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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cold hands

My hands — and feet, too — get awfully cold, even in the comparatively mild climate where we live. Sometimes they get so cold that the shade of white they turn makes them look dead. Ugh! I've worn gloves for years, of course, but sometimes gloves get in the way of doing things that need "direct finger contact". As a result, I've been looking at the patterns of cute fingerless mittens, and I finally decided to go ahead and make a pair in hopes of keeping my hands warmer while still being able to use my fingers easily. This pattern, called Owl Study Gloves, was posted on the Alpaca Direct blog. I've never received yarn as quickly from anyone as I have from these people! They're amazing.

This was my first time using double-pointed needles, but they didn't all gang up on me and spill their stitches all over the place or stab me unmercifully, so everything worked out well. ;) In fact, the thing I had the most difficulty with was finding 1/4" buttons to use as the owls' eyes! I had no choice of color at all and figure I'm lucky I found any even in plain white. LOL! I used brown thread to attach them to the mittens, just to make my owls look awake.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday wishes

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope we all have a peace-filled, healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Silk!

In Houston last month, I ran across a stand selling silk yarn called Silky Mulberry. Oh, yum! It's so soft and luscious to touch that I simply couldn't leave the stand without a skein of that yarn. The hardest part was deciding which color to buy. I finally ended up with a skein of shades of grey that I think will look nice looped around my neck over a black or white sweater. Heaven knows it will feel wonderful! The people in the stand were giving away a simple pattern with the yarn, so I made a scarf from what I bought and just finished blocking it today. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy HIll

We've been reading about and mourning the loss of those 20 innocent children and six courageous adults last week at the Sandy Hill school in Connecticut. Who knows how or why these things happen? I won't get political and say what I think about gun control, but today I found out about something positive that I could do. Who knows whether it will help? But at least I can do something. Two different sites for embroidery digitizing have designed free-standing lace snowflakes and are giving the designs away for those who would like to participate. Apparently, the PTA for the Sandy Hill school will welcome back their students (in their new location) with a winter wonderland theme. To that end, people are sending snowflakes to decorate this school. I will send the ones I made today, and I hope the children and staff at the school will realize how much we all care about them.

This first design is from Embroidery Library. I wasn't sure I liked it as much as the second one, but after stitching it out I can say that I certainly do! :) It's very delicate and sweet.

The second one is from LindeeG, and hers is every bit as beautiful as the first one. It's not quite as delicate, but those hearts are perfect for this!

Both designs are available in multiple sizes and multiple formats for any embroidery machine.  Both sites also have the address for mailing the snowflakes to the PTA.

Mine go out tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

April Azalea

This little quilt was an unexpected bonus from my quilting buddy. She purchased a Hawaiian-themed two-block kit from Stacy Michell, but she didn't feel like doing both blocks. She did one and gave me the "negative image" version of the one she'd finished. Hers has pink where mine has yellow/blue/green and vice versa.

The blocks are laser-cut and backed with fusible, so all that's necessary is to fuse the motifs to the included background and then appliqué them by machine. I used blanket stitch, and the fun part is that this is done right through the batting and backing (not included), too, so that it's quilted at the same time!

I didn't have a suitable fabric for binding, so I added a facing instead. The finished block is about 17.5" square; it would have been a trifle bigger if a bit hadn't been turned to the back with the facing. Oh, and it really is square, but I had it "hanging" on the curved back of a chair. It was fun to do! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Gift for You!

A few days ago, I was given the opportunity to review a book, and you can get this book free of charge, too! :) The book is Build Your Best Log Cabin, put out by Fons and Porter, and it's an ebook, which means you don't even have to pay for having it shipped to you. You'll just download the PDF and then deal with it the way you prefer: you could read it on your computer, print it (or portions of it) out, or transfer it to your iPad/iPhone/iPod or other tablet or portable device. That's the joy of a PDF document: it's so portable!

As for the book itself, it's only 24 pages long, but it's chock-full of great information and very clear photos. One of its best features is a series of charts with cutting information for the logs. It's so much easier to put together a log cabin block with pre-cut logs! Trying to do so with logs that are sewn from longer strips and then lopped off to size only leads to skewed, wonky blocks. Not fun, as I learned several years ago. ;)

The book has a variety of log cabin versions; there is something to appeal to the traditionalist or the more modern quilter. There is also a bit of history of the style, and there are variations from such quilters as Ricky Tims and Marti Michell. As a final touch, there are lessons on making piped binding and on how to do a smooth binding.

