Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two Hours With A Stranger

I'm just zooming along with this needlepoint stuff! I actually finished this ornament in a reasonable amount of time. I guess getting stuck on a tarmac in Atlanta for two hours, with nothing else to do helped.

A-ha! Another reason to have a real book with you when traveling!! The captain pulled the airplane out from the building and got a warning light that the brakes were malfunctioning. Since we were no longer at the gate, no one was allowed to use their mechanical devices (anything with an ON/OFF switch). Not only did I have a book to read... while others could not use their eBook... but I had this needlepoint in my bag to finish.

Since the guy sitting next to me had nothing to do, I decided to stitch while he talked. Interesting fella!!! He flew into Atlanta from NJ for only one day. He hadn't seen his girlfriend in a few weeks... she was flying into Atlanta from Costa Rica... so he flew in to surprise her and take her out to dinner!!! Wow!!! Speak about a display of affection!!! Be still my beating heart!!!

Anyway... any time I look at this piece I will remember this guy and how sweet he was to make such a grand gesture... AND to tell me about it. He's such a 'peach'. Now... tell me... where can I find a guy like that?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Finally Finished!!!

A few years ago I took a trip to Hilton Head, SC and was so excited to see the Harbour Light... the iconic symbol of Sea Pines.

Imagine my surprise when I learned the lighthouse was not an old relic who helped navigate war ships at sea. There was never a light house keeper, or any stories of maintaining the light during storms. No, this lighthouse was built with private funding, started in 1969 and finished in 1970.

I'll admit, I was disappointed. I have seen so many 'real' lighthouses up and down the coast... and after paying a small fee to even enter the area, I was really taken aback when they charged yet another fee to walk to the top of the lighthouse to look out over the shops. Actually... I laughed. It was ridiculous!

Later that week I was in a  needlepoint shop searching for a canvas that was local to the area. I settled on the Harbour Town Lighthouse as a reminder of how funny I thought the whole thing was. When I got home I tucked it away to do 'later'.

So much happened since that day... including selling most of my possessions and packing up the rest to move. I honestly thought I lost the canvas in the move. I was bummed.

A few months ago I unearthed it... and let out a cheer! Whoop! I brought it along with me on my trip south and worked diligently until it was finished. I finished it TONIGHT!!! Take a look!

If you look very, very close you will notice I used beads on the star, and sparkly thread to help make the lighthouse shine. Now I have to finish it off into a pillow.

Now that THAT'S done... I'm on to my next project.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I-Scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!

I wanted to become proficient at painting birthday cards with birthday cakes on them... but after only painting a few cards I got bored... so I reverted back to my comfort zone. Birthday candles and Balloons were the designs that flowed freely from my brush.

Until I got bored... Again.

I had to ask myself... what do I think of when I think of birthdays??? The answer was clear as day...


So I put my mind on cruise control and let the scoops flow off my brush. Maybe it was just that it was hot outside... but I think I did a pretty good job.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Quilt Challenge

It's time to do something I have NEVER done before... enter a QUILT CHALLENGE!

The New York City Metro Modern Quilt Guild (say THAT three times fast) AKA... NYC MOD
is hosting a Quilt Challenge using the traditional block Double Wedding Ring. The challenge is affectionately called... DWR Challenge and you can find the 'rules' HERE.

Housesitting in the south for the past month has left me at a bit of a disadvantage. All of my tools, fabric stash and supplies are back home... but I didn't let that deter me from starting the challenge. As a matter of fact... it forced me to search out quilt shops in an area I wasn't familiar with. Oh SHUCKS!!!

It took three shops to find my mecca. The first two shops were great... but focused more on traditional quilting like Civil War fabrics and such. Totally not me. The third shop was the charm!

From the moment I checked out their website I knew I had found my 'happy place'. The actual store is just as thrilling!  Intown Quilters located in Decatur, GA carry an entire section of my beloved designer Kaffe Fassett... and if that alone wasn't enough to get my creative juices flowing... then the adjoining wall displaying almost every Kona Cotton color certainly had me doing cartwheels!!

In my dreams... if I ever owned a quilt shop...this is EXACTLY the one I would have. Bright, cherry, full of fun fabrics... and a wonderful staff!

