch up when I wasn't juggling it in addition to another carry-on and/or a purse. The bag also has adjustable straps and it can be carried in many ways, including as a backpack. My recently finished Tasha bag was packed in my checked bag and I used that for day-to-day running around during vacation -- it was perfect!
I really don't mind checking a bag, so my goal was never to fit everything into a carry-on, but it's sure nice to be a little more efficient and, especially, to not lug around stuff that I use only once... or never.
For the record, and with an eye on possible improvement next time, here's what I packed and how each item fared. I've used the roll-up method of packing for years to optimize space and minimize wrinkles. (Except for the Karina dress, the Eileen Fisher dress, the Fluevogs and the Keens -- all recent sale/reward acquisitions -- it's all stuff that I've owned, most of it for quite a while.)
- Karina Dresses "Audrey" (shown below) - wore 2-3 times
- J. Jill mid-length tie-die dress (shown above) - wore 2-3 times
- Eileen Fisher long black dress - wore once
- Eileen Fisher navy tunic - wore once
- J. Jill black tunic - wore 3-4 times
- Coldwater Creek long black sweater - wore on the plane
- Merona black shrug (similar, shown below) - wore almost every evening
- (2) Eileen Fisher tanks (taupe, gray) - one of these would have been fine
- (2) J. Jill knit capris (black, gray) - one of thesewould have been fine
- (2) Lysse Women's Cotton Capri Leggings (navy, white) (shown above) - wore white 2-3 times
- (2) Black leggings - wore 3-4 times
- (2) Bathing suits - wore one - didn't really need either of these
- Undergarments, socks - wore a pair of socks when I wore the tennies
- (3) Shawls, scarves - used only one
- Brazilian Canga towel + a long dress made from a canga - used the canga a lot on the beach, and never wore the dress as a dress, but used it to drape around my neck/shoulders - they're very lightweight and easy to tote
- Wolky sandals - wore a lot
- Taos sandals (shown above) - wore a lot
- Keen closed-toe sling-backs - wore on the plane to Mexico
- Fluevog sandals (shown below) - wore two evenings
- Tennis shoes - wore on the boat
- Sun hat (similar, shown above) - wore everyday
- Tasha hand-knit bag (similar, shown above) - used everyday
I'd leave a few pairs of leggings at home, for sure, as well as a few pairs of socks and at least one of those bathing suits. The longer black dress was in case I needed something slightly dressier for an evening, the navy tunic was the only piece other than a sweater that wasn't sleeveless. I've actually just ordered a couple more cangas because those things are wonderful and summer is coming! And shoes... well, at least sandals don't take up THAT much room!
What are your best packing tips?
I went to a Knit In and came home with yarn... and a beer glass! My friend had an extra, so also the matching wine glass! Welcome to Wisconsin!!
I had a great time at and around the 2015 Madison Knitters' Guild Knit In over the weekend! Ann & I made a few stops along the way. Susan's Fiber Shop -- incredibly, for the very first time* but not the last. Bradbury's for coffee and crepes -- we split one savory, one sweet. The Sow's Ear, not exactly on the way but worth the stop; we shopped and knit and sipped away the remainder of the afternoon.
On Friday night, we had dinner at Red Sushi. My nephew Dylan is on the wait staff there and it was fun to have both his guidance and Ann's, especially since I'm basically a sushi newbi. I can definitely proclaim myself a sushi lover, though, and I'm already looking forward to next time. Great cocktails at Red Sushi, and also at Merchant, where we went after dinner; I'd like to eat there sometime!
Saturday was full of classes. Ann & I both took Annie Modesitt's "Mad About Plaid" and enjoyed it very much! It was fun and informative; Annie is a great teacher, not to mention entertaining, brilliant and creative.
I also had a class in the afternoon about working with hand-dyes -- identifying techniques and patterns to help them sing to you as much when knitted up as they do when they land in your shopping cart! I thought this would be beneficial, not only as a yarn collector and knitter, but also as a sometime dyer.