So, you say you'd like to have this book? Great! As I said, it's a gift from the Fons and Porter site and can be found here. Enjoy! :)

Update 2/6/2013: I've just changed the link to a corrected copy of this ebook — I hope this hasn't caused any problems for anyone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday decorations

Last night a friend and I went to the Las Vegas Strip to catch a performance of Ô, a Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellaggio. The trip there was an adventure, since there had been little or no publicity about a marathon occurring yesterday afternoon and evening — a marathon that required the complete closure of the Strip itself! Ack! After driving in circles for a time, we finally parked a few miles away and caught a cab to Caesar's Palace (the cab driver knew about back access roads), then walked to the Bellaggio. Unfortunately, we had to forego our dinner reservation, as we had no way to get there in time, but we did have a lovely dinner at the Bellaggio prior to the performance.

The show itself was amazing. Of course, they don't allow photography of any kind, but suffice it to say that this is a show that is definitely worth seeing. The performers manage fantastic feats of swimming, diving and gymnastics, all with complete control and grace.

While we were at the Bellaggio, we went — of course — to the Conservatory to see the Christmas decorations. The Conservatory is redecorated every season with gorgeous floral displays. This one was breathtaking! Here are some photos of that.

  
 This is, naturally, the centerpiece of the display. The tree — a real one — goes right up to the ceiling and is decorated with white lights (my favorite!) and surrounded by giant hanging bells.

Near the tree and under the bells are giant tree ornaments lying on a bed of poinsettias. In fact, there were multiple varieties of poinsettias all through the Conservatory, as well as some carnations and other flowers.

The tree and ornaments were guarded by these enormous toy soldiers.


Nearby were a family of three polar bears covered in white carnations. This is Baby Bear, and Mama and Papa were nearby. There was also a large toy train going round and round in a different vignette, but I couldn't find a good spot to get a photo of that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting ready

I've been busy today! Christmas is sneaking up on me, so I've been baking and working on projects for the holidays today. One of the projects was to make some machine embroidered gift card holders from a CD I'd purchased a few months ago. The CD is from Dakota Collectibles and allows each of the holders to be made completely in the embroidery hoop. That should have allowed me to work on something else as the embroidery progressed, I thought, but that wasn't the case. ;) I had to watch carefully to stop the machine and cut the various jump stitches before they had so many stitches on top of them that cutting them became impossible. LOL! At any rate, I forgot to take pictures of the baking I did, but I did take a photo of the card holders.

They were really fun to make, but I do wish I'd had a smaller hoop so I hadn't had to waste so much stabilizer. ;) Still, I'm happy with them and may end up making more, if I have time. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

A gift!

While I was in Houston, I was able to hang out with some people I don't normally have the opportunity to see. One of them, Sue, is from Michigan, and we get together each year in Houston. This year she brought me a beautiful machine-embroidered piece with a Christmas theme — and told me I had to quilt and finish it. LOL! I didn't want to take anything away from her lovely embroidery, so I did some very simple feathers in the white border area and a few straight lines between rows of words just to hold everything together with the backing. Here's the result:


This is going to look so nice on my wall when I decorate for the holidays! Thanks, Sue! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Discovery


I've seen those gloves we quilters can buy to protect our hands while using rotary cutters; they're rather pricey, going for around $25 retail. This morning, however, my husband showed me something. You see, he frequently manages to cut his hands when using a knife. Since he loves to fish, he must do a certain amount of knife-wielding to clean and fillet his catch. Who knew that something called a "fillet glove" existed? Even better, who knew that it was just like the gloves quilters use to stay safe while rotary cutting?  Best yet, who knew that fillet gloves range in price from around $10 to almost as much as a rotary-cutting glove? Here's what my husband bought for his use, paying about $15 for one that will work for a leftie:

Actually, this one will work for people who are either left-handed or right-handed. Sadly, just as with the rotary cutting gloves, they don't seem to be available for people who need something smaller than "medium" or "large". Still, it's an option.

On another topic, our adorable little cocker spaniel was so cute yesterday! I'd been sorting laundry, dumping a few things on the floor of the closet for different loads. I walked away briefly and, when I came back, this is what I saw:

Did I mention that she's simply adorable? ;)


Back from Houston

I've been home for almost a week from the "really big show" in Houston, and I think I'm finally almost caught up. ;) It was wonderful, as always! I love everything about it: the gorgeous quilts, the amazing vendors, spending uninterrupted time with friends — some of whom I only see at this event — and the classes. I usually take zillions of photos of the quilts, but then I file them away and never use them again. This year I decided to simply enjoy the quilts, rather than taking pictures, so I don't have many to show. However, there was one very special quilt there that I simply had to recall; it was the Arizona Centennial Quilt, made by some very talented quilters in Arizona to commemorate a special anniversary.