So... I'm drooling all over the Kaffe Fassett fabrics and the light bulb pops on... I'll make the Double Wedding Ring Challenge out of Kaffe's fabric!!! Yes!!!! Mixing traditional blocks with new ideas is what Modern Quilting is all about!!!

I rushed back to the house and just couldn't go to sleep (or eat) until I cut out my blocks. It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to position the design in the same manner as what was in my head. Finally by midnight I was happy with the design. Now... to sew it all together.

Here is the beginning of the layout.

A bit bright huh! Well... that's Kaffe for you. 

Keep an eye on this site for updates. There are three different categories for the challenge and I intend to submit in each of them. I'll post pictures as I move along.

You can read the original post on my other blog... Deb Hathaway.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Painting 'loosey goosey'

I woke up yesterday with the urge to dust off my watercolor paints, shake out my brushes and hunt down some watercolor paper... and paint the day away. I'm pretty excited about the results.

Once I started I easily got in the 'zone'.

Normally I am very controlled and tight with my art work. It takes me a lot to loosen up. My sister-in-law once advised to drink a glass of wine before I started to paint. It was too early in the morning to drink... so I decided to think 'painterly' and just let the paint flow.

I have alway drooled at how easy other artists made it look. A dab of color here, a drawn line there and ta-dah... a beautiful painting. I struggle to make my art look so carefree. I find I grip the brush too tight, get hunched up too close to my work and pre think every stroke I make. If I play some classical music and not think about what I'm doing, the art paints itself.

Go ahead... give it a try!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013


Sometimes I worry about my sanity. No, seriously, I do!! As I get older I find it more difficult to concentrate on one specific thing. My brain cells have either decided it's time to take a well deserved vacation, or they are dying off one by one.

Here's a case in point...

I sew as easily as most people breathe. At the tender age of twelve my mom taught me to sew an A-Line skirt. I remember my excitement at the fabric store. Madras plaid was all the fashion back then... patchwork madras to be exact! I loved the colors, the style, the feel of the cotton... So that was my first fabric choice.

When we got home, my mom took the pattern out of the paper envelope, explained the grain line markings on the pattern... and the grain lines of the fabric... then left me alone! Completely alone... to learn by myself!! This skirt had a lining, a zipper, and a waistband... and I had never sewn before! ACK!!! Whenever I would go to her and ask a question I was told... "Read the pattern. What does it tell you to do?"

I should also mention... my mom used to teach beginning sewing for The Singer Company. Silly me to have thought I had an inside scoop. Mom was of the belief that any ninny who could read, could also learn to sew... without her help. So... with scissors in hand, and a sewing machine at the ready... I taught myself to sew by reading the McCall's pattern.

I hit a snag when I had to line the skirt. We didn't purchase any fabric for that. So... cautiously I interrupted my mom's reading and asked about that little problem. Without saying a word, she got up from her chair and walked down the hall to the linen closet where she pulled out an old white bed sheet and said, "Here, use this", as she held it out towards me.

In the end... Mom helped with the zipper when she saw me struggle. Now, as an adult I realize she wasn't really reading at all, but keeping a watchful eye on my progress... and teaching me I could do anything I wanted in life if I put my mind to it. Ah... sewing as a life lesson... who knew???

Nothing stopped me after that. I sewed all my own clothes. Dresses, shirts, vests, culottes (remember those?), slacks and more. I would use the money from my baby sitting jobs to purchase my fabric. That old black Singer just kept humming. When I earned my first REAL paycheck from my first ever REAL job at the age of 16, I purchased my very own Singer!!! It zig-zagged... and did button holes!!!

Forty Six years later and I am still going strong. I no longer sew clothes... except an occasional semi-formal dress for my daughter, sticking mostly to quilts and curtains.

Any way... the point being... I can sew... and I do it without even thinking. So imagine my panic a few weeks ago when I sat down at the machine and KNEW I had to put the presser foot down, but didn't know HOW????

My mind was BLANK!!! I knew it had to go down in order to form a stitch. I knew there was a lever to make that happen. But I didn't know where the stupid lever WAS. I perched my glasses up on my head, scrunched down as close to the presser foot as I could, and stared intently at the mechanism. The lever had to be here somewhere... right??? I looked and looked, but couldn't find it.

