iN-beTweeN


back home...

I’m trying to tackle re-entry by staying active…it’s not working very well.  I really miss living outside & hiking every day!  Our woods are still infested with ticks…so no hiking there.  I’ve managed to get out & kayak with a friend once & it was nice to catch up with her & be paddling again.   And, I washed off the bike & pumped up the tires after it had be stuck in my garage for almost a year!  So, I’ve ridden the levy trail a couple of times on the bike.  I’ve also started hooping more regularly.  And the books are flying in at a super fast rate!  When I left in April, I put all the books that I was waitlisted for on hold until I returned.  Then I staggered them to come in…so, I’ve been reading a ton!  

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading:  
The Impossible Climb:  Alex Honnold, El Capitan & the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott
Run Away by Harlan Coben
The Library of Lost & Found by Phaedra Patrick
It’s Great to Suck at Something by Karen Rinaldi

Brown water & corn fields…I’m so underwhelmed with these views (I know…I’m a snarky girl when it comes to the state I live in).

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The other project that has captured my creativity & attention are costumes…4 of them.  Last January, Jill signed us up for a Sisters on the Fly Event that takes place in Gonzales, TX at the end of September.  It’s a 20th anniversary event with around 600 Sisters camping together.  It’s a week long party with tours, themed evenings, kayaking, biking & lots of fun in between!  Since this is my first Sisters-only event, I decided to go all in!  Not sure if I’ll stay in this group or not…most all the events are in campgrounds, there’s event fees, & then costumes (with some events), food, drink, etc, & I’m just not sure I can afford it.  But, for this event, I'm going to “have more fun than anyone” (the SOTF tag line) & see how it goes. The costumes are all done (Im also set for Halloween for a couple of years now) & I liked how they all turned out!

Theres Hippy Night in celebration of Woodstocks 50th year (this one is my favorite!)

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Im participating in the city parade.Ill be dancing for 13 blocks through town.  Ive always wanted to make Steampunk costume & I like how it turned out!

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My least fave is Rosie the Riveter Texas Style”…since I dont own a cowboy hat or boots, I wasnt sure what that looked like.  But, I thought I could use a polka dot skirt in my future, so it lead me to this outfit.

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Then theres prom night.  I already had this giant pumpkin dress Ive worn to a previous gala.  I love the dress & bought it for $5 several years ago at a Goodwill store.  I went through all my Mothers & Grandmothers costume jewelry & picked out pieces for this outfit & also for the steampunk costume.  That was fun going through their jewelryunlike me, they were fashionistas & always dressed nice & in style (as a testament to that fact, Im wearing my Chaco sandals with this dress).  

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I also took some stickers & made the new cooler (the one Sherry Ott gave me) mine!  Now it looks like it fits more with my ‘style’ (ha ha).

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So that about sums up my time back at home.  I was scheduled to be here for the first 3 weeks of September to take my mother in law to some medical appointments, but one of her kids decided to pop into town, so those came off my calendar.  Soooo, I’m looking at leaving a bit earlier & maybe do some exploring along the Gulf…that part of the trip is still undecided.  I also need to figure out a new way to pack my 4Runner since I’m taking the bike with me on this trip.  And the whole food thing will be different too.

And last, on a super exciting note…I was asked to be a Contributing Editor for the Girl Camper website.  Specifically, I’ll be writing an article a month on car camping.  I’m thrilled Janine Pettit is including me in her mission to help women find the confidence, information & support to camp…as she says, “there’s no wrong way to camp!”.



the gangs all here! & I’m on Cloud 9!

It’s been 3.5 years since my kids have all been together & since that time Emma was born & Claire has grown up from a baby to a little girl.  I came home a few weeks early from my trip, so excited to take a time out for this reason.  We had so much fun…played & read & cooked & crafted did all those things we love to do!  Take a peek!

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Luke was the first to arrive on Wednesday & on the same day his good friend Rose & her two boys, Arlo & Henry (Luke is their Godfather) drove in from Minnesota.  It was so much fun having them here.  The boys ended up spending the night, under Luke’s supervision & are two of the sweetest boys ever!  Rose is fantastic & loved loved loved having her here!

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Then Sara, Kevin, Claire & Emma came on Friday & oh, those wonderful little girls!  Emma has changed so much…walking, practically running & her vocabulary is growing everyday.  She says “Gki” & it just makes my heart melt.  Let the super fun begin!

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We have a fantastic independent toy store in Lawrence.  Claire has taken a virtual tour of it with me before, but it was wonderful taking her to see it in person


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Meeting new friends & getting to lick the beaters was an activity they both enjoyed

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The girls love ‘our’ costume closet

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Claire & Grandpa made a garden stone for Phyllis

Playing hair do with all my old hair clips

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Building fun at the Lawrence library!



Blue, Lukes dog, was a big hit with Emma

Claire & Luke spent a lot of time kicking the soccer ball around

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Emma & Caroline are cousins!

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Pete & Leia arrived on Monday night & while we only had one day of overlap, we made the most of it!

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Leia shares her goodies with Emma

Emma discovers the piano!  

We had a family party (Claire didn’t want to be in the photo; I was the photographer).  But I love all the smiles!

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Cousins!


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Claire, Caroline, Emma & Kate.  Claire has been so excited to see her cousins for the second time in her life

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Love this pic & really, really, really love these people!

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Pete & Luke are tournament pickle ball players so we took an afternoon to go to Chicken & Pickle in Kansas City

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Claire & I made shrinky dink book marks

A huge soccer fan!

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Phyllis close ‘other’ family, the Neverves.  We went to the Red Lyon in Lawrence (their bar) & watched the Womens World Cup match

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Jill was passing by & stopped! She’s traveling on a solo road to trip to visit her farm & see family in KC.  So glad she stopped by!

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We visited my library…Claire knows how much I treasure this special place & I loved showing it to her!


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These two have stolen my heart…forever & ever!

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What a wonderful time we all had.  I really hope it’s sooner rather than later when we’re all together again, but I’m learning to be grateful for the time & moments I have rather than always focusing on wanting more more more.

And I’m packing.  I’ve been home for nearly 3 weeks & the ‘mountains are calling & I must go”…seriously, I can hardly wait to be back in Colorado.  But, as I start my travels again in a couple of days, I’ll be leaving with a huge happy heart filled with love & memories of my family’s visit!


getting ready

I once read there are three stages to most every trip that give you the opportunity to make your trip ‘bigger’ than just the trip itself….1. being excited about planning the trip & anticipating what you’re going to experience; 2. the actual trip itself; & 3. looking back on the memories you made during the trip.  I know it’s not everyones mindset for their trips, but I love this!

So, for the past week, I’ve been enjoying the process of list making, packing, cleaning, organizing, double checking & most everything involved in getting ready for a trip. This is also the time of year that I take my Mother in law to her semi annual medical appointments.  Since I knew I’d be here to get all that taken care of, I scheduled my own annual check ups with the eye doctor, dentist & my yearly physical.  Grateful…oh so very grateful, everything has come out normal.