The woman who had the vision for making the quilt and who did most of the organizing to get it done, Wanda Seale, was my roommate this year, and my very good friend Phyl contributed to the making. The quilt is actually two quilts, front and back, separately quilted (by different quilters) and then attached to each other. This is the front of the quilt, showing the state flora, fauna and topography.

And here is the back. This has the state flag, nickname and seal, as well as lists of past governors and the volunteers who contributed. There are also images of the state flower, bird and mammal.

The flag, seen here, was made by my friend Phyl.


These last two photos show areas of the state that are special to me. The first shows the southeast section, where I grew up (Tucson) and where I lived much of my adult life (Douglas).

And this one shows the northwest corner of the state, including Hoover Dam, which is between Arizona and Nevada, where I now live.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I love bread ...

 and I especially love crusty bread! Imagine how happy I was when a friend of mine pointed me to a recipe for a very easy-to-make crusty loaf. Yes, I do have a bread machine, and I use it a lot for our regular sandwich bread and a few variations. However, it doesn't do "crusty". I can do — and have done — dough in the machine and then baked it, and the results are good. However, this recipe sounded so easy that I decided to give it a try. Wow! "Easy" hardly begins to describe this. There's no kneading, and it can be started a day or so ahead of time, then baked for dinner. The crumb isn't as fine as a kneaded bread, but it's good, and I really enjoyed having it with some homemade turkey soup just now. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New "stuff"

 I've been working on a Craftsy class on doing beaded knitting for some time now. I'd already made one shawl from the class, and today I finished blocking the second/last one. This one is actually from a pattern I used in my very first Craftsy class, but the beads were added along the edging. I've pretty pleased with how it turned out, though I see that some of my points are turned under in the photo. Oops.

The beads are clear, with black centers, so they aren't very evident; they're more of an "effect", if you know what I mean.

That was the fun update. The not-so-fun update is that our refrigerator was becoming more and more unreliable over the course of the past few months. We'd had the compressor replaced, but we still experienced short periods where neither the freezer compartment nor the refrigerator seemed to be "on". A good clue was the mini "stalactites" I'd find hanging in the freezer every day or two.

Friday it happened again. While the cooling eventually turned itself back on, we'd had enough, so off we went to do some major shopping. I'm happy to report that our new refrigerator was delivered and installed yesterday afternoon! In addition, I finally have the bottom freezer I've wanted for so long. :) That puts the refrigerator at eye level and increases efficiency, since cold air falls. Now all we have to do is convince Bisou that the new appliance isn't some sort of scary monster! LOL!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On the Go Bag — sort of

A good friend of mine made Annie Unrein's On the Go Bag and liked it except for the size. It was simply too big for convenient use at — for example — a quilt show. Previously, I'd made Annie's Name Tag Bag, and I love it, except for being able to easily access and organize money in it. (As an aside, it is a perfect bag to use on a cruise ship, where carrying money isn't a consideration).

At any rate, my very good friend figured out how to alter the On the Go Bag to make it a size we'd both prefer, and then she shared her tips with me. :) Here's my new bag, ready to take to the next show. This one is roughly 7" x 8" and has pockets galore. There's the clear pocket for show badges, with a divided zippered pocket above that on the flap. The back has a large open pocket that will work quite well for my cell phone and my small sunglasses case. The main compartment of the bag, also zippered, has several credit card pockets and space for a change purse, a lipstick, some tissues and even a small camera.

The strap is adjustable, so I'll be able to wear it as a neck wallet, a shoulder bag, or across my body, depending on my mood. The bag has the perfect amount of stability, thanks to the Soft and Stable that adds both padding and body. I'm ready! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dimensional Christmas Tree

At last month's meeting of the smaller group I attend, one of our members kindly taught us how to make a dimensional Christmas tree wall hanging. I've managed to finish my version of it just in time for the next meeting, which will be this week. :) It was suggested to use green fabrics for the tree — of course! -- and a light background, but I was using scraps from my stash and found it better to reverse the colors because of the shapes I had available.