"This is ridiculous", I said to no one.

With that... I stood up and arched my aching back. Walked to the kitchen and got a sip of water. Shook my head a few times and sighed. Went back to the sewing machine, sat down, and automatically my right hand flipped the lever and the presser foot went down. Ta-Dah!!! Obviously I was thinking 'too hard' before.

Yesterday one of my daughters was getting on my case for repeating stories I apparently have already related. SIGH! My mind has gone to mush. This little family scene reminded me of an essay I read on Facebook... something about a letter from an older mother to her daughter. I soooooo wanted to repeat it my daughter, but didn't know how it began. Through the super powers of Google, I was able to track it down. So... just in time for Mother's Day I give you...

The Found Essay: Letter from a Mother to a Daughter*

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago.” Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way. Remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair, and dealing with life’s issues every day. The day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient, or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad—just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you, my darling daughter.”
Although I am not as old as the mother in this essay... yet... it was still worth sharing with my daughter now.  I hope I am still on this Earth to have to remind her again when it's time.
I am thankful I had read this before my mom passed away earlier this year. It reminded me I need to slow down and be more patient with her... that getting old is rough for everyone... and that a little understanding goes a very long way.

So... I'm getting old, and forgetful. Oh well... it's better than the alternative! To quote Mark Twain...
"Do not complain about getting old. It is a privilege denied to many."

I'm not complaining!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you lucky women with kids!!! I have yet to find a more happy, loving, and satisfying position in life than being a MOM!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Donation Quilts

Another donation quilt has left the building. Of all the quilts I have sewn in my life… I think this one is my favorite by far. It was difficult to give away, but I know the family who receives it will also love it. Besides, I can always sew another one.

Someone asked me the other day, “Why are you donating these quilts? What do you get out of it?”

I’ll tell you… One morning after Hurricane Sandy hit my neighbors at the Jersey Shore, a light bulb went on over my head. For YEARS I have been collecting (OK, hoarding is more like it) quilting fabric. Every time I went into a store I walked out with a yard (or two, or more) of sumptuous cotton in every color of the rainbow. This particular morning, as I was thinking about all those families that have lost EVERYTHING… I thought of my fabric stash.

With the light bulb at first flickering… then building into a bright, blinding light… I realized that THIS is what I have been waiting for. This exact moment!!! I would use my stash of beloved fabrics to sew quilts for these families. I would wrap them up in warmth while giving them a new possession to begin gathering their life back into somewhat of order.

AAAAHHHHHH! I heard Angels sings… REALLY… I did!!!

I design, measure, cut, piece, sew, quilt and bind each blanket myself. Using only top quality fabrics and batting… and thread all the way from Italy!! I think of the families while I sew. I don’t know them personally, but I imagine their surprise when receiving them.

All of these quilts are given anonymously. I try to drop them off when no one will see me, or mail them from some obscure place. Why?? The answer is simple… I don’t want any thanks, or awkward moments. I sew, I give… it’s a simple system.

As a member of The Quilt Alliance I have to admit, not sewing a label on the quilt makes me cringe a little. The Quilt Alliance is a non-profit organization, which promotes the history of quilts and their makers. They are indexing and interviewing quilt makers for posterity. Sorry Quilt Alliance… the history of these quilts will remain a mystery.

To answer the question, “What do I get out of it?”…  That’s easy…  I get a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart the size of Texas. I am thrilled beyond belief to be able to do this and bring joy to families who have endured so much hardship. If you have ever slept under a quilt, or snuggled in one when you were not feeling well... then you know that the quilt is not really what I'm giving these families. I'm actually giving them a hug and the peace of mind that 'everything will work out just fine'. Comfort... in my own little way I am giving them comfort. Well... at least that is what I HOPE I'm doing!!!

I would also like to take a moment to thank the many people who have donated 'for the cause'. Individuals have donated fabric, quilts shops have given me discounts, and 50% off coupons have kept the cost of batting at a reasonable level. Without the help of others (who wish to remain anonymous also) I couldn't do what I do. So... THANK  YOU from the bottom of my heart!!

