Wednesday, August 29, 2018


My first project when getting home was to start quilting on my Henna whole-cloth quilt.   I had finished marking it just before we left on our trip and I was ready to get started on it…..IMG_5541

I was planning to use two battings with this and was concerned about how to get it basted properly.   Many years ago I had used spray basting with great results so I pulled out the can and started basting.  In about an hour it was ready to hit the machine!!

When I first started, things were going great but as I worked further out from the center I started having trouble with my needle getting gummed up and skipping stitches!!   I kept persevering but when it got to the point that I was having to re-start about every 6 inches, I decided that I needed to chuck it and start over!!!…….ARGH!!!!!…….IMG_6397

In thinking about this, I believe that the problem was that I over-sprayed AND, with two battings, there were THREE layers of spray!!

This is really disappointing to me, but I know of some things that I wanted to do differently so now I have the chance to do it!!

For the first tracing, I had borrowed a wonderful light box from a quilting friend, and I have now used this disaster as an excuse to purchase one for myself….it arrives from Amazon today!!!

Also, I am rethinking using the blue wash-out markers as they were pretty expensive and I wasn’t particularly happy with the crispness of the lines.  I did some research and read that many people have used “Crayola Ultra Clean Washable markers” with great results.  A package of Fine Point markers arrived yesterday…..IMG_6404

Today I started doing a product test with them and the first test was perfect.   I marked the lines…..IMG_6405

…..ironed them heavily and then washed them out….completely clean.

BUT, in reading the instructions it suggests that you should wash them out as soon as possible, so I am a bit concerned if I don’t get to the quilting just after I mark it.  To that, end, I have run another test and will let it sit for a time before I use them to mark.

I am actually having Rotator-Cuff surgery next Thursday so wont be quilting for a while so that should give some time for the test piece to “ferment”!!

I also realized (about 3/4 of the way thru marking) that, if I ironed freezer paper to the back of the fabric, it made the marking SO much easier and SO much more accurate.   I am looking forward to using this technique to make sure that my circles are true!!

Finally, I was a bit concerned that, when I squared up the project, I would end up cutting off the corner peacock’s head so I am going to give it a bit more room this time.

I need to re-think the two battings a bit as both were from my stash and I am not sure exactly what one of them was made from  (I really should mark them)!!   I am  thinking that I will use a fusible batting for the bottom one and that way I can just iron it on.   I need to do some research about which “fluffy” batting to use this time!!   I am thinking that I will do safety pin basting to finish out the project although I really hate to add the bulk to the piece that I am trying to push thru my machine!!

Anyway….it will be a better project this time!!!BAB29976D4507623

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Quilting with Claire…an ongoing story!!

Sometime back I posted a blog about quilting with my friend Claire. Claire is now 10 years old, and we have been quilting together for the past year. It has been fun to see her skills develop , and to see her interest in trying different things.

After making her first quilt, which I described in this blog post, she said that she wanted to make things for her family , starting with something for her twin brothers, Andrew and Noah.  She told me that they both loved animals, especially dogs , so I started looking for a pattern that would work.

When we started out, I wasn't sure if she wanted this to be a big quilt or a small one , so we started with just making 2 dogs, And she soon decided that she wanted to do funky colors rather than real colors. IMG_5020

She was happy with just the two dogs and her brothers LOVED it!!

As we had done previously, I did the measuring and cutting , and she did the sewing. At the the start of each lesson, I had her spend a few minutes with a Rotary cutter and ruler….AND a non-cuttable glove!!!IMG_5476

Next came a quilt for her other brothers, Isaac and David.  This one was a no-brainer because they are both heavily into SOCCER, so soccer balls it was.   This time we used fusible applique…..IMG_5030

….and she very patiently did all of the sewing to attach the applique’s to the background.   The end result was…..IMG_5162

Now there was just one last family quilt to make… for her Mom and Dad.   She knew immediately that she wanted to do a cross of some sort so I scoured the internet until I found a design that we could work from…..6788b578139574c9f4f9fb3b2de3ed67--beginners-quilt-quilting-patterns

We changed the dimensions a bit and she graphed it out before we started…..IMG_5334

As we were picking fabrics, I showed her how to use a “Value Finder” and she spent one afternoon checking the values on the fabrics that we had chosen…..IMG_5191

At one of our meetings, it was obvious that she wasn’t really in the mood to sew so she spent an hour designing patterns with a couple of Charm Packs that I had lying around……


This is just a FEW of the designs that she came up with!!!

But back to her Mom and Dad’s quilt…..   She did the majority of the work on this one, starting with cutting the squares, laying it out, sewing the rows together and carefully pressing each seam.  I helped her with pinning when she started joining rows and she soon learned how to “stretch” the fabric just a bit if it was needed…..IMG_5247

I have been really impressed with her machine technique.   She has become more proficient with every project that we have done.