The first thing I did one Saturday night while Danny was at the lake, was pour myself a great beer & re-format & revise my oh-so-detailed rather over the top 5 page packing list.  It’s filled with way more stuff than I would take on one trip though, but it’s everything.  The list is divided into several sections: stuff I have to take on all trips;  then a section for flying; for road trips (including pre trip check list for the 4Runner); for camping; for backpacking; clothes for each season; for biking; for kayaking; for running (I’m no longer running, but why trash a perfectly good list…maybe I’ll take it up again); for Colorado; for Florida; for Sisters on the Fly Events; a food list & one for everything I need to charge before I leave.  I started this list about 10 years ago & have fine tuned it with each trip.  When I’m about ready to start packing, I duplicate the list on the computer, then title the list with the trip name, then begin to delete items I won’t need for that particular trip.

I’m stoked right now because I have two lists going…one for my upcoming trip to Florida for 10 days to see Claire & Emma; the other for a super long road trip beginning the third week of April. Yay! Yay! & Yay!!!!!

I finished the ‘dehydration’ project.  I don’t know how many meals or partial meals I ended up with, but it’s a gallon ziplock bag filled with dried vacuum sealed food.  My last attempt was sweet potatoes & black beans.  I’ve had to read & research more about rehydrating…not as quick as I thought it was going to be, but I’m going to give it a try.

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The last two projects I tackled were using a product called Reflectix…which  is an insulating sort of silver bubble wrap.  It’s used to insulate some things in houses & a lot of car campers cut inserts for their windows for privacy but mostly to retain heat.  They also use it to make a ‘cozy’ for their cooler or cook mug….this is why I bought it & what I made.  I’m not crazy about the annoying silver spaceship look of it, so I bought paisley patterned duck tape for the seams for the cooler & polka dot for the cook cup.  We’ll see if it was worth the small investment—both money & time— to save some ice & keep my rehydrating meals hot.  I just couldn’t stand the plain-ness of it all…so I dove into my sticker collection & added my favorite touch to the cooler!

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This year I have the Thule topper as my new addition.  I was able to put it on my old 4Runner, by myself (shortness doesn’t help when trying to attach this large box to the top of your SUV) & proceeded to drive around with it…empty…but trying to see if it felt any different.  It didn’t.  But, I have almost popped into an underground garage once, am taking note of all the  places I can not park, & buzzed under the library drop box without considering the overhang until I was on my way out…then gasped but so grateful it was high enough to accommodate my 7.5’.  Oh brother…this shouldn’t be a big deal to remember while I’m a shortie, my 4Runner + Thule, is not.

Then I started gathering all my gear in my bedroom…Yikes it always looks like way to much!  I will save packing my clothes until I get back from Florida.  So I began by separating my gear from what goes in the Thule (Danny’s camping gear, the tents, my emergency bag, an inner tube, my big backpack, & stuff I won’t need very often) & what goes in the back of the 4Runner.

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Today I cleaned the carpet & upholstery & all the surfaces in Camper with hopes to start loading it this Tuesday.  

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The trip itself is still not totally planned, but I’ve got time at the end of this week to go over maps & research my route.  It always changes anyway, but heres my trip planning process:  I make a note for each state Im planning to visit & list the places I want to try to seehikes, breweries, landmarks, National Parks, restaurants, people——everything gets put on this list.  Bolded if its a must do.  Then I put the list in order of south to north or east to west or in some crazy loop….whatever direction I’m headed so I come to the first thing on the list…then I can delete it once I go there or if I change my mind or whatever.  At least I won’t miss it by not having it on the list.  The state lists also make it easy for me to add new things as I’m traveling…so many times other travelers will suggest things that are not even on my radar…I love that!

Saturday will find me quickly packing a bag for Florida & all the fun stuff I’m taking to the girls & Sunday I board a flight to warm, sunny & green Florida.  I can’t wait to hug those precious girls!!  Excited that Danny will be joining me the following weekend for 4 days!!!

Once back I have 5 days to pack my clothes, get my haircut, a couple of other appointments to take care of, & do a pre check of Camper, then I’ll be road ready & so excited to be traveling again!!

  

spending money…Yikes!

It’s been a long winter in Kansas & I wasn’t even here for the month of January!  It’s been bitter cold, tons of snow, some crappy ice, now we’re deep in mud & it’s always kind of boring.  Our driveway is an adventure itself!  I’ve been out on a few long walks through the woods, but not many.  

One of the fun holidays I’m home for is Mardi Gras.  What’s it like to celebrate this fun-filled celebration in Kansas?  It’s a tiny celebration, but people come out annually for a little springtime fun.  There’s a very down home band & a rather random group of about 35 people that dress up, parade (on the sidewalk) up Mass Street & in & out of various business’s along the way.  The whole gang ends up at Free State Brewery, with the band perched on the stairs for about 20 minutes of Mardi Gras music.  This year, I had to “Polarize" my costume, so for the first time ever, I tore up an old one to create a new “winter” version, since it was going to be 22 degrees out that morning.  I was trying to not “add more” stuff to my life (& my costume closet), & always trying to not spend money.  I made for about $12 & ransacked everything else I had to make it.  I was happy with it in the end, borrowed Dannys green down coat to wear underneath, covered up my snowman hat (I needed something over my freezing ears!) & was pretty warm throughout the whole parade.

My friend Cheryl has been going with me for the past couple of years…we are both great partiers!  This year was no exception.  We walked in the parade…sneaking out for the last block so we could find seats at the bar & have our Hurricanes in hand for when the band & the rest of the party arrived! 

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(Thats my friend Maize back there pulling off the photobomb (right photo).  We both love to travel & she is a huge beach person!  Whats not showing in the photo is her broken armguess thats why shes not somewhere on a warm, sunny beach with her own pretty drink in hand!)

The only creative thing Ive done since last fall, is work on a salt dough hand print of Emma’s left over from when we made Christmas ornaments. I have one of Claire’s handprints when she was 2, that’s filled with doodles & hung on my wall…it makes me smile everytime I look at it.  So, I wanted to have one of Emma’s too.  It didn’t go as planned, so I tried a few different things each one seeming like a little more of a disaster than the previous try.  I made one last attempt (before I would throw it out) & ended up doodling on paper then using gesso, attached it to the handprint.  I’m good with the finished product.  Neither one of these will last forever, but for now, they make me happy!