If YOU know a family that would benefit from one of these quilts... please drop me a line. I have fabric by the yards just waiting to be sewn!!! 

As I mentioned… I do this anonymously. I don’t mind you all knowing I do this and who I am… but let’s not spoil the intrigue for the families… OK? If you hear of someone you know getting one of these quilts, I hope you will not give me away :-) Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To STARCH... or not? A quilter's dilemma

My basic philosophy of life is... Don't try to fix what isn't broken... Do no harm... Have compassion for others... and don't starch your fabric.

Although I have read many articles on the joys of spraying liquid starch on fabric and ironing the daylights out of it so when quilting you get perfectly matched seams... I have resisted the urge, allowing my quilts to have that 'au naturale' look and feeling. I am an organic  seamstress and could care less if my seams match up or not. Well... at least in quilting. My original plan is to have every seam meet up perfectly with its adjoining seam... but if it doesn't end up that way... even though I have tried my best... I don't sweat it. I just figure the fabric had a mind of its own and did whatever the universe told it to.

My mom always taught me when sewing a garment, you should be able to wear the item inside-out and have it look just as nice. Meaning... use the correct interfacing, finish off all of your seams, have no threads hanging, and be proud of your work. I have always followed that rule... when sewing clothing. However, quilts are supposed to be soft and cuddly... in my opinion. Who wants to wrap up in a stiff blanket on a chilly night?

Well... it's a new age... and MODERN QUILTING is taking the quilt world by storm! Bold, clear, colors surrounded by lots of grays and white in simplistic designs with geometric sewing lines are all the rage. In order to get the 'crisp as a green apple' look... the old fashioned spray starch is back on the ironing boards of quilters around the world. Today I have joined the fray.

Working on yet another 'donation quilt'... I decided to work with only solid color fabrics. I chose some clear, bright cottons, and added a gray and a white for balance. I love the way it looks!!!

Pressing the sewn blocks, and then cutting them into strips left them a little too limp to sew together precisely. Remembering the articles about spray starch, I hunted my old can down. I knew I had it somewhere... but where? Ah... hiding in the way back of the laundry closet. I plucked it from the shelf... shook it up... and sprayed away.

ICK!! It came out in a solid stream. Oh brother, that's not good. I twisted the little top off, poked around the opening with a needle for a while, ran it under a stream of warm water, and tried again. Eh... not perfect, but certainly better. I had forgotten how much I loved the smell of starch. All the candle companies try to duplicate the scent and call it Clean Cotton. Snnniiiffff.... Ah!

So... happily I spray each piece and iron the fabric block into submission. My seams are perfect, the quilt smells nice and it is crisp as a spring morning. YIKES! My wood floors are covered in the over spray and are as slick as an ice skating rink. NOW I remember why starching wasn't a favorite habit of mine. Once I'm finished starching, I have to throw the ironing board cover into the wash... and scrub the floor clean. It's beginning to be another version of The Cat in the Hat... with the pink stuff getting every where.

Oh well... the quilt looks FABULOUS... and wasn't that the goal all along?

Currently I have two quilts on my machines. One is due on Friday... and is right on track. The other was due months ago. Thinking I was smart and choosing a design using scrappy fabrics... it ended up being a nightmare! Taking so much longer than I planned to pull out the fabrics and cut them all to the proper size. What was I thinking???  To stay on track I have had to put that project aside time and time again as I kept all the others on schedule. Sigh.

As is true with all things... it will all get done in good time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sea Glass and Pancakes... Monday Morning

There's something magical about glass that has been sandblasted and smoothed by mother nature. Originally sea glass was the product of sunken ships traveling between exotic places and either pirated or hit a patch of bad luck or a storm. Today our glass is mostly discarded beer and soda bottles. No matter... it's just as beautiful.

This morning I checked the low tide table and cross matched it with the expected sunrise. Eureka! The PERFECT STORM! Well... for me any way. I have Monday's off from watching my elderly ladies, low tide was scheduled for 5:45AM, the wind has been strong for a few days, there was a recent storm in the area, and sunrise was at a respectable hour... 6:16AM. I grabbed my camera and a Ziplock bag... and headed out to the beach.