Ann had both the Wine & Yarn Pairing and the Beer & Fiber Tasting events on Saturday afternoon... I'd signed on to take part in only the Beer event on Sunday.
Each event had its own custom pattern and a mini-skein kit designed by Jimmy Beans Wool and custom dyed at Koigu. And that glass! We tasted beers from Wisconsin Brewing Company: #008 - Old Reliable, #002 - American I.P.A., and #003 - Brown & Robust Porter. I've had the I.P.A. before (I love a hoppy beer right now and can't wait to find PSYCHOPATH!) and the Amber Lager -- good brews!
We visited the marketplace between classes and during our free times. I was delighted to finally lay eyes on (and even hug) some long-time virtual friends, including Kathleen Pascuzzi who is Annie's partner at ModeKnit Yarn, and Emily Parson from Sophie's Toes!
There were same changes to the event this year -- a new, larger venue that cost a ton of money, I'm sure. That cost was passed on to attendees and vendors alike. Unfortunately, it was not very walk-in friendly and people who wanted only to shop were not too keen on paying $15 admission on top of $7 parking just to get in the door. I think some of the vendors did okay, but I'm afraid that many may have done less than okay; booth fees, travel, lodging -- and some came a ways (Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, New York) -- I'm all too familiar with this scenario from Rusty's art fair days! I hope something can be done to make vendors more accessible to the public; they're not going to come back if they're not making (or, in the end, only breaking even or losing) money, and I think they're a big attraction.
On Saturday evening, we were joined by others, including Ann's long-time friend Lisa, caityrosey, and Java Jennie/Kitchen Counter Crafter (great bags and fun fabrics!). We went to Grampa's Pizzeria and OH MY... that's not my grandpa's pizza, but it is some of the best pizza I've had in a while! One of our pies had brussels sprouts and chunky bacon, another had pesto, and we all tasted/shared a ginger cake for dessert. Delicious. Afterwards, we made our way to Old Sugar Distillery Tasting Room for a taste and some shopping. I had a delicious and refreshing drink based on the Brazilian caipirinha but made with Old Sugar's Honey Liqueur.
I may have had two. *clink*
My main knitting project over the weekend was Deep End II. I managed to work the sewn bind-off by lunch time on Sunday! I need to weave in some ends, give it a soak, and lay it out to dry.
On the way out of town, we stopped at Jamerica for a bite to eat before heading home. That was an unexpected but delightful stop!
I was asked a few times what my favorite part of the weekend was and I really couldn't single anything out -- it was ALL my favorite part:
Friends Old & New, Fiber & Yarn, Food & Drinks!
It doesn't get much better than that.
*I have visited the large Susan's Fiber Shop booth at all three NY Sheep & Wool Festivals, as well as at WI Sheep & Wool, so not a complete stranger!
30th Anniversary = Diamonds (Modern)
We found some in Mexico!
Water sparkling like diamonds.
Diamonds in architectural elements.
We even walked on diamonds.
And found a refrigerator magnet souvenir!
30th Anniversary = Pearls (Traditional)
We weren't really looking, but found a big one in Mexico!
I like this photo of us...
...but this one shows the pearl better.
This was on the waterfront promenade in La Paz, filled with all sorts of sculpture! It was a fun stroll.
- Project: Going Off The Deep End, Deep End by Heidi Kirrmaier
- Modified version
- Yarns (in order of knitting):
- Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Great South Babes - custom colorway of The Village Knitter
- Eden Cottage Yarns BFL Sock in Damsel fly
- Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock in Celeste Polvere
- Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock in Undyed
- Mystery Yarn FTW and Drama
- Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock in Celeste Polvere (reprise)
- Needle: US 5 Straights
- Start to Finish: January 17 - 28, 2015
I love this shawl, and wear it most often as a scarf! It was perfect for traveling and perfect for Mexico!
I've started another for Alison in almost all the same colors -- I've switched out (and began with) another of my Make.Do hand-dyes in place of the very similar Eden Cottage, followed by the Great South Babes (which is where I am in the project right now); I'll probably follow that with the Undyed, the Celeste Polvere, then a slash of RED, and probably another Undyed (or maybe one of the bolder colors) to finish.