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Similar to my pattern the past several winters, my time at home pre-spring is also my pre-travel season (need to fix that someday & find some warm nice fun place to go!)  So, I start to plan & dream & think about equipment, etc.  All those travel things I love to research & talk about.  But, I’m also the person who doesn’t always want the upgrade, more stuff (that’s never me) & I'm forever conscious of the money factor.  And, the space factorhopefully its replacing something I can get rid ofnot add to.  Ive always bought really quality gearwhich is great because it doesnt wear out very easily or very often.  Hence.my 23 year old rather outdated & heavy backpack that was my first & still is my only backpack.  However, some of my stuff is getting worn out & in need of replacing.  Last year I bought a new water bladder (remember mine leaked all last summer), a new day pack, a new rain jacket & a new pair of low hikerseverything replacing something very old. I really dont like spending a bunch of money before I ever leave for my trip!  But, YIKES!  I seem to have done it again this year!  Here goes.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0.  Ive had a little trouble with my feet last year & usually swap out my trail runners & low hikers every other day or so or change them depending on the terrain Im hiking.  But, they are both Salomon's so built pretty much the same.  Ill still take both pair with me, but really wanted to try these out & see if I can avoid any common foot issues hikers experience.  They have a huge big toe box & are a zero drop shoe.  Ive never worn that style before, but Im told I can still swap them with my Salomons, which are not zero drops. Wowthey are super light weight too.  They are one of the top three trail shoes for long distance hikers.  I only wish they had them in bright red! (But, sadly like every other active thing for women, its pink, purple or turquoise….not my taste…so, I went with black.)

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inReach Mini by Garmin.  This is the big purchase & I did a lot of research on it before I made the decision & was a little queasy before I handed over my credit card.  Years ago, Sara gave me SPOT GPS locator for keeping in touch & emergencies when cell phone service is non-existent.  I have used this so much, thank goodness not for any emergency, but it sends a pre programed message to Danny letting him know where I am—the GPS coordinates & the message that I don’t have cell service.  It gives both of us a level of comfort when Im all over the country traveling & camping by myself.  But, last year, for the first time, my SPOT had two failsin two different locations.  Customer Service told me, after the fact, that I was just in a difficult place.  Both times I was using it, all the lights that tell you have GPS & your message has gone through were lit like it all worked rightbut it didnt.  The rest of the trip, it worked fine, but we didnt know if it would.  Anytime I thought Id be out of cell range, Id call Danny, tell him where I was headed & ended all those messages with but if you dont hear from me, dont worry!  my SPOT just may not be working.  It was a little bit of stress neither one of us wanted or should have had.I pay $170 a year subscription to have the confidence the device will work when & wherever I need it to.  

So, ever since, weve been talking about what to do.  This is a fairly new product that came out last summer, but it's gotten really good reviews.  It uses a different satellite network than SPOT.  This tiny lightweight device can do a whole lot--including live texting. Im going to buy the basic package, because I dont need all the electronic bells & whistles, but even the basic package has some other nice options I will use.  And, I can turn the service on & off, so I wont have to pay for the months Im just sitting here at home or when Im traveling somewhere I dont need it.  With all that said, just like with my former SPOT, I hope I never, ever, ever have to hit the SOS button.

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Kathoola Microspikes.  Because it’s been snowing heavily in the mountains since November & record depths in so many places (it hasn’t stopped yet & so many places get their bulk of snow in the springtime), my chances of hiking in the big mountains as much as I did last year & not being on snow are pretty small, so I bought microspikes.   I’ve had these on my ‘wishlist’ for a couple of years, but this was the year to buy them.  I also researched snowshoes, but since I’m not going to be hiking on fresh snow, I went for the spikes to keep me from sliding off the trail.  And, I will be hiking on trails that are already made in the snow….because if I can’t find the trail, I probably won’t be hiking off into the woods & up the mountains by myself.  Now I just have to consider those raging water crossings….ugh!

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One of my other ‘research’ projects to do this winter, was to see if I could figure out a way to eat more at camp & make smaller meals with no fuss & no leftovers.  I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like to cook in camp & I really do like to eat out.  So, I’ve been trying to learn about dehydrating foods so I would eat a few more easy meals in camp & save a little money.  I’ve tried a couple of things that have given me confidence to keep going.  I’m guessing if I can take about 25 meals, & make myself eat them, that’s a great start.  But, I dislike cooking so much, that if this new process is going to be a pain in the butt or expensive, I’ll just eat peanut butter out of a jar.  

I started with dehydrating some homemade chili I’d made recently & a prepared package of Indian food I purchased at Trader Joes for $1.99 for two servings.  That’s way cheaper than the yummy stuff they sell at REI that’s $13 a package that would probably make me 3 or 4 meals, but it’s not dehydrated & I’d have leftovers…something I want to avoid (cooler issue, remember?)  I took two jellyroll pans I had, added parchment paper & then spread out chili on one & the Dal on the other.  Then I put them in my oven on the lowest setting (propped a wooded spoon in the door to leave it open just a bit) & went to bed.  The next morning everything was crunchy dried up & unappetizing looking but successful.  After they both cooled, I tried re-hydrating each one to see if it worked.  It did, but not the tastiest way.  I’ll have to refine that part, but I’m ready to move forward.

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I’d mentioned to my brother earlier in the week, I was going to try to do this.  He, thankfully, mentioned to me he had a vacuum sealer he wasn’t using that I could borrow ….Yay!  that’s was going to be my only purchase for this experiment & now I didn’t need to buy that.  And, boy is it really easy to use.  I hate single use plastic, so that’s an icky part of this process, but I cut the quart bags in half to try to save both plastic & money & they’re the perfect size for single portions. I’m going to pay attention to any leftovers I have…particularly the meatless one & start dehydrating those for variety & it will be something I already have & know I like.  The meat in the chili tasted fine, but I think it might have a better chance of going bad than meatless dishes.  I was a vegetarian for 20 years…I don’t mind meatless sometimes.

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Living in the past...I think it’s hysterical, that I only just realized I marked the dates on these as 2018. Oh well, I’m good at smiling at all the mistakes I make in life.

The one thing I have enjoyed about being at home this winter, is Danny & I have had some awesome weekends together.  Because the weather has been so horrid, he hasn’t been able to do all the stuff he normally feels obligated to do outside.  So, we’ve just been tucked in the house, a warm fire always going, good beer shared & lots of time just talking together.

But, as the temps warm up, the mud dries & the grass starts to grow, spring will arrive.  Danny will start going to the lake more often & working on his never ending to-do lists here & there.  I’m grateful he will get to join me in Florida in April for part of the trip…his grand girls give him more joy than anything else in life!

And, I’ll be heading out soon after we get home.  I’m still in the trip planning stages…but I love this part of the adventure.  Stay tuned…it all starts on April 7th with a 9 day trip to Florida to see the girls, then back to Kansas for 5 days, then my long road trip begins.  I’ll be headed south to Waxahachie, Texas to speak at & have fun at the Girl Campers event.  

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Then I’ll head west…my favorite part of the country!