Just look at my BOUNTY!!! I am especially thrilled with the dark blue one!!

Beach-combing is great exercise. So much bending and standing helps to 'whittle the middle', not to mention tightening up the glutes. Walking in the sand works the legs and heart. The sound of the ocean relaxes the tight muscles... especially in the face, neck, and shoulders... and does wonders for your outlook on life. Mother Nature's natural beauty salon moisturizes the skin and whips your hair into the fashionable 'beach look' without spending a dime. What more could you ask for???

I was so focussed on spying sea glass that I stumbled... literally... on this gnarled root. Thank heaven I had my camera with me... I couldn't get enough of this thing. If I were strong enough I would have hauled it home and placed a glass top on it to serve as a coffee table. Alas... I couldn't get it to budge.

Another 'water feature' caught my attention as I followed the sound of continuous water flowing. In the distance I caught a glimpse of a dam creating a waterfall. Stunning!!! Obviously I am attracted to old, beat up things... I couldn't take my eyes off the weathered wood. Each comes to it's own jagged point, but one in particular had a knot hole that was so much harder than the rest of the plank and the water couldn't wear it down. If you look very close you can see it on the largest plank.

Looking back towards the ocean I spotted two seagulls snuggling... oh how cute!! Awwwww...!

So... that was my morning. I was home by 9:30... cooked pancakes for breakfast... and began my day.

How was YOUR Monday morning???

Make it a GREAT week!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So... What Have I Been Up to Lately?

Just before I went away to Arizona, I finished 2 baby quilts and got them in the mail. I didn't post about them as they were gifts for a baby shower on April 7th... for twin girls. Now that it is a few days past the 7th I can finally share them with you.

Both quilts were exactly the same on the front and bound with the same print fabric... although the backs were different... one was backed with the mottled aqua fabric and the other with the pink polka dot. 

Another fun thing I did before I left... was make envelopes out of a craft magazine and gifted them to a friend who I knew would really appreciate them. Making envelopes are super simple. I have templates I have used for years... or you can use an envelope you already have, just carefully pull it apart and trace around it.

Once you have cut them out, use double sided tape to close the sides, and 'peel and stick' tape for the flap. Not only do the postmen get a kick out of them, but the recipient too!

While in Sedona I took a day to hang out at the condo and 'play'. I brought my watercolors and had all the best intentions to paint the scene outside my balcony, but instead spent HOURS mixing my paints to match the natural colors of the Red Rocks. I just couldn't get it right... until I added the smallest dab of Cobalt Blue... Ta-Dah... PERFECT!

I put the paints away and pulled out my fabric. I brought along a project that had to be completed by the end of April... but instead of working on it, I made something else.

One evening while sitting at the bar, I struck up a conversation with a local couple. They told me so may places to go, and things to see off the beaten path and away from the tourists. To thank them, I made a little 5" square mini quilt... all sewn by hand.

I had so much fun I decided to make another one... this time 'beach themed'... since I am a Jersey Girl at heart.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ballooning Over Sedona

What an experience!!! I can honestly say for the first time in my life, “I went wherever the wind blew me.” In sailing you can always get where you want to go. The most asked question of all time when people find out I sail is... “When the wind is blowing toward you... how to do you go that way?” The answer of course is... “Tacking. You zig zag your way in that direction as opposed to going straight. Eventually you get to where you want.”

There is no 'zig-zagging' in ballooning. Only UP... and DOWN... catching wind currents as you go. Literally... you go where the wind wants to take you. The wind this morning blew me North-East. If I had my way I would rather have gone North-West more towards the red rock mountains... but the wind gypsies didn't ask me. However, my view of the Coconino National Forest was just as breathtaking... and certainly NOT disappointing.

It was so calm this morning... I was in flight for about 2 hours, yet only travelled about 3 miles. I can walk faster than that on dry land. Six balloons from the same company went up at the same time... and six balloons pretty much came down at the same time... although in different places.

The two man crew were so skilled they didn't even have to talk to one another to get the balloon ready for flight. A slight nod of the head, a look, a hand signal... and the next thing you knew the balloon was filling with air. A pull on the handle to release the flame... and the balloon was standing straight up. Tethered to the bumper of the chase van, the balloon didn't leave without us.