Or who knows!?
Details and a few more photos are on the Ravelry project page.
Did I mention that I love it?
Photos were taken by Rusty at Casa de Piedra, Las Tunas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This is the home we stayed in for our week's vacation, booked via airbnb. (You may click that link to sign up and receive a $25 credit, if you're so inclined; I'll also get a credit if/when you book or host).
This was my third airbnb experience: the first was an adorable 2BR walk-up in Glasgow, second was a cute little A-frame in Door County for a cycling weekend. I'm sure there are some not-so-great experiences, but I don't even look at a listing that doesn't have at least one recent review or have a known connection to the owner.
We stayed 7 nights in Mexico at $200 night (including all fees) -- the entire gorgeous home (inside & out) to ourselves for less than a "deluxe suite with garden view" at a nice hotel in the area -- and we had spectacular views of the ocean, the desert, the mountains, the pool, and the garden. 5 Stars!!
It was SO hard to leave...
(A picture-heavy post. Just so ya know.)
I winged my way to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, invited by my sister Ann to be her guest at a wedding. We both had enough frequent flyer miles for the trip but, alas, on different airlines. Thankfully, we were able to depart/arrive to/from the same airports with no more than an hour difference and only a terminal/gate away, as the case may be! (I love GRB & ATW, my small city airports!!)
THURSDAY - ARRIVAL
The flights both there and back were incredibly beautiful. We arrived in L.A. on Thursday evening, found each other, took the shuttle to Avis, waited in a very long line (that, thankfully, moved right along for the most part), and rented a car -- a red Mustang convertible! It's California!!
We put the top down and drove to the Wilshire Motel, where we were booked for our first two of five nights. What a great little place -- cute, clean, good location, and very reasonably priced! The only improvement I'd make would be in decor; absolutely adorable on the outside and almost untouched structurally/architecturally on the inside, some vintage-y colors and furnishings would knock it out of the park. Our hosts were fantastic. I would stay here again in a heartbeat (with or without improvements in decor!). (I'm available for consult!)
FRIDAY - SANTA MONICA & HOLLYWOOD
Santa Monica Beach was just a few mile straight down Wilshire Boulevard. We easily found a place to park in the morning (watch for cyclists!) and it was a nice walk, either by sidewalk or sand (we chose sand), to the Santa Monica Pier.
The park was closed 'til mid-afternoon for a private party on Friday, which was absolutely fine because we'd already planned on our "real" visit for nighttime. Bright lights!
HELLO TO HOLLYWOOD
We got our tourist on and went up to Hollywood Boulevard to walk amongst the stars. My main mission there was to find (Sid Grauman's) (Mann's) TCL Chinese Theatre... it will always be Grauman's to me. We weren't disappointed!
A portrait of Eminem at Sweet! made of... M&Ms!
We did some shopping (souvenirs and candy, along with some window- w/selfies in the mirror) (I believe I am now the shortest person in the family!), took pictures with wax figures and sidewalk stars.
On the recommendation of the guy at the flip-flop store (!), we had lunch at the Pig 'n Whistle. He did not steer us wrong! Annie had the most amazing Roasted Brussel Sprout Salad, and mine was Roasted Beet (how could I not?). We had dessert at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain... and, OMG, that was almost too much! Good thing we were on vacation.
We drove over to The Huntington Library, but it was not long before closing and not quite worth the full price of admission, so we spent some time -- some very good and productive time -- in the gift shop. Fabulous gift shop at The Huntington, in case anyone needs to know. I left a lot behind.
We stopped at Whole Foods on the way back and bought more beet salad, some crackers, goat cheese, local beer, and ate a wonderful little dinner in our cute little kitchen on Wilshire, and then...
We made our way back to the Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel and rollercoaster. It was a beautiful evening, and a lovely end to our first day in L.A.
SATURDAY - WEDDING DAY!
The wedding was on the beach at Oxnard, so we checked out of the Wilshire Motel and drove up through Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway.