PS:  This is a quote I came across while reading one of the Camino de Santiago FB groups I follow (I would love to do this hike someday).  The author, Kate Spencer-Millan, is talking about the Camino, but I think the quote spans the magic of any kind of travel.  Thats one of my favorite parts of travel… the people you meet.  And I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many wonderful fellow travelers along the way!

“We’re all guilty of judging someone on first appearance, but the Camino teaches you to be less so.  You meet amazing, inspiring people.  People you don’t expect to be walking, of all ages, sizes & abilities.  
There’s a massive acceptance for all our imperfections, limitations & our quirky personalities."

they’re finally here!

Ever since we found out a few weeks ago that Sara, Kevin, Claire & Emma would be coming back for Christmas, I’ve been in over-excited drive & planning mode with like 300 things on a to do list….& over the top happy about all of it!  Jill calls me the craziest Grandma & my sister in law says coming to my house for the kids is the next best thing to DisneyWorld…I'll take both those statements as compliments!  

Since they wouldn’t be here until two days after Christmas, the actual holiday was fairly quiet.  I had dinner for five (Phyllis, my brother & his wife) which was yummy with Danny grilling a KC Strip Roast…something we’d never had before.  I baked Christmas cookies the rest of the day & continued my prep for the girls.  

It was a blast having them here!  The early mornings were filled with warm snuggles & reading; the rest of the days & evening was full of fun—costumes, playing in a teepee, baking, crafting, celebrating Claire’s 4th birthday, friends, family & general awesomeness!  I sooooo love these girls!

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Wow!  the days just flew by, but we loved every minute of it!  The trip to the airport lacked a tearful Gki, because….I’ll be flying down next week to see the girls, Sara & Kevin & will be spending a month in Florida!!!!!!  Check back on Tripscibbles for my first trip of 2019…there will be lots of time with these sweet girls, but some adventures with Jill & maybe some time by myself to explore!


better than Santa—someone’s coming home for Christmas!!

This is me

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Particularly around the holidays & when I’m not traveling & at home…I know, I know…rather immature & pitiful, but that can be me, sometimes.  It’s great Danny evens me out by not having moods…he’s the same easy going guy whether he’s over the top happy, frustrated or mad…he’s the same on the outside no matter how he feels.  I do know the holidays can be so difficult & painful for so many…I have much to be grateful for even if no one was coming home this year. But, when I learned that Sara, Kevin, Claire & Emma were coming home for Christmas (actually two days after Christmas—but close enough!) I was over the moon happy!  And, there is a possibility, Luke will pop in too!

So, I bounced right into Happy Mood—then Planning & List Mode—then Productive Mode.  This is the way I tick.  I’m big on lists & efficient processes…kind of funny for someone who doesn’t work.

I made out a Christmas present list (which takes me a long time or many insomniac nights) because I think hard about each gift we give.  We don’t give a lot of gifts or expensive gifts, but ones we think each person would enjoy.  We’ve tried to give more ‘experience’ gifts to our adult children in the past few years…the boys are minimalist & Sara just buys what she wants.

I’m trying to go with the '1 toy, 1 book, 1 piece of clothing’ for the girls, so that was my starting point this year, but I slipped over that a bit.

I decided I wanted to make a “Touchy Feely” book for Emma.  It was kind of fun to design & make & was able to go through a bunch of my random craft supplies to use.  It turned out cute & I hope she really has fun with it!

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The next thing to make on my list was a “Wonky Donkey”.  There’s a viral video going around showing a Scottish Grandmother reading this book to her young grandchild…but totally cracking up while she reads—it’s hysterical & either awesome or the best marketing trick ever.  I’d checked out the book from the library, then bought a copy & read it to Claire.  She thought it was funny too.  You’d think with the popularity of this book, there would be a stuffed Wonky Donkey on Amazon or somewhere, but I got it into my mind to buy Claire her own copy of the book & make the donkey.  When I tried to find patterns or design my own donkey, I ran into a creative & lack-of-skill wall!  So, I bought a small tiny Jellycat (my favorite brand of stuffed animals) & decided to start from there.  This took awhile of thinking & trial & error.  In the book the Donkey is followed by a yellow bird, so I made that first.  I purchased a tiny cowboy hat, which he also wears in the book (he’s a Honky Tonky Donkey).  So, I attached the hat then sewed the bird on the hat.  He’s also a one eyed Donkey (he’s a Winky Wonky Honky Tonky Donkey), so on went an eyepatch.  I made a collar with a bow tie (he’s a Spunky Winky Honky Tonky Donkey). But the most difficult, is that he only has three legs, which is what makes him Wonky.  Wow….so crazy, but it was hard to cut off that donkey’s leg!  (telling myself, ‘it’s only a stuffed toy, it’s only a stuffed toy’) & then figuring out how to make a prosthetic leg.Yikes! Why do I do these things!  But, figure it out I did & am pretty happy with the outcome.  Im always so grateful I dont have any perfectionist DNA in meI can so easily live with its good enough!

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Amid all the sewing & creating, I was able to go to a couple of Christmas events.  Id love to go to parties all the time, but that must not be the circle we run in.  And, while Id like to attend festivities, Im not into going to all the trouble to have one myself.  

This is the first year Ive been a member of Sisters On The Flythe largest womens outdoor camping group in the country.  They had a Christmas party in Wichita (an icky town in the state…I live by the coolest one…the only cool one…ok…I digress & shouldn’t get started on the topic of my most-uncool-state).  It’s way too cold to camp, so we stayed in an old but remodeled super nice hotel downtown.  It was only for the weekend, but it was fun, I made new friends & laughed a lot.

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My other event, an annual one, is SantaCon.  This is super fun pub crawl & fundraiser I go to every year (if I’m in town) & a bunch of my friends go too!  This year was perfect weather & a good time was had by all!

I wore my Santa with a Tree costume that I wore 4 years ago.  I added a few more ornaments to the tree this year…because usually as I make my way from pub to pub, I always lose a few!

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Danny went & bought our live tree while I was partying in Wichita…his contribution to the festivities!  No one I know likes to decorate their tree these days…it was super fun when the kids were little, but way less so now.  In years when no one comes home for holidays, we don’t put up a real tree (ha…my mood would dive down fast & hard if I had to handle all those sweet little kid ornaments without the benefit of seeing any of those sweet kids themselves!).  I have a “Winter Tree” I built from sticks a few years ago, which always goes up around the 1st of December until mid February.  It’s no reminder of Christmas, but I love the twinkly lights on it, & little felt redbirds that dot the funky little ‘tree’.  Danny got down the decorations & I decorated the tree & the house.

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One of our traditions when opening gifts is that one gift will involve a treasure hunt, one will be challenging to open, one will have a dorky little poem to read out loud, & one will be a mystery gift.  It takes me awhile to figure all of that out, but it’s part of what I love about the holidays.  