I think you can tell that the bottom of each "layer" of the tree isn't sewn down. I was supposed to make each one slightly "poofy" to stand away a bit from the background, but I decided to make them flat to make storage simpler. ;) I machine quilted the background before applying the tree parts, and that was definitely a good decision; I didn't have to work around the tree at all as I quilted! I kept the quilting simple, with wavy lines around the tree trunk and some basic large feathers around the top. I think you may be able to see the feathers here, if you click on the photo to make it larger.

The original pattern had a pieced border, but I happened to have this pretty stripe left over from a previous project, so I used that instead.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two kinds of fun

Wednesday I was one of a group who drove to St. George, UT, for their state-wide quilt show. A quilt show is a strong incentive to put up with single-lane driving through a construction zone, and with six of us in the vehicle there was lots of chatter to keep us entertained. :) The show itself was a little smaller than we'd expected for a show that encompassed the whole state, but the quilts were lovely. Then, of course, there was the shopping! ;) We did a little shopping with the vendors at the show, but then we went out for lunch and continued on to the Superior Thread place. Wow! What fun that is! The ground floor is floor-to-ceiling shelving with thousands of different threads. I've been there before, but it never fails to make my jaw drop to the floor. However, since the last time I was there, they've added Mother Superior's Fabrics to the upper floor. Wow again! But do you know what one comment was repeated over and over as we came home? It was simply how nice everyone there was, even though we weren't buying as much as some of the other shoppers. :) At the left you can see the sum total of my day's purchases. The two batiks in front were from the Clover Patch Quilt Shop's stand at the show. The pink batik at the back and the deep blue print next to it, as well as the needles and threads, were all from Superior. 

Okay, that was one kind of fun. The second one came about today. I was expecting my new iPhone, and that was an adventure. I was watching the tracking online and knew it was due to arrive this morning, but the UPS truck came to my neighborhood and left again without stopping at my house. Imagine my surprise (to say the least) when the online tracking said it had been delivered! The problem was that the person who signed for it wasn't me. Uh-oh. UPS was singularly unhelpful, saying that they couldn't track the package but that it had been delivered to my address. Wrong. Luckily, I have some very honest neighbors! They signed for the package without looking at it and then realized that it didn't have either their name or their address on it. The new iPhone is now safely at the right house. ;)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sakura

I've shown you this quilt in progress a few times, but it's now finished! I'm really happy with the way it turned out, though it doesn't quite fit on the wall where I'd planned to hang it; it's a little too long. That's okay; I'll figure out a solution. ;)

What's really funny is that I happened to run into someone I know at an "event" on Saturday at "my" Bernina dealership, and she's the one whose quilt I had so admired that I bought this kit — and it's very unusual for me to buy a kit; I think I've only done that once before.

I quilted this mostly in gold metallic thread, going through a few little glitches when the thread wasn't very cooperative and either broke or kinked. Still, I think that was the right choice. I did use black at the very top and bottom of the central panel, quilting swirls in the top and leaves in the bottom portion. However, the rest is all done in the gold metallic thread. In the central panel and the four outer corners I outlined a lot of the motifs to make them stand out; they were printed with a gold outline, and I think this just emphasized that. The border blocks had me puzzled for a time, but I finally decided simply to do curves on each side of each block; anything more intricate would probably have been lost in the design of the fabrics. I did add some corded piping between the outer border and the binding; I really love that effect on most of my quilts.

This quilt also has only the second embroidered label that I've done, and I think I found an appropriate motif to add to the text. I was very lucky that a good friend had lots of embroidery thread and let me pick out the colors I needed; there were ten colors in all, with almost double that number of thread changes to complete the label.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lake Las Vegas

Lake Las Vegas (google for more links) is an area that not enough people know about or visit. The setting there is just beautiful, and there is a little "village" with shops and apartments. We've gone out there several times for various events, and one of those events netted me a gift certificate to eat at Xing, a latin-oriental fusion restaurant. My husband and I decided to use the gift certificate this past Friday, so off we went.




Upon arriving, we first went to The Auld Dubliner for a pre-dinner drink. This is — obviously — an Irish-themed pub, and it's very enjoyable. This is a view of the front — very picturesque, don't you think? Of course, we were inside, since the weather is still rather warm here, but there is also outdoor seating.

Once we'd finished there, we headed across the sidewalk to Xing. I thought that the idea of mixing latin and oriental cuisines might be a bit odd, but I was wrong. In most Mexican restaurants, customers are immediately served chips and salsa while waiting to order and enjoy their meal. Here, we were served tiny chips with a choice of three dips. Hmmm … can you tell that we enjoyed those dips? ;) One was a Chinese-style mustard, another was a slightly spicy sweet-sour concoction, and the third was a very hot sauce — which my husband adored. As for me, I stuck to the other two. ;) My husband also enjoyed a beer, while I ordered a glass of the restaurant's sangría. Yum! 