Climbing in the basket was the most difficult part for some of the travelers. One elderly woman in our group had a recent hip replacement and needed help... both in and out. The basket held a total of 7 of us... Six riders and one pilot, Doug. It was a bit too crowded for me. One less person would have made the trip much more pleasant. When I win the lottery I think I would like to go again... but for a personal flight... just the pilot, me, and a significant other.

We had a very skilled and soft landing. Doug instructed us to brace ourselves and be ready to bounce... but ground crew Matt grabbed the landing line and slowly brought us down while Doug hit the fuel just enough to keep us inches off the ground. PERFECT!

Once the balloon was packed and basket secured on the trailer again, we all rallied to a clearing in the dessert and shared a breakfast of strawberries with crème fraiche, sweet rolls, and mimosas (Champagne and OJ)! Certificates of flight were handed out stating I went up in the balloon named 'Estrella'... meaning STAR in Spanish. Who knew??

A fabulous time was had by all... especially me!

I only have two more things to do on my BUCKET LIST.
  1. Visit Tuscany, Italy
  2. Jump out of an airplane.
    Number 2 will be satisfied next summer with OTHS Class of '72 alumni. So... who wants to go to Italy with me???

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morning in Sedona

My goal this morning was to catch the sunrise over the valley. Since I am still on East Coast time that was easy. I was dressed and out the door by 6:00AM... with sunrise projected for 6:16AM I was right on time. I drove out to Airport Road where I was told all the locals go to marvel at the awakening of the mountains.

At first I was a little disappointed, as the view of the mountains were no different than the one I have out my own window... plus I was further away. However... as the sun peaked over the eastern sky and rose above the mountains on that side the magic began to happen.

A small gathering of us... about 6 people... held our breath as the first rays shined on the highest peak. Minute by minute the scenery changed as more and more of the valley seemed lit from within. Layer by layer the earth seemed to be waking... the colors of the red rocks began to come alive. From my vantage point I could see the entire valley... not just the cliffs outside my window. It was such an awesome experience!!

If you look closely at the picture above you will see the first rays hit the right side of the tallest peak.

In the distance we could faintly hear the loud speakers of the sunrise service being held a few miles down the road. The six of us looked at each other and decided we were all in the right place at the right time. Easter morning... diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs, experiencing the waking of the valley together.

Whenever 2 or more are gathered in his name... there is love.

Happy Easter everyone!!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Montezuma, Tuzigoot, and Jerome - AZ

For my last birthday my daughter and son-in-law gave me an America The Beautiful park pass. It allows me free entry into all of the National Parks. Well... I dusted that baby off and made good use of it today. I spent the morning at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot (pronounced toozie-goo). Montezuma Castle was awesome! Stories passed down through the generations of local Hopi indians... many of whom report they are direct descendants of the earlier inhabitants who left in 1425... is the only history experts have of this place.

Archeologists have discovered this tribe were salt miners and farmers. Apparently pottery was not their strong suit... however trading their salt for pottery gave them the most beautiful pottery collection ever. The most interesting find were fossil bones of a macaw... a bird that came from Mexico... leading historians to the conclusion that even traders all the way from Mexico came to trade for salt.

The castle is built out of limestone, clay and mud. Harsh weather would erode the front. To protect it, the women would gather clay from the river and apply a fresh coat every 3 years or so. The process still continues today, using only clay and supplies found in the area... just like the indians did many generations ago... explaining the different coloring on the building.

This castle... or living community reminded me so much of Acrosanti that I visited the day before. The indian families who lived in Montezuma built their home on a south facing mountain to allow for passive solar heating in the winter, and shade in the summer. The same is true of Acrosanti. The only real difference being the indians built their home into a mountain, Paolo Soleri is creating his own mountain with cement.

Next I traveled to Jerome... an honest to goodness ghost town. I really wished someone else was driving up the twisty, curvy, steep mountain road. Not because I was scared... no... because I wanted to look at the breath taking scenery and snap a few photos. I just couldn't do both at the same time... and not careen off the mountain. My ears kept popping as I ascended 5,000 feet.