The treasure hunt came from my childhood Christmas times…my Mom usually did this.  Christmas was always HUGE FUN at our house! (Most holidays were!  We had crepe paper hung from the ceiling most of the time…just trailing from one special day to the next!)  It was also always kind of weird…it was about the only time I would see my parents together.  As soon as I’d get up (sometimes too early & would be sent back to my room—6am was good, but 5am was too early), my Mom would put coffee on & call my Dad.  He’d show up & sit a drink a cup or two, have a cinnamon roll or whatever we were munching on, then leave.  I’m sure he felt like it was ‘obligation’ on his part…he never seem to feel joyful about it.  For whatever people think about divorce, (& it was still looked down on in the late 1950’s), I was lucky my parents went their separate ways.  And, I am so grateful that my Mom was who she was & I was raised by her.  Always, always, grateful for that.  Her traditions & joy seeped into my very being & I’ve always tried to pass that on to my children, & now to Emma & Claire.  I will forever miss my wonderful Mom.

Another tradition I do every year, is bake cookies.  I always send some to whomever is not coming home, then will make another batch closer to the holidays for us & friends.  This year Pete, Leia & Luke (no one knows exactly where he’ll be on Christmas) got their cookies mailed.  I’m always keeping my fingers crossed they get there in a reasonable time…you never know with the post office or any other delivery service (except Amazon…they always get their stuff there!  I wish I could ship my cookies through them.)

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With all the creating done, the decorating finished & the gifts wrapped, I moved on to….

Birthday Mode!

I didn’t only have to think about Christmas, but three birthdays too.  While Claire is here, we’re going to throw her a birthday party.  She turns 4 on January 3rd & since we won’t be in Florida for it, she gets to celebrate early.  I made my lists & got busy.  I have pink party decor that will go up the night before the party & a funky little headband & “4” shirt for her to wear.  Claire has requested a pink Minnie Mouse birthday cake…she & I will bake it together the day before the party.  Fun, Fun & more Fun!

Pete’s girlfriend, Leia also has a birthday in January & since I will be out of town (more on that later), I needed to get all the goodies for that to mail before I fly away.

And, Emma’s birthday is February 6th.  I can’t believe she’ll turn ONE already!  Danny & I will be in Florida for her birthday YAY!!.  But since I’m leaving shortly after Christmas, I bought all of her gifts to take down with me.

So once all that was done, I went back into….

Christmas Mode!

Food.  Yuck.  Danny & I both hate to think about it, discuss it, shop & buy it, but its a necessary thing in life (& I knowfirst world problems, right?)  But, when you have a bunch of people at your house (which we are sooooo super happy about!), you need food. Its hard to take groups out to eat & we live ruralso not that close to good restaurants.  Its much better to have the food here, where its easy & casual.  Then you can go out if you choose, but you dont have to.  We hope Sara & Kevin will take sometime to themselves & enjoy a night out & some of our great Lawrence restaurants, but food has to be ready in the meantime.  I hate to cook, but super hate it if Im missing any fun thats happening in the house.  So, I go into detailed prep mode for festivities like thismenus, food shopping list, cooking timeline, etc.  Its over the top detailed, but its efficient & works for me.

So, while Im updating Tripscribbles right now, I have Mexican chicken in the crock pot, refried beans & taco meat cooking on the stove & a turkey in the oven.  Once cooled, it will all go in the freezer& it continues like that.

Christmas Day will be quiet.Dannys Mom will be here, so the three of us will have an early dinner.  Im baking the next batches of cookies & doing more prep cooking later that day.  Danny & I dont exchange gifts, so we will wait to give Phyllis hers until we celebrate with Saras family on Thursday afternoon (Im soooo excited!  I cant wait!  Claire asked to get the Treasure Hunt gift.  On the tag & in the subsequent boxes she finds, are pictures of the next place shell find her treasure & on & on until it leads to the last boxthe present.  Im smiling huge right now, just thinking about how much fun were going to have!)

I have a long list of fun stuff to do with Claire & Emma.  Im keeping my fingers crossed the weather gods will smile down on us & give us sunshine & warm weather or at least not crappy, super cold & treacherous-driving weather.

We are also planning a Friends & Family party for Sunday evening; no one in the family has met Emma yet & they've only seen Claire a couple of times.

On the travel side of life (YAY!) Ive got a couple of trips lined up for 2019but more about that later.

I hope you have the holidays you wish for, with love, laughter & fun generously sprinkled on top!

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Happy Christmas & a super awesome magnificent New Year!


mt3…I’ve gone crazy!

I thought after all the ‘making stuff’ that went on in October, I’d be done.  I’d cleaned up the mess, put away all my fabric, sewing machine, etc.  But then…one night while laying awake, I decided it would be cool to send Claire a pillowcase a month rather than just Holiday cases…these middle of the night thoughts are crazy!

But, I had fun shopping for fabric for the rest of the months & the remaining holidays that I still needed to make cases for.  I managed to visit 4 fabric stores in one day in Lawrence, came home, washed, dried & then pressed all the fabric.  The next morning, I was ready to go.  I got all (8 more) done by early afternoon.  I love the results & I hope she loves sleeping on each one!

I’d already mailed her October’s Halloween one, & have the November Thanksgiving one ready to pack for when Danny & I go visit at the end of this month…it gets hand delivered.

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December’s was finished too along with January….cupcakes & cake to celebrate her birthday.  She’s turning 4 this year!

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February’s to celebrate Valentines Day & March…well March was just this awesome random cat fabric I found…it ended up being one of my very favorite cases!

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April is for Easter & May is getting ready for summer…pools open, trips to the beach & swimming begins (even though I know they can go to the beach most any month)…I loved this flamingo fabric!

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June is another favorite…ice cream trucks with ice cream cones on the cuff!  July is my least liked one…all the 4th fabric was way to old for Claire.  So, here’s my take on ‘stars & stripes’.

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Another two that I really love are August & September!  August is fireflies & September is for starting back to school.

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I made tags for each one & will mail them each month.

I now thought I was done…however.  My new awesome hula hoop came today & it includes special hooping magic.  I’d bought a cheap one at Target & couldn’t do anything with it but watch it drop to the floor time after time (it went back three days later).  A friend told me where to order a weighted ‘travel’ hoop (I didn’t even know they made a travel one!) & I was anticipating it’s arrival.  About the same time I finished the pillowcase project, the hoop was delivered.  It’s really big, which I’m sure makes it easier.  And, I was able to hoop right away, making more than a 100 hoops before it fell to the ground.  Here’s a pic (taken from the video I sent my friend). 

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Danny & I soon took off for an afternoon & evening in Kansas City, me leaving all my sewing stuff still out.  So, once again, in the wee hours of the night, I decided I needed a bag or some type of cover for my traveling hoop. It comes with a really good simple strap, but I thought my hoop might get all banged up while traveling in my car with all my hiking & camping gear.  So, this morning I went through my fabric, chose a big piece & made a bag for the hoop.