We didn't stop in Malibu, but we did find ourselves at the gate to The Getty Villa! I apologized, intending to turn around, as I was aware that (free) tickets were required and we didn't have them -- not really planning that stop -- but the gateman gave us a couple and we parked our steed. We took a small guided tour -- loved our wonderful young docent -- to learn about some highlights of the collection, and then wandered the grounds a bit on our own, had a little lunch. There was an art class happening, so busy people were sprinkled throughout. It was all rather unexpected and fun to come upon them here or there, one or two or three; quite lovely. I'm so happy we accidentally stopped there.
We arrived in Oxnard prior to normal check-in time, but I'd called the day before and while not guarantted, the wonderful folks at Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor had our room ready early... thankfully! We had just enough time to freshen up and get dressed, before heading to the beach for the most wonderful wedding!
SO WONDERFUL! Reunited after 40+ years (they'd dated in high school), the couple incorporated so many things about the people and places that are most important to them. One of the (many) things I loved best was the sand... it was "supposed to be" mixed together -- sand from Portugal, Yosemite, Brasil and Hawaii, all special to this couple in some way -- but they layered it, beautifully, and then each scooped some sand at their feet and poured that on top... because Mandalay Beach at Oxnard, CA, is now quite special, too!
The reception was held at Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine. Oh my. Nearly everyone who works there is from Brazil! The food was fantastic, the caipirinha flowing. We danced all night...
SUNDAY - BEACH BBQ
There was a beach barbecue on Sunday and all I kept thinking was that we were those people -- the people at the beach having a party and a cookout and agreat time that you always wished was you!
That was us! There was swimming, body-surfing and boogie-boarding; music and singing and juggling; food and drink and laughter; birthday massages on the beach!!
That was us! We were those people! It was so fun.
Never far from our minds was our family, in particular those we've lost and the one that should have been with us. We had some signs -- the guy in his own red convertible who drove up behind us at a stoplight, Andrea Bocelli blaring (Hi Mom!), the street performer singing Tracy Chapman's Fast Car on Hollywood Boulevard (Hi Sharon!).
When we saw the Kombucha DEPARTMENT in the refrigerator case at Ralph's on Sunday, we absolutely thought of our sister Karen. We even took a photo and sent it to her, fermenting fiend that she is, at the moment. Karen shared the photo on FB and wrote, "My sisters are making me jealous! They are like the wicked stepsisters sometimes! Ha, ha!"
And I'm pretty sure she won't miss the next outing with her sisters! (She had a good reason.)
We brought home some more groceries to "eat in" on at our hotel on Sunday while we watched American Hustle in preparation for Monday.
The view of the harbor from our balcony on Monday morning... "paradise" comes to mind.
MONDAY - CRAIG FERGUSON DAY!
But first, La Brea Tar Pits! We didn't have time to visit the Page Museum, but we did have time to visit the gift shop... we had a good time in gift shops on this trip!
Then there was a long period of standing in line in the hot, hot sun. Then sitting around in the shade. Then walking up a bunch of stairs to wait in line again, and finally into the studio. Without cell phones, as they warned us that they wouldn't be allowed and we'd have to check & then claim them, so we actually talked with our neighbors in line and it was GREAT! There were actually two shows taped that day, both Monday's and Friday's, because Craig was going to be at Comic Con in San Diego on Friday. The big name stars were were Octavia Spencer and Bradley Cooper (hence, American Hustle the night before) (were were unaware of the second show, or we might have also watched The Help!). I'm looking forward to Get On Up.
After the show, we went over to The Grove and had dinner at The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge. It just happened to be "seafood month" and the featured dish that week was half of a grilled lobster with a Blackstrap cocktail and dessert (grilled figs on honey mascarpone)... so good.
Have I mentioned how much fun I had planning this trip? Annie said "let's go to L.A." and I pretty much took it from there. I love planning trips like this! The Farmer's Daughter Hotel kept showing up on my radar and finally I clicked and booked us for Monday night -- it was exactly where we needed to be! Annie was pretty happy with all of my suggestions and choices until this one, which we happened to pass a few times on Monday morning -- there were just a couple of things that made her question my choice (something about window treatments) -- but it turned out to be a STELLAR choice. Not only were they having a whiskey tasting happy hour when we checked in, our room was absolutely adorable (yay decor!), and the staff was amazing. Walking distance to CBS, Farmer's Market, and The Grove... it was perfect.
