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30 October 2011

Art Quilt Designs!

It's been a long time since I have posted. We've settled into Florida for the winter and I have discovered a new and exciting hobby!

The walls of the RV were screaming for artwork, but I knew I could not hang traditional pictures. While in Savannah I took an art quilt class.  What a fun craft!  So.... you know me.... I set out to teach myself how to change a photo to a wall hanging!

I've been busy. I selected a picture of a Hyacinth Macaw we took at a zoo, thinking it would be fairly simple. Creating the line drawing and actual pattern was challenging. After several attempts, I came up with a design I thought would work.

Finding the right fabric proved to be the hardest part of the process! The town we are in has a quilt shop, but they did not have the 'right' fabric. A trip to Winter Haven with my sister to "her" quilt shop, and spending hours with Katy, the best salesclerk ever, netted the right fabric choice!  If I had not been trying to match the Hyacinth Macaw color, fabric would have been a lot easier.

I returned home and put the quilt together. The first day I completed the head, the next two days were spent on the body (I changed the design) and the third day was used to mount the bird and bind the quilt. Of course I forgot the hanging sleeve, so I added that on the last day :)

I've created a few more designs over the past 2 months. I love the actual design process. It challenges my mind using my computer skills, and problem solving techniques. Being in the RV, designing and creating Art Quilts keeps me busy without having to drag out the sewing machine to make quilts. I am able to be creative with fabric without making a huge mess, and the fabric stash is much smaller.

Besides... I have lots of quilts... on the bed, on the sofa, in the car for the dog, in the dog kennel, on the dash... and some in storage.

The walls are still empty... and I can easily store the wall hangings, so I can switch them out when the need to redecorate hits. 

I'm selling the patterns for $14 each.. If you want one, please contact me.
I will also create a pattern from your photos or ideas...

22 August 2011

Lionfish to Starfish

We snorkeled early this morning. There were squalls all around, but we managed to pick what became the best part of the day. We decided to stay near our exit point, since there was not much current.

We have seen a lionfish along the wall, but it has always ducked into a hole when we got close. Today there were two, and one stayed out. We got some pretty good pictures. Yes, I know they are bad for the reef, and yes we have told our neighbor spear-fisherman they are there... But they are still pretty.

We turned around and made our way the other direction, passing our exit point, but always staying aware of the sky. Things lightened up, and we had a pleasant window of time. As I approached a large sponge we frequently crossed, I noticed an unfamiliar light spot. The light turned out to be a spotted scorpionfish.

 On the lighter side .. at the buoy marking the wreck, we surprised this bird.

A leisurely drift back to our exit netted a star fish, crab, and a very tiny cowfish... very very tiny..

By piece of sea grass

Yes, I know I did not post the crab.. posted a crab picture yesterday... More squalls are moving through as we keep an eye on Irene. Glad we snorkeled early!

20 August 2011

It's getting better!

Looks like the Lobster takers have given up on our wall. The fish are starting to come back. We had a pretty good snorkel this morning.  First we saw this crab hanging out on the wall. We rarely see these guys so exposed.

Next, we came across this cute grouper protecting his sponge..

A little farther on I found this Green Moray Eel. It's the first moray we have seen on this wall. We were sure they are here, but have never seen one, not even on night dives. This guy retracted back into the hole really fast, and we could not coach him back out, but I did manage to snap this picture. 

This large pipe lays at the edge of the wall. There is a big grouper that lives inside, but we have never seen him out, nor been able to get a picture.  This is the normal picture.. you can see the line of his mouth. I could take lights with the camera, but am just too lazy...

On the way back in today, we sneaked up on the pipe from the shallow end. He is here! I assume he has lived so long because he is so shy!

When we snorkel, we usually swim against the current going out, then drift back to our exit. On the final drift section, we happened across this guy! A little research tells us that this is a bat fish. Check out the funny 'leg'.

We were done, but just happened across another exposed crab. Isn't this a cute guy?

That is it for today! We have had lunch and are ready to chill out and watch a little TV.  Let's hope the snorkeling remains as good!  These pictures were our highlights. Our wall is a giant nursery, so we have schools of juveniles of lots of fish. The baby barracuda seem to be growing every day. There are lots of chic lobsters, some angels, and assorted other fish. The down side of the wall is the lack of color in the plant life.


18 August 2011


We have been really disappointed with the snorkeling. There is a lot of silt in the water, tons of sea grass floating by, and the spear-fishermen and lobster takers continue to ravage the wall. The Ibis hotel jet ski rentals are coming close in to the wall almost every night and wrecking havoc with those of us who are snorkeling. The idiots tear through the water right along the wall, sometimes passing into the shallow area, and have no regard for the snorkelers in the water. This is a huge area. There is no reason to come so close to the beach.