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Now, it’s 2 weeks until I leave for Florida, so I need to focus on that (although, seriously, I could be ready to go in a matter of a couple of hours!)  

ALL sewing stuff is put away & cleaned up…I’m done!  At least for awhile…I think…maybe….it’s possible…I definitely need to learn to think of something else in the middle of the night.


mt2

Yay!  It’s October…one of my favorite months!  I love the weather in Kansas this time of year…cool mornings, warm days, lots of sunshine, changing colors, grass stops growing, sweaters & boots out.  And, it’s the month I’m usually home (I need to change that & find places to go camping & hiking in the fall!) & the month I Make Stuff.  The name of this article is mt2…since my last entry was titled ‘making things’ & since that’s all I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. Since landing back at home from my South Dakota trip, my sewing machine has been going non-stop & it looks like a fabric store threw up in my red room (my living room/dining room).

I’ve made more trips to the fabric stores than I like, spent more money, made a bunch of mistakes, but in the end, it’s all good & all done!  I started with a long list of stuff to make, then added in a couple more projects when insomnia got the better of me in the middle of the night & the brain was in over-create mode.

So, here they are…cool, funny, quirky, & messy!

Sara & her family are taking us on a Disney Cruise in late October!  Wow!  I’m not sure there are any kids half as excited as we are!  It’s super generous of them & we can’t wait to spend time with the girls & having a magical time.  The other awesome thing about this cruise is that it’s a Halloween (my favorite holiday!!!) cruise.  We have Pirate night & a costume contest.  Also, once we’re back in Orlando, we get to spend Halloween night with the family.  In Sara’s neighborhood, a ton of the families all dress up…sometimes having the same theme.  This year, Claire picked out Jesse for her Halloween costume, a character from Toy Story 2…a movie she loves!  So, that’s the theme & we all chose a character from the movie.  Sara will be Buzz LightYear; Kevin will be Woody; Emma will be one of the aliens; & Danny & I will be Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head.  Once back in Orlando, joining us will also be Danny’s Mom as Wheezy the Penguin & Rose, their Nanny, will be Bo Peep.  It should be a blast!

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These pictures of Danny are not only hysterical but so sweet & perfect!  He would never ever ever before dress up in a costume for me (all these years of trying!), but said “YES!!!” in a heartbeat when it came to doing it for Claire & Emma…so great!

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Since I took the initial photo of Mr. Potato head, I’ve altered his teeth & added lips…Danny didn’t like his ‘buck teeth’ & wanted him to look happier.

And, yes, all the parts move around…I thought Claire would get a kick out of that! (This is actually the second Mr. Potato Head costume I’ve made.  I made one years ago when the kids were little & wore it a couple of times after they were done with it.  Luke requested it a few years back to wear to a party, so it was shipped to California…& there it lives or most likely has died but gone out having a great time!)


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Here’s Wheezy the Penguin…looks pretty cute & comfortable (unlike the potato costumes which broke a couple of my ‘costume rules’).  While they’re easy to move around in, it’s tricky with the eye holes being in the hat…a little limited visibility.  When the kids were little & I made their costumes, one rule was that you had to be able to wear a coat under it because you never knew if it was going to be 70 degrees or 40 degrees.  But, I’ve warned Danny how hot it can be in Orlando during Halloween…I fear we will become “baked potatoes” in their heat!

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I’ve also been ‘collecting’ stuff for the girls for Halloween…little treats that aren’t candy.  They have tons of toys, but I couldn’t resist buying this…it will be a gift to Claire from her Grandpa!  And, I couldn’t leave sweet baby Emma out, so I made her a Potato Head Doll…all sewed tight since she’s so into putting everything in her mouth these days.

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The big projects were next!  I’m making three flannel rag quilts for Christmas gifts & wanted to get them done early.  I can’t say who they’re for…because it’s a SURPRISE.  But, it’s safe to show them on here, because the receivers never read this blog.  I already had all the fabric chosen & bought before I left for South Dakota, & knew I had to get the costumes done first.  But, after they were done, I went in to quilt-frenzy mode!

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These are the fastest, most forgiving quilts you can make…& oh so cuddly & warm!  

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But I swear you can give yourself tendinitis clipping these seams.

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It’s funny where your mind wanders when you can’t sleep; mine seems to go all over the board, seeking out every subject, place, color & design, always with some music playing in the background….it’s no wonder sleep evades me.  But sometimes, I get great ideas.  I’ve been trying to think of something I could do with Claire…interactive…in the mail.  While this idea didn’t really fill that desire, a new one popped into my brain.  I’d make & send her Holiday pillow cases…it’s not a book, not a toy, not candy, not a project (with a million pieces), etc.  I decided I’d send her one for Halloween, Christmas, her Birthday, Valentines Day, Springtime & Summer (not included is Thanksgiving, Easter & 4th of July).  I could make two at a time & send them a couple of weeks before the holiday.  Emma will get her own set when she’s old enough to sleep with a pillow.  So, back to my favorite fabric store!  And I loved loved loved this fabric!  I shipped her Halloween case just a couple of days ago…I can’t wait till she gets it!

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I also chose some Christmas fabric & went ahead & made that one to be mailed in early December.

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And, speaking of Christmas….it’s been on my list to make Emma a stocking.  I don’t know when Claire & Emma will ever get to be at our house on Christmas (it’s always crappy weather!), but I’d made Claire & Kevin a stocking a couple of years ago & wanted to be prepared & ready for when/if they come for Christmas someday.

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When I’d arrived back home after my wonderful, almost-perfect, fantastic summer road trip, one of the first things I did was to clean out our attic.  I was in the mood to get rid of stuff.  As, it turned out there wasn’t a ton to get rid of, but a few things made their way gone!  One of the things that stayed, but not up but down & into the house, was an old youth chair that came from Danny’s family.  Our kids used it when they were growing up.  It’s perfect to sit at the kitchen table, when one is too old to use a high chair, but too short to sit in a regular chair.  So, I decided to paint it (with leftover paint from my kitchen walls) & get it ready for when Claire & Emma come to visit!  And, I added a few polka dots, because they’re my favorite!

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As a Mother’s Day gift to self this year, I joined the Sister On The Fly…over 10,000 women to love to camp & be outside. Most have cute vintage trailers.  They’re nationwide with a ton of subgroups…Sisters that Paddle (I’m on the lookout for a kayak); Grandma’s on the Loose (they take their grandkids camping & fishing with them on special outings); Sister’s on the Curb (shout out if you’re traveling through a certain place to see if someone will let you park on their curb or on their property), etc.  They also do some philanthropy work but mostly a huge source of good times & new friends.  Here are their rules:  No Men, No Kids, Be Nice & Have Fun.  I’m not a rule lover, but these I can follow.