TUESDAY - DEPARTURE
I opted to include breakfast at Tart in our hotel package, and that was magnificent. That's my crab cakes benedict, Ann had corned beef hash -- both excellent.
We made our way to the aiport to return our car and make our way to the terminal. It could not have been a better trip, and I like L.A. so much more than I ever thought I would! I can't wait to plan our next get-away! Heh.
BRINGING IT HOME
Did you know that L.A. has an average of 329 Days of Sun each year? It says so right there on a can of lager than I brought home in my suitcase. Cheers! :)
I started with the selfies even before departure. Here we are, having both sailed through security at our local airport with TSA Pre-check. Rusty had his paint box packed in his carry-on, which included a few tools and things, and that was enough for a special look-through and no TSA Pre-check for him on the way home. I had it, though, and I'm not ashamed to say that I used it. I was hot, I was tired, I comfortably waited for him at the end of that long, long line. Heh.
I started taking them at every castle we visited and next thing you know, the SCOTTISH CASTLE SELFIE SERIES was born!
Old Man of Storr (not a castle, but towering)
Eilean Donan Castle again (WC/coffee break)
Once in selfie mode...
at Inverness Castle - River Ness behind us
in the rental car at Inverness, READY TO GO!
I have no idea where this is! Judging from attire and windblown-edness, it's somewhere on the Isle of Skye, maybe near Storr.
I think the smiles say everything that needs to be said here. :)
Ten on Tuesday/Wednesday: 10 Things I Did Last Weekend
Well, it was definitely not a typical weekend -- holiday or otherwise! We returned home on Tuesday (yesterday) from 12 days in Scotland, so the weekend was the end of a pretty great vacation.
1. On Saturday morning, I woke up at Croft 23 after the last of our 5-night stay. People, there is truth in advertising! If nothing else, just take a minute to watch the slideshow at the top of that page; minus the brilliant sunsets, the northern lights, and the sheep (they were apparently happy elsewhere last week), it was just that beautiful. Mark and Jan were our warm and welcoming hosts, and they were marvelous. Mark is an amazing landscape photographer and it's worth a "Like" on Croft 23's Facebook page just for the almost daily photo.
2. Later on Saturday morning, on our way to Glasgow, we stopped at a castle to use the facilities, and also to get coffee... and a selfie. Ha. Yeah, we really did! We'd already visited Eilean Donan Castle as admission-paying tourists several days before.
3. We drove through more of the never-tiring Scottish Highlands. Even after six days of driving through the Scottish Highlands, we still pulled over at almost every opportunity to take photos!
4. We had lunch at Crannog Seafood Restaurant -- a place I've been to before!! Fort William was as far north as we'd ventured three years ago and it was on our way to Glasgow this time, so we retraced some steps. It was kind of fun to feel a bit familiar with a place.
5. We arrived in Glasgow for the first of two nights at an adorable 2-bedroom 3rd-floor walk-up in the west end that I found on airbnb. It was my first airbnb experience and it was good; the place was just as advertised, easy to find, very clean, and well appointed. Cute enough to live in!
6. On Sunday, while Rusty walked about Glasgow*, visiting galleries and museums, Katie and I drove west and met up with Yvette! I've cyber-known Yvette for years -- 10 years, to be exact (through the magic that is searching the archives, I've determined that the first time she commented on my blog was May 31, 2004!) -- and had missed her move back to Scotland from France three years ago by mere weeks. It was so fun to meet!!
7. We drove a bit north, again on some familiar roads, to another familiar place. We'd visited Portencross Castle at West Kilbride a couple of times three years ago. I'd scattered some of Sharon's ashes there -- because she loved Scotland and had influenced our decision to go there (instead of Ireland) -- and it didn't feel right to be so close and not visit.