Last night we ate dinner at Braza Lena. I had not eaten at a Brazilian steakhouse, so we took the opportunity. The experience was another disappointment. The restaurant was almost empty, yet the hostess sat us next to another couple. The salad bar was impressive. I especially liked the poke and salmon pasta salads. The Filet Mignon stroganoff soup was full of mushrooms and very tasty. As in many restaurants, the wine was very overpriced. Gerry did have 1 glass with dinner. I drank water. The house sirloin was good. The lamb chops were good; the lamb roast was tasteless. The other beef was overdone, the filet mignon was unmemorable. The shrimp was overcooked and rubbery. The chicken was overcooked. I was disappointed that there were no vegetables. Roasted onions and red peppers would have been a natural for the style of cooking. We did get some mashed potatoes.

The wait staff was attentive, and catered to our requests. When the bill came, we were surprised! The dinner was $44 per person, which we expected. The glass of wine, taxes and gratuity brought the bill to $120! We were not expecting the gratuity to be added for a table for 2. This was unfortunate, as we usually tip 20%...and the fixed was 17%. Yes, we could have added the difference, but we chose not to. If the restaurant feels they have to force the tip, that leaves a bad taste in our mouth. I asked for a box to take the lamb chop bone home to our puppy. That was a hassle. It seems the manager does not allow doggy bags. I was just trying to take a bone, not any meat scraps. One of the waiters did finally come with a box.

The deserts looked good, but we chose not to try them.

So, I can now check off that I went to a Brazilian Steakhouse. We won't be back. We'd rather drop that kind of money at a Ruth's Chris or Morton's.

We snorkeled a different area of the wall yesterday, the vis was a little better, and the top of the reef was healthier. We are now looking at the time snorkeling as pure exercise.. and if we see something, that is a plus. Big difference from the sense of excitement we had snorkeling the same area last spring when we saw something different every swim.

13 August 2011

Key West for the summer!

We completed our commitment at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and have arrived in Key West. We are going to spend a few weeks diving and snorkeling. We are past mini lobster season and in regular lobster season.  We are really surprised how barren the wall is. There are very few lobsters, and no large fish. The spear fishers and lobster takers have really stripped the wall.

Lobster Chic

23 July 2011

Surviving A Week of YMCA Campers

We entertained 130 kids and 13 adults over 3 days this week. We had 6 stations that  the groups rotated through.

At the bird station the Ranger talked about bird feet and beaks, demonstrated the difference between an Owl and Eagle feather, and explained bird banding. The kids liked seeing all the different types of eggs, thought the nest in a hornet's nest was neat, and enjoyed hearing the different bird songs, as well as watching the birds at the feeders.

A short talk about the life cycle of butterflies and a great time exploring the butterfly garden was fun for all. The Passion Vine was loaded with caterpillars! We found butterfly eggs and saw ladybugs on the hunt for aphids.

Habitat and it's four elements -  shelter, food, water and space -  were explained and demonstrated with a game. A caterpillar decided to make a chrysalis on a leg of the table, so everyone had a chance to see the butterfly life cycle in action. 

At CSI (Critter Scene Investigation) the resident Biologist showed us tracks and Scat. The kids dissected an Owl pellet and figured out what the Owl had been eating. The kids also got to make track prints on paper to take home.

Inside the Visitor Center a scavenger hunt through the exhibit provided some much needed A/C and freedom.

The last station gave the kids a chance to color a circle that became a badge and create a drawing about the refuge to be displayed on the walls of the Visitor Center Auditorium. The older kids were introduced to the Federal Duck Stamp.

The Blue Goose made a surprise visit during lunch, then it was onto the bus for a tour around the refuge with 3 rangers!

The kids seemed to have a good time despite temperatures in the 90s.

18 July 2011

Savannah Update

My Purple clubs... purple makes me play better!

18th hole at Crosswinds Par 3 course

We have a few more weeks in Savannah. It's been very hot here, but we needed some exercise, so have been taking golf lessons. I love my driver, I never was any good at Putt-Putt and the same is true of real golf. But we are having fun!

 A few weeks ago we had a group of college students in. The class learned how to band birds. We were invited to help. I was the 'Weighing Winch'. It's interesting work. Some birds are caught in the same nets at about the same date and time every year. That is amazing! The highlight of the day was a pair of woodpecker chicks we caught!

I got a really neat shot of this alligator in one of the canals. I happened to be driving across a canal when this gator was swimming toward the bank to cross the road.

Male Wood Duck