My first event with the Sisters & a group called Girl Camper was last April in Waxahacie Texas & it was a blast!  I felt so included even though I don’t own (& don’t plan on it) a trailer or all kinds of stuff to decorate it with.  These were awesome women whom I’d never have met if I had gone to the event.  I can’t wait to go next year!

In April, my only “Glamping” addition, was a chair cover for my cheap camp chair & an extra set of twinkle lights. (project from March, 2018)

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One new addition I wanted for future events, was something that showed my name & member number (the numbers seem to be a big deal…low numbers have been in the group for years).  Sisters have all kinds of cool ways to display their numbers, but mine had to be cheap, light, small to pack & easy to display.  I made a number banner for my friend Jill’s camper, but I wanted something that fit the 4Runner.  I’d had on my list of future projects something I ran across called a “wooly totem”.  I love totem poles…there are so many cool art poles out there, but this one hung inside, made of wool felt.  It’s still on my someday list, but it gave me the idea for my Sister project.  It was fun to create, cost me less than $5, will be easy to pack & I’ll hang from the loop on the inside of my hatch door which stays open when I’m at an event.  I wanted something to reflect me…so it’s a peace symbol, heart, tree, map, mountains, name, number, oceans & a little brass bell that should ring in the wind!

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My last project but was both the most frustrating & the most fun…well, not exactly fun, but I love to design!  The problem is that it never turns out quite like I want it…some parts are always a little disappointing, & some are luckily better than I’d planned.  I never use a pattern…I’m math-stupid & patterns never have made sense to me.  All those arrows!  I’ve always been better at just making my own patterns & writing out my own directions, following those, sometimes re-ordering the steps…whatever…it’s always an interesting process.

My goal for this crazy project was to make a robe (sounds simple, right?) that I could wear to my Sister On the Fly events.  While some of the women costume up for activities, I was interested in the morning coffee in camp, where women just wear their jammies & robes & sit around visiting & laughing. I’d bought a pair of pj bottoms for $8 & added some pom trim around the base…I have black pj tops that will work for chilly or hot weather, but wanted a funky, quirky robe to wear.  I also needed it easy to pack, since I don’t want to be packing a lot of stuff.  I can’t remember ever lining anything before & collars are always so. much. fun…but in spite of doing both of those things, I like how it turned out.

So after a weekend of lots of cussing & growling & a little use of the seam ripper, here’s the finished product..

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Two other —non-creative, non-making, no sew projects that happened during this time were awesome fun!

While I’d been on my summer road trip, I’d met my favorite travel blogger, Sherry Ott, & actually got to go hiking with her & a couple of her friends.  We became fast friends & I enjoyed her company a lot!  She asked me to write a guest blog post for her blog & she published it in September on her website called Otts World .  What fun!  I can’t wait to meet up with her again sometime in the future & will always continue to follow her travels around the world!

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One of the women I met at the Waxahachie event, was Janine Pettit creator of Girl Camper Podcast, which was like meeting a movie star (since I never watch TV & rarely go to the movies, I get ‘starstruck’ when I meet one of my favorite bloggers or podcasters).  We’ve kept in touch since then & the week before Labor Day I received an email from Janine asking me if I’d like to be on one of her podcasts…I said YES!  We talked on a Saturday morning for over an hour just chatting & getting to know more about each other.  Then Monday morning, she called & we recorded the podcast.  It was a blast & she makes it all so comfortable…& traveling is my favorite subject so it’s easy to talk about.  Here is the link to the Girl Camper Podcast & my interview! (Pic below from the April event.  Janine on the far left; new friend JoLynn in the middle & my life long best friend & travel buddy, Jill on the right.)

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I have a couple of weeks before I leave for Orlando…I’m going to end up road tripping down there, since airfare is so expensive.  The new twist for this trip, will be that my Mother in Law will be joining me on the way down.  I think she’s kind of excited at the prospect of a road trip…she hasn’t done too many in her life & doesn’t really enjoy air travel that well. So, we’ll see how it goes, but I always look forward to hitting the road, especially to see Claire & Emma.  And then, because I’m driving & will be solo (or maybe Jill will join me???)  after our Orlando fun, I’ll be planning some  S L O W  route home, hopefully beautiful, maybe walk some beaches, see the Gulf or the Atlantic…cram in all that I can before winter hits & keeps me home bound. 

making things

I traveled in January & February…but March I was back at home, as I will remain the first couple of weeks of April too.  My mother in law had more medical stuff & a trip to Arizona during the month of March, so I kept busy taking her places & happy to report all things medical were good!  Her travels for the winter are over too, which means she’ll be at the lake, welcoming Spring & many, many guests that love to come play during the summer.  The time IN-beTweeN the two trips & the time I’ve been at home last month, had me "making things" once again.

I made a couple of new winter hats using some old scarves I hadjust cut up some old crap to make something new!

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I needed to finish putting together & quilting a baby quilt for my nephews new baby girl due in late May.  I may or may not be in town for the birth, so I wanted to have it finished & wrapped before my trip in April.  I used the same pattern as Id used for Emmas, but with super bright fabrics.  They know the baby is a girl, so I added lots of pink!

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I also made a couple of very random things.  One day I decided I had to have a footstool for this ugly chair I detest, so I started shopping for one.  It consumed me for about 36 hours.  Of course I wanted a really cool one for about $20.  I’m like a dog on a bone with some of my ideas, but they never last long…unless it’s travel…it’s a never ending want/desire/pull…. you get the picture.

When I couldn’t find what I wanted, I found a free pattern online, came home, dug through my meager pile of fabric, & made one.  It works great…even doubles as a meditation cushion.  PS:  I really thought I’d gotten rid of that stupid ugly chair (the plaid one in the background)…it was even out the door, in my car & on it’s way to goodwill just a few weeks after I made the footstool.  But, sometimes we don’t always get what we want.  The ugly chair made it’s way back into the house (but not back into the living room), making me crazy!  But, that’s a really, long, stupid story…anyway, I do like the footstool, which is now sitting alone in my living room.  And, the cats like it too.

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My next & last project was to make a couple of colorful pillowcases to match my camping quilt.  One side is bright & one side is dark.  In the past I’ve always just taken my one set of pillowcases…pale yellow, with me camping.  I wanted something cheerful!  Who knew pillowcase making was a little complicated?  It turns out, the way to make them is with French seams…meaning no raw seams show….even from the inside.  I found a you-tube video that made it all go smoothly…even if I had to replay it & follow it a second time to make the second case.  But, they’re done & I love them!

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I was done with my projects, but there was something else creative I wanted to SEE.  Nathan Sawaya is a Lego artist I’ve been following for about three years on Instagram.  His exhibition, “The Art of the Brick”, came to Kansas City, so as soon as I got some time, I went to see it.  WOW!  He creates amazing things using Legos; there are 100 exhibits on display.  Replicas of famous paintings & statues. Quirky things like giant pencils & peace signs.  He had a whole section of very soulful type creations with his words on what they each meant to him.  Next to each of the pieces there is a card telling you how many Lego’s built that piece & how much time it took him, along with whatever he named that particular piece.  It was great!