The dinner I ordered was so delicious that I almost forgot to take a picture! My husband ordered some little ribs (he loves ribs!) that came with rice and a macaroni salad. He also ordered kimchee, which was really fun. My own choice was a tuna tartare that simply melted in my mouth. I loved it!

After finishing our dinners, we discovered that a little still remained of the gift certificate, so we shared a generous serving of the restaurant's mango ice cream for dessert. I love mango in almost anything! All in all it was a delicious meal in a lovely setting, and I hope to return again in the not-too-distant future.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Machine quilting — Sakura update


Can you see what I'm doing here? There's a lot of gold tracery printed onto this fabric, so I'm outlining the major motifs of the central panel. I'm using a gold metallic thread that gave me fits at first but has now settled down to behave itself. ;) I've done the two cranes, one of the large flowers, and all of the stylized "clouds". My biggest problem now is deciding how to quilt the squares and large rectangles that form the borders. I'm thinking I'll keep it simple, since there's so much gold printed on these fabrics, too; anything very detailed simply won't show up.

Any ideas out there?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Accola

I've mentioned before that I'm taking another class at Craftsy, this one called Knitting with Beads, taught by Laura Nelkin. Today I finished the first of two shawls for this class, and I'm now waiting for it to dry after having blocked it. :) I love the color of the yarn I used (it's a little paler than shows in the photo), and I think the beads are just subtle enough to add a nice touch without being too flashy. I'll probably start the second shawl soon; that one will be black.
Now it's back to some machine quilting! I'm planning to take yet another Craftsy class soon on another style of machine quilting, so that should be lots of fun.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm quilting ...

really, I am! ;) I know I haven't posted anything quilty in a long time, but I am quilting these days — as well as knitting and whatever else strikes me. LOL! And here's the proof:

This is a top that's a bit unusual for me, in that it came from a kit. I don't buy many kits (this is only my second!), but I did love it when I saw it some time ago. I pieced the top and then set it aside to go to Flagstaff and then on that Hawaiian cruise and to the Shakespeare Festival (it's been a busy summer!), but I'm back at it now. So far, I'm still working on the straight-line ditch quilting that I prefer to use for stability's sake, but the free-motion will be next — and much more fun! Here's another view of what I'm doing:

In case you're wondering, this is called Sakura, from a line of Red Rooster fabrics.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tea, anyone?

Can you imagine having afternoon tea while enjoying this view? That's what one of my daughters and I did this afternoon! :) She was away when my birthday rolled around, so this was her delayed birthday gift to me, and it was wonderful. We were on the twenty-third floor of a high-rise hotel, looking out at part of the Las Vegas Strip as we sipped and nibbled.


What did we nibble, you ask? Look at those lovely plates! There were little sandwiches to begin, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam (yum!). Finally, we had various pastries for dessert. All of that was, of course, accompanied by pots of tea — mine was a jasmine and Earl Grey blend that was really delicious.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon! It's not the first time we've done this, though this particular tearoom was new to us, and I sincerely hope it won't be the last. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Short get-away

Gosh, I can't believe it's been so long since I've updated my blog! I guess life has just been going along as usual, and nothing has stood out to write about lately. However, that changed yesterday. DH and I took off to go to Cedar City, UT, to see two plays during their annual Shakespeare Festival. Our trips there began rather accidentally, when I won tickets to one of these plays about a year ago. Once we'd gone there for that one, we were hooked! Up until yesterday, though, we hadn't actually seen anything from Shakespeare, as this Festival also produces plays by other authors from around the world. 

Yesterday, we actually attended — and thoroughly enjoyed — two plays. The first was a matinée performance of Scapin, a comedy originally written by Molière, a French playwright of the seventieth century. I'd read a lot of his works in college, since I majored in French, but I'd never seen one live. This production was translated, of course, into English, but it was also modified so that the characters interacted quite a bit with the audience. By the time the play ended, my cheeks were hurting from laughing so much!



But the laughter wasn't finished at that point. That evening, we attended a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor,  the first Shakespeare play we've seen there. We hadn't realized that these plays are performed in a replica of the old Globe! It was quite impressive, and the actors were so good that everyone there enjoyed the experience despite the inherent difficulties of understanding Elizabethan English. There was much laughter and enthusiastic applause — all well deserved. :) The photo I've attached here is a panorama of the inside of the outdoor theater; naturally, no photography was allowed during the performance.