Like many of us, quilting is her least favorite thing to do but she persevered with this one and did a fantastic job….IMG_5373

I did the final task of adding the binding while she colored this wonderful reminder for my studio….. IMG_5380

The final quilt was great…..IMG_5377

….and we are now onto a new quilt using some jungle prints that she found in my stash….IMG_5481

One of the fun things about Claire is that she doesn’t want to make these quilts for herself!!   Except for the very first one, she has found a recipient for all of them and now she is talking about making them for one of our local children’s ministries……

……sounds like a quilter to me!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Let’s finish this up!!!

Since we have been back home for 2 days that  means that it is time to finish up this trip AND this blog

Our last 10 days in China were fairly quiet.  We enjoyed several relaxing days in Kunming after the Dali debacle, although I caught a cold and didn’t feel wonderful.   We had ideas to do a bit of sightseeing while we were relaxing, but the weather did not cooperate so we mostly stayed inside, although we did enjoy a morning of shopping at a local Antique market.IMG_6282

We bought a few fun pieces but our favorite was this metal monstrosity….


We stood in the shop looking at it for a long time and finally the shop keeper picked it up and indicated that it was a pipe!!!   Well, it had to come home with us!!

On Sunday we flew to Beijing for Michael to do his last work session.  That evening, his hosts took us to a “traditional” hot pot restaurant that used Copper pots with coals in the center to heat the water…..IMG_6306

The menu was a huge book and JiangFeng and Chaoqun spent several minutes trying to decide exactly what we would cook in our hot pot…..IMG_6302

….but eventually they decided and the food started to arrive.   First came thin sliced meat…..


….and trays of mushrooms and greens…..IMG_6320

All of these were put into the pot to cook……IMG_6322and then “chop-sticked” out, dipped in a Sesame sauce and happily eaten!!  It was a fun meal and the one mile walk back to the hotel was good for our swollen tummies!!

Unfortunately Michael woke up very sick the next morning….probably from the food he ate on the plane to Beijing.  We spent a tense Monday with me force feeding him crackers (1/4 at a time) every 15 minutes.   The people at the Beijing Forestry University were super sweet and told him to take all of Tuesday off as well!!  So, since he had yet to do any work for them, we changed our plans for the end of the week and stayed an extra day with them.   On Wednesday he was able to spend the entire day at the University and the day was celebrated in the usual way…..a banquet for all the dignitaries…..IMG_6370

I spent all that day in our room working on a hand-work project that I have been enjoying!! 

On Thursday we moved to the Grand Hyatt in downtown Beijing and spent our last two days in sheer comfort…..IMG_1932

The only time that we left the hotel was to do a bit of shopping at the Beijing Pearl Market, once again visiting Lynn’s shop on the 4th floor, coming out with full shopping bags and empty wallets.

There were two or three “quilty” ideas that caught my eye at our Beijing hotels.   The first was a light in the elevator…..IMG_6333

When I first looked at it, I saw the inset circles and thought that it looked interesting.   But, when I looked again, I realized that the circles were not just lines but had depth as well and that, when you looked at it from different angles, the design changed…..IMG_6332

Every time I stepped in it to travel between floors, I was madly taking photos trying to get different angles on the shots!!

I also liked these “walls” in the dining hall….IMG_1926

….and this carpet in the last hotel…..IMG_1941

We left on Saturday morning and made the 11 hours  flight into Seattle.   It was a super easy flight and went really fast.  We enjoyed a meal in Seattle and caught our last Delta flight to Atlanta.

Our sweet Son and Daughter-in-law brought our car to the airport and dropped it off so we were able to hop in and make a fast no-traffic trip home!!

Now let me say that this trip has been different from previous ones.  We had more time to ourselves and had some really fun times, but also had some near disasters.   We have learned more about how to travel in China and will be sure to follow these new “guidelines” in future travels.

Right now, we are enjoying sleeping in our own bed, showering in our own shower and eating our own food!!!

Thanks for traveling with us!!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The near and far of Xishuangbana

Friday was my last day to walk around the Gardens and I realized that I had mostly taken “tight” telephoto pictures and that I hadn’t looked at the wonderful views around me so I  replaced the telephoto with the normal lens and off I went.

While walking in the shade garden, this man-made fog came rolling in…..IMG_1878_thumb

I was instantly reminded of Harry Potter in the maze during the Tri-Wizard Tournament!!   Fortunately I didn’t turn upside down when I walked into it!!

There are some low mountains around the garden and I loved this photo from early in the morning…….IMG_2059_thumb

…and this one from after dinner one evening….