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April is here & it still feels like winter.  We had snow & freezing temps on Easter & this Friday, April 6th, the temp is supposed to drop to 16 at night! Yikes!  I miss the warm sunshine of Florida!  I’ve also been reading, reading, reading!  Lots & Lots of books!

My camping stuff is mostly in my bedroom…I didn’t put it too far away after the last trip.  When the next warm day rolls around, I’ll remove the back seats from Camper, vacuum the inside & start packing it. A new California atlas arrived today…so spring/summer trip planning will begin in detail in the next few days.  I don’t leave until mid-April, but I can’t wait!  So, sooner better than later.  I have my packing lists made out for the next three trips…a little ahead of myself, but I’m sooooo ready to go!


creative silliness

Once the kids left, I popped into ‘think about Christmas mode’.  When the kids were all living at home, I’d never start the holiday process until after Thanksgiving…had to get through all that menu planning & cooking for Turkey day.  But once they all moved away, I had to build in  ‘shipping time’.  So while others think of the 25th as “the date to be ready”, I had to back that up a couple of weeks. Regarding Thanksgiving 2017, I wonderfully lucked out & we were invited to my nieces for Thanksgiving….only the 2nd time since we’ve been married I had ZERO cooking to do!  Yippee!  

But I LOVE Christmas!  I always have.  It’s sometimes rather a strained time in our household, because while I’m married to wonderful guy, when December rolls around, I could nickname him Scrooge or Grinch.  It’s just another thing we feel opposite about…that list is long, but this one’s been on it since we got married.

I was also still spending some time dealing with my Mother-in-laws health issues.  She’s seems to be fine….no pain or new problems, but she’s flunked a couple of tests that have turned two appointments into several more & a new physician.  But in-between those appointments & phone calls….I began Christmas.

Danny & I don’t exchange gifts, so it’s mostly our minimalistic kids & Claire.  We’ve tried to give more “experience” gifts over the past years to our kids than stuff….they are not ‘stuff’ people.  Sometimes it works & sometimes it doesn’t.  But the super fun gifts this year have been for Claire!  And this year we get to spend Christmas in Florida with Sara’s family!!!  The only thing better is if we were all together, but we’re so pumped to be spending it with them!

Can you keep a secret?  Since I’m posting this before Christmas, I’m letting the cats out of the bag, so to speak.  But we’re buying her a really cool play kitchen.  My friend Jill, who is the expert at being a Grandma, gave me the idea.  Yes, it huge, & yes it takes 3 hours to put together, but I think she’ll love it!  The idea also goes along with her birthday gifts, which is just a week later.  We will be celebrating it with her the Thursday after Christmas though, since we won’t get to be there for her actual party.

I detest plastic.  So, when I went to look for all the other stuff that Claire would need for her kitchen, the food was icky plastic.  I ordered a cool stainless steel pot, pan, cookie sheet & other miscellaneous kitchen tools, but I couldn’t find the food I liked.  So, with some ideas from Pinterest, I made it all.  It’s fun making things for Claire, because she likes it all & little kids have not learned to be critical or picky about homemade things.  I love how everything turned out—except the cupcakes— & I think she’ll like it too & more importantly, playing & using her imagination with it all.  So, the kitchen for Christmas with a fry pan filled with eggs & bacon & Christmas cookies in the oven on the cookie sheet & a tea towel on the counter.  Birthday gifts will include all the other food, pots & pans along with a tiny Pez (ode to Uncle Peter—a former zephead), a book or two & a pair of polka dot leggings.

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The cake is definitely my favorite!  I made three layers, so they can be stacked or separate.  But there are four different cake toppers that magnetically attach so they can be swapped from cake to cake!

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On her birthday, I’m going to layer them all & top it with three candles!  

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After it was all done, I had to figure out how to package everything (I hate giving things that have a million pieces & no way to contain them).   But I think everything turned out cute, appropriately contained & Claire will love it!

Since I was in “creative mode”, I made Jill—my camping—buddy a pillow for her new teardrop trailer she picks up next week!  We’re both so excited for her.  On Thanksgiving weekend, her son, his wife & three kids were in Kansas City & stopped by the house.  I asked Jill’s granddaughter, who is 5,  if she was excited about her Nana’s new trailer-camper…on the spot, Caleigh named it “Tramper”.  Jill loved the name!

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Every year in Lawrence, one of the local bars sponsors their version of SantaCon…a nationwide event of bar hopping Santas, elves, & reindeer.  I’ve gone for several years & always have a great time with my Santa friends (a lot of my friends go to this)  Scrooge always meets me later at a bar so he doesn’t feel obligated to even put on a Santa hat….whatever, he’s missing all the fun!  Having three Santa costumes, an elf & a snowman costume, & since I’m on a tight budget this year (when am I not?) & no job has managed to fit into my weird ass schedule (don’t even ask) I decided to just ‘perk up’ one of my old costumes.  I added better fur & blinky lights (I love blinky lights!) around the top of the chimney….it turned out great & is pretty comfortable (a must for a long winter day).  We all merrily made our way from the 1st bar to the second, some singing, some ‘HO HO HOing” & some of us passing out candy to people we passed.  There were several bars on the list, so walking up & down Mass street happens over & over.  It’s always sooooo muchhhhh fuuuunnnn!

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135 Santa’s ready for lots of fun!

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The other close to my heart project I finished, was the quilt for our new grand baby which should arrive around the end of January or beginning of February!  Yay!  I love this pattern & the fabric I chose & I cant wait for it to be snuggled around our new little grandbaby!

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Over all the years Danny & I have lived here, my across the road neighbor was so dear to me.  Our kids grew up together & we spent many, many hours visiting, laughing, sewing, & getting into a few crazy situations.  Sharon & I couldnt have been more different, but our hearts were the same.  She was patient, empathetic, kind, quiet & loving.  Her husband passed away several years ago, & her health began to decline.  She moved into a nursing home two years ago & slowly her body & speech deteriorated, but her mind was usually pretty sharp.  I tried to go see her every week when I was not traveling & take her outside weather permitting. She loved to reminisce about the past & wed always manage to fill some of our visits with laughter, even though, there were always tearsshe did not like living in the nursing home.  When the kids were young, our tradition was to bake Christmas cookies with three other Moms & their kids & it was a huge, sugar filled, laughter-fest, fun day…every time.  Sharon peacefully died last week.  I was able to go see her one last time, hug her & say goodbye.  I will miss her so much.  She had the best ‘giggle’ I’ve ever heard & remembering it will always make me smile.

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I hope all your holidays are what you wish them to be…Happy Christmas!


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