It was a long — but completely enjoyable — day, but we're home again and ready for an afternoon nap! ;)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another cardigan

I've mentioned before that I've taken a couple of knitting classes from Craftsy, and I've just finished another one. This one is called The Perfect Fit Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan. LOL! That's a real mouthful, isn't it? But it involved "playing" with different lace knitting motifs and incorporating them into a cardigan or shrug — all according to how we wanted the finished garment to look.

The class was excellent, and I had a great time figuring out which lace patterns I wanted to use; it was very easy to determine how to adjust the stitch count in order to change lace patterns, and the instruction was quite thorough. :) In fact, I had such a good time playing with the lace motifs that I may have gone a trifle overboard in using them. ;) This cardigan is actually a dark burgundy color (the hazards of ordering online — I'd wanted a bright red), but the lace shows better in this photo where the color is lightened and brightened. I didn't like the only buttons I could find, so I've left them off and may end up adding hooks instead.

As soon as I get organized, I'm going to begin yet another class, this one dealing with knitting beads into the patterns. That's really going to be a stretch for me, since I'm not usually much for "embellishing" — the "E" word, as a friend of mine puts it. ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back from vacation!

Does this photo tell you why I haven't posted in a while?


I've been quiet because I've been away with DH — we took a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands for our 40th anniversary, and we enjoyed ourselves just as much as you might imagine. ;) I'll try to make up for my long silence with a longish post! When we arrived in our cabin, we found this (plus a few more of the strawberries) waiting for us! It was the beginning of the Romance Package, a gift from one of our daughters and included so many "perks" that we were still getting them the last day of the cruise. Lovely! 

That night at dinner, the ship provided us a special dessert in honor of our anniversary, which was actually that day. One of the cruise staff also gave us another bottle of wine and more strawberries near the end of the cruise.

We visited Maui for two days, spending one in Lahaina and the other in the area of Paia and surrounding countryside. The first day, we took a ride in a submarine and saw all sorts of coral and fish on the bottom of the ocean! The second day we rented a car and drove along part of the road to Hana, just looking at the gorgeous scenery. We also stopped for lunch at Mama's Fish House, highly recommended by the cruise staff; it certainly lived up to its reputation, too! We ended our meal there with this to-die-for passionfruit crème brûlée — I just wish I had the recipe.


From Maui, we cruised to the big island, spending one day in Hilo and the other in Kona. In Hilo, we had a wonderful tour that included an anthurium plantation, an orchid farm, and a coffee-grinding operation. I had no idea that anthuriums came in such a variety of colors and sizes! This isn't anywhere nearly the range of colors we saw that day.


From there we went to the orchid farm, which made me wish I had a place to have a few orchids here at home, but it's just not possible with the space we have (or don't have!). The orchids we saw ranged from tiny to large, and they were in all colors of the rainbow, some with amazing scents — even chocolate!

Our last stop that day was at the coffee place, where we had an explanation of how coffee is readied for sale and information about different types. This place had lovely landscaping, utilizing a wide variety of the plants that grow so readily in the Hawaiian climate, from bananas to all sorts of flowers and anything else you could think of.

However, one of the things some of the islands have to contend with is an overpopulation of — of all things! — chickens. They're everywhere, thanks to hurricanes freeing them from their coops over the years. They now wander wild almost everywhere, but the owner of the coffee place kept his as pets. LOL!

Our last half-day in Kauai (we had to leave port by about 1:00 PM), DH and I mostly just relaxed. Then there was the trip back to Honolulu, where we docked the next morning and disembarked. Rather than go directly to the airport, we opted for a trip to Pearl Harbor, where we only had time to see the USS Arizona Memorial and unfortunately had to skip the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin. Still, it was a very moving experience, and the site has been expanded and improved a lot since our first visit there almost 35 years ago.

Of course, we saw and did a lot more than what I have room to tell you about here! I did buy a couple of little souvenirs, though:

This particular batik is sold only in one quilt shop in the world, so I had to pick some up, along with a little pattern for a plumeria. The yarn was in another shop we accidentally ran across, and it's a lovely baby alpaca. The little stitch markers were hand made by the owner of the yarn shop.

Now I'll leave you with a couple of photos of other things we saw during the trip. :)
Waimea Canyon

Blow Hole

Another orchid