I was told I just HAD to go to Jerome, that I would LOVE it. Well... I liked it well enough, but didn't LOVE it. Yes, it was quirky... yes it has it's own 'attitude'... yes it was 'artsy' and so glad I went... but I was disappointed with how many shops sold things made in other countries that they were trying to pawn off as 'local'. Also... jewelry was a big item. I watched as guy after guy stood by as the female tried on piece after piece of turquoise jewel to find the 'perfect' item her sweetie would have to shell out plenty of wampum for. This scene was repeated store after store after store. I don't know... maybe it's me... but I don't define that as fun.

To me... people watching was so much more fun. Oh how I wish I knew someone with a motorcycle. The weather was beautiful, the scenery fabulous. I was so jealous of the couples riding up and around the mountain roads just enjoying the day. I got the biggest kick spotting old VW Beetles, rusty Ford Flatbed Trucks, jalopies and a turquoise painted motorcycle with a side car delivering pizzas!

Jerome is an old copper mining town. Saloons and brothels were the mainstay businesses 'back in the day'. Many colorful stories abound... and one particular store aptly named “Store of Joy” caters to the history of the local brothels. Now THAT was a store which caught my interest. When the mines dried up, so did the town, leaving it vacant. About 100 locals remained and re-invented the town as a 'ghost town'... relaying and embellishing stories from the past.

The town is built on the side of a mountain with a 30 degree incline. Over time gravity pulled quite a few of the buildings down... including the town jail... much to the cheers of the prisoners!!

Late in the afternoon I headed to Sedona... up historic highway 89A. So far all I have seen as far as scenery goes is brown and tan with dots of green mountains. All of a sudden as I look into the distance is... HOLY COW... the most gorgeous mountains striped in red!!! SPECTACULAR!!! They are far off in the distance and hiding behind a sheer film of haze... but their majestic beauty shines through. I can't wait to get there!!! Do I hear angels singing???

Pictures will have to come later... I can't get this extremely S-L-O-W internet connection to upload them. UGH!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Budding Photographer - Brooks

Here is what you get when you hand your camera over to a 3 year old...

                                                    His baby sister with hair flying!!

                                                      Easter eggs dyed by his big sister.

                                                          My purse on the counter.

                                        His most favorite toy... a police SUV with LIGHTS!

                                                            Mom and Auntie's feet!

                                                         A self portrait... of course!!

                                                             And cartoons on TV.

Ah... to see the world through the eyes of a three year old!! Not bad eh!!

Excuse me as I wash the yogurt and finger prints off my camera :-)

On The Road Again... Arizona

The day has finally arrived!! I'm on my way to Sedona, Arizona! I am BEYOND excited!

Packing for this trip was a major issue... and it had NOTHING to do with clothes. Being an artsy kind of nerd, and thinking I am a budding Ansel Adams I decided I wanted to pack my digital SLR and tri-pod... not thinking for one moment I wouldn't be allowed to bring the tri-pod on board the plane. Once that little faux pas was brought to my attention, I had to RE-PACK everything. The problem was using such a large suitcase to fit the tri-pod and then filling it with stuff so things wouldn't rattle around.

I pride myself on being a light packer. Knowing I will have the use of a washer and dryer, I only pack a few things and wear them over and over. I plan carefully so I only have to wear one pair of shoes and then pack my flip flops. A toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, mascara, hair brush, and Advil are the only items in my makeup bag. That's it. This all normally fits in my small carry on luggage. Now, with the tri-pod and the large suitcase, I have so much empty space to fill.

With only 2 hours of sleep under my belt ( I was so excited I couldn't sleep) I was up and running at 4:15AM. On board my 7:10AM flight out of Philly without a hitch. Our plane was on the runway, in the 'take off' conga line, when instead of gaining speed to lift off, the captain announced we had to pull out of line and be de-iced.

In all my years of flying, even in the winter I never remember having to be de-iced so close to take off. Since I had a seat on the wing I got the perfect view. There were these guys hanging out in capsules with steam nozzles on the front... suspended in the air from long octopus arms. They maneuvered over the wings and steamed the ice off. I was so enthralled I forgot to grab my camera and take a picture until they were finished. Darn!