They have done a wonderful job of building structures that fit into the garden atmosphere, including this walkway across one of the ponds…..IMG_1923_thumb

I remember this pathway from our previous visit and it was still exciting to walk thru….IMG_2166_thumb

The palm trees formed a wall along the path but you could look thru the trees to see the beauty beyond….IMG_2177_thumb

I hopped into a small museum and laughed when I saw the wall outside of the building.   The vine had obviously attached itself to the painted wall and then left it’s imprint….


Of course, I kept seeing things that I wanted to take closer photos so I decided to just run a test and start switching lenses whenever I want to.   The bottom line is that it only takes about 20 seconds to switch from the telephoto lens to the regular lens.IMG_2314


In the afternoon, I completely changed direction and went out with the close-up lenses and played for a while in the shade garden next to the hotel.  These lenses are some that came as part of the camera kit so are not wonderful quality and I found them hard to focus.  I got a couple of good photos…..IMG_2436


….but was honestly happier with the ones that I took using the telephoto!!

On Saturday, we were supposed to visit a couple of Dai (a local ethnic group) villages but it rained ALL day so we decided to just spend time working at the hotel.  On Sunday we returned to Kunming to prepare for our Dali trip….but you already know THAT story!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Photograph, Work, Rest, Repeat….

Since the last two posts were a bit “angst inducing”, I will now back and finish the photography around XTBG…..

Both Wednesday and Thursday were very similar in schedule and content so both are included in this post.

Each morning started out with a walk around the garden….before all of the tourists hit!!

I am very much enamored with this Giant Lily pond…..


The big lily pads are mesmerizing to watch as they slowly drift from place to place.  Many of them don’t seem to move at all, but one was  moving around a lot….maybe it has a submerged motor on it….or a fish nibbling on the stem???

The pads are strong enough to hold a human being, as evidenced by the brisk trade that the “lily pad operators” are doing each day…..IMG_1862

You can pay to have your child sit/stand in a lily pad while you snap photos!!  They put a green plastic disk inside the pad which I assume protects it and keeps the child’s feet from going thru it.


Once the child is properly stationed, the posing begins…..IMG_1855


I sat and watched for about 30 minutes one day and it was fascinating to see the required poses…..they HAD to be required because EVERY one did the same thing!!

It was interesting to see the underside of one of the Lily pads that had been damaged and removed from the pond…..


I came back and asked Michael about these plants and he reminded me that the pads are the leaves for the plant and the blossoms and seeds form in the normal way…..


The really nice thing about going out earlier is that you are not accosted by huge crowds of people.    One of the mornings I was able to get to the Distinctive Plant Garden before ANYONE else…..IMG_6107

It was quiet and peaceful and oh so wonderful!!!   I was even able to take a photo of this special tree…..IMG_6105

I had tried the day before and there were so many people in front of it that you couldn’t really see it.  It reminded me of the Mona Lisa or the Venus De Milo in Paris…..completely surrounded!!

I did have one laugh while I was in this area….. a couple (I assume husband and wife) both walked up to exactly the same spot, aimed their phones at exactly the same scene and both started snapping away.   I could hear the shutters clicking in unison.

On normal (ie…not early) mornings, the buses lined up at the Distinctive Plant Garden were my signal to keep on walking…..IMG_1955

As the loaded buses would pass me on the road, this was my normal view….IMG_1915

These were some of my favorite flower photos for the day….IMG_2144





As I am walking around, I try to be sure that there is a smile on my face, especially as some people tend to stare at me, and I eventually get tired of smiling and my face starts to seize up.   I am continually afraid that I end up looking like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory….


In one of my wanderings I ended up in a deserted forest area and had fun taking more photos…..IMG_1970


I had numerous interactions with young people but one young boy said “hello, what is your name?”  I told him and asked his name.  He told me and I shook hand and said “nice to meet you”.   HUGE grins followed.

i loved the colors in these gorgeous leaves….IMG_1996

….and have always loved these really funky flowers…..IMG_2017

This white plant was gorgeous.  Be sure to look for the anther tips in the second photo…..IMG_2044


These last two photos were taken in a garden very close to the hotel…..IMG_2230


The  garden caretakers were out in force on one morning…..


Each of our evenings ended in a banquet of some sort.   Some were more formal…..IMG_6131

….and some leaned more toward the fun side…..IMG_6087

The heart in the center was made out of different types of Sticky Rice and was an excellent addition to the meal.

Speaking of food, I had bought a jar of Crunchy peanut butter when we first arrived in Kunming and I would have it with crackers on the days that Michael was working during the lunch hour.   I had run out of crackers so I bought another package of them at the hotel store in the Botanic garden.   When I first opened them I noticed little black seeds in the crackers and was wondering exactly what they were.   My  questioning was answered with the first bite….they were Anise seeds!!!   As long as I put the Peanut Butter on one cracker (as opposed to making a sandwich with two crackers), the peanut butter to Anise ratio was palatable and I enjoyed every bite!!

One more day from Xishuangbana to come…..

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