8. On Monday, we returned our rental car in Glasgow. We had one of the most uncomfortable encounters of the trip -- any trip any of us have ever been on -- when a guy from the rental company gave us a lift to the train station. He obviously didn't want anything to do with us -- because Americans? tourists? -- no greeting, no response, completely ignoring questions and attempts at conversation, or grunting a barely audible one-word response. Thankfully, it was a short drive! It was a quick train ride back to Edinburgh for our last night.
9. It may seem strange that our last meal in Scotland was at Wannaburger -- basically American fast-food burgers, fries & shakes -- but it is what it is, and it was really good! I'm more than a little envious of the food scene in the UK, and these weren't your typical American fast-food burgers! Wannaburger is a favorite of the American students in Edinburgh -- comfort food. Anyway, we ate very well in Scotland. If Wannaburger was the worst, then it was the best worst. Heh. I feel as though I've gained 20 pounds in the past two weeks (is that possible?). Anyway, while Rusty took one last walk-about in Edinburgh after dinner, Katie took me to a fun and gorgeous place called The Voodoo Rooms, right around the corner/behind our hotel for cocktails (mine, left, is Where The Wild Things Are, and Kate's is Mother Earth).
10. Finally, having learned a little bit about whisky on this trip, we enjoyed a lovely last view from the lounge at Motel One while the sun set on our visit, capping the night with a glass of single-malt... neat (eventually adding a wee bit of water to taste).
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Vacation was quite lovely. I fully intended to blog along the way, but our days were packed and connectivity limited. Don't worry, I'll fill you in!
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*The Glasgow School of Art was on the list but was devastated by fire just days before our arrival in Glasgow. One of Glasgow's -- indeed, Scotland's -- great treasures, firefighters took extraordinary measures to save as much of the structure as possible, well deserving of a lovely Thank You.
Well, it was a pretty good weekend, starting with the "Taste of Wisconsin" at UW-Stevens Point on Friday evening -- showcasing food & beverages made in Wisconsin -- from beer, wine, and potato vodka to cheese, sausage, and pizza. So much fun.
It was a fund-raising event, we're just doing our part! I picked a spot with terrible lighting to take a photo (complete with toothy, blurry photobomb) but no matter, it's safe to say that a good time was had by all.
Karen & I spent a fair amount of time on Saturday morning at a Call It New/Call It Antique. An enormous but clean, well organized, and well lit combination thrift store/antique mall. I found a few interesting cotton shirts to cut up and use for future Alabama Chanin style projects, and Karen came away with a tacky treasure or two.
We stopped by Maddy's apartment, which I hadn't seen since move-in day, then drove out to Crafter HQ: Herschnerr's Outlet Store before heading north to Wausau.
We visited Black Purl, and if you'd have told me that it's been almost 9 years since I was last at that shop -- in a completely different location -- I'd never have believed it. Man oh man. The shop I originally visited was a second-story downtown location. Now (for the past 4.5 years) it's a little further north in stand-alone and very interesting shop -- quite lovely!
I haven't been knitting much lately (though I am back on track, following and making progress with my Arrow), nor feeling terribly inspired, but I really couldn't resist when I saw the POP Blanket shop sample. I've had the pattern since it was released... and I think it's time. Mine will be a little different than most. Surprised?
We stopped into a bunch of other thrift/vintage decor shops, clothing/shoe stores, a co-op, and then it was time for food! The Great Dane Pub was on the way back to our hotel, and they were one of the vendors at the Taste of Wisco event.
On Sunday, we took Maddy to breakfast at The Wooden Chair, a fun little restaurant that I've already been to a few times over the years. We walked down to Call It New/Antique so Karen could purchase the jardinere that she spotted on Saturday. After much consideration and "sleeping on it," it was meant to be! We also stopped in at the Stevens Point Area Co-op before dropping Maddy off. It's tiny but fab, in a great historic building and so cute. Karen has begun working part-time at her local co-op, so she/we were a bit more tuned in!
A weekend away with my sis and a little time with one of my girls... just what I needed, I think!