Five hours later... I landed in Phoenix, Arizona! Grabbed my rental car and was off to visit family.

It was wonderful to visit with my niece Jen Shank!!! I haven't seen her in years so we had MUCH to talk about. The kids were adorable, funny, and cute. I had forgotten what it was like to have three kids all demanding my attention... at the same time. Sadly I didn't get to spend much time with her hubby... as he had to work, but dining on their patio by candle light was a special treat and gave us time to chat.

Have you ever heard of a Javelina??? Me either. It's a local rodent around here. They travel in packs and are the size of a pig. They eat all kinds of plants and chase after my niece when she is running in the morning. EEEKKK! I'd run too if they were chasing me!!!

The air is so DRY here I feel as if all the moisture in my body is being sucked out of me. I drink water constantly, apply moisturizer 10 times a day, and can't seem to ever have enough chap stick on my parched lips. I'm a Jersey Girl after all and literally feel like a fish out of water.

After leaving Jen's... I headed north towards Sedona. First stop... a nail salon for a manicure and pedicure... and a DEEP moisturizing!!!! Hey... I'm on vacation... time to treat myself. This place also gives a chair massage included with the manicure... ah... my neck, shoulders, and back really loved that surprise.

Next stop... Arcosanti. I can already hear you ask, “Arcosanti???” One of Frank Lloyd Wright's students, Paolo Soleri designed an experimental living community. His belief that urban sprawl and cars are going to be the demise of Earth and living as we know it... has designed a community where 5,000 people can live in the space of a half a mile without having to drive. Arcosanti is putting this theory to the test. So far a hundred or so people live here. More information can be found HERE.

In as much as I agree with the theory of the way the buildings are being designed, using passive solar energy, multi use designing as in using roof tops for seating and gardening, being 'one' with nature, and making a community self sufficient... I DON'T agree with packing so many people into a small space and think everyone will live harmoniously. Great idea on paper, but not in reality. It was certainly a 'must see' and was glad I stopped for the tour. BTW... if you plan to visit Arcosanti, make sure your shocks are in good shape... it's a long drive on a very bumpy dirt road to get there.

I finally grabbed a hotel room in Camp Verde, Arizona. For dinner I found an old local tavern, The Horn which had a colorful history and ate a yummy dinner... and treated myself to PECAN PIE for dessert. I'm so spoiled!

The names of the towns and streets make me laugh. Horsethief basin, Finnie Flat Road, Carefree, and more. I'm sure if people came to my area they would say the same thing... Wickopecko Drive, Sunset, Cold Indian Springs.

I am in AWE of the scenery around here. The mesas and plateaus are beautiful. The cactus and wildflowers are unique. It is lovely to visit... but there is no place like home. I miss the lake, the ocean, the colors green and blue. Everything here is tan, beige, or brown. If I had to live here, I would paint my house blue, just to be different :-)

The picture above was taken at Acrosanti. The grass and olive trees were planted by the community. The mesa you see in the background is basically what the Arizona view is like... 360 degrees.

Next on my list... Jerome, AZ... a real ghost town!! Not to mention 'artsy'. Then I finally get to check in at my condo in Sedona for the week. The adventure continues!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I have made a career move and need to use my other site... for my professional writing website. So I have moved back here to post all of my fun personal blogs about my current projects and family celebrations. Woo! Hoo!

When I began this blog site a few years back I really was LIVING ON AIR. I had no money, my husband had passed away, my home was foreclosed on and I had no clue where my next meal was coming from.

My... how things have changed. I moved to the Jersey Shore 2 years ago to an adorable bungalow on a lake. Things haven't gone smoothly... but life is never easy, right? I at least can live within my means, and I actually have a food budget!!!

If you are wondering what stories/articles/writing projects I am working on... click over to my other site... Deb Hathaway. If you are looking for something different to read... click over to Unique and Novel.

Now... without further rambling... here's a peek at my current WIP (Work In Progress).

Ohhhhh.... ahhhhh. Baby Quilts!!! No, I have no news to share. These are gifts. As some of you may be aware... I'm making quilts and donating them to Hurricane Sandy families. I've been a sewing demon... trying to get a bunch done before I leave for Sedona.