Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Greece--Day 7

The sunrises each morning were beautiful.Some days the sun rose through the mist and some days, the sky was clear. I enjoyed watching each new day begin!

This morning, we tried the coffee pot in our outdoor kitchen. . .big fail! You may be wondering why we had to do such a thing. Yesterday, when the we plugged in the coffee pot, the act blew the fuse. We had no electricity in the kitchen. We all wondered why the coffee pot would stop working as the previous day there was no indication that it was on its last legs. 

We speculated that during the cleaning process, which happened the previous day, water had seeped into the outlet. We figured if we left it alone for a day, we'd be able to make coffee again. Jumping back to today, nope, plugging in the coffee pot trips the breaker. We can use that plug for other appliances without an issue so it is the coffee pot. We tried other ways of making coffee; but, it took way too long.  

Breakfast pastry. . .delicious
Amanda, James and Miss J came to the rescue. They drove to a coffee shop. In addition to coffee,We  they also brought back cheese pastry, chicken pastry and spinach pastry. The coffee tasted great as did the pastries.

Miss K and Miss J at the entrance to the cave (Photo J Callahan)
Today the Callahan's went to the cave of Zeus. (Editor's note: Miss K is writing this part of the post in her voice.) Hi, it's Miss K. It was a 36 minute drive from our villa to the parking area near the cave. The drive was fine until we were closer to our destination. The road narrowed to the width of one car. To our right, there was a huge drop. Thank goodness we didn't meet any traffic!

The cave of Zeus (Photo J. Callahan)
We left the parking lot and began the hike. In the beginning, the trail was nice, smooth and with slight hills. We passed a shady area with a koi pond. Then it became rocky, like really rocky. It was terrible. There was a cave; but, the signage signaled us to keep walking. I stayed while the rest of the group climbed to the top. At the top was the view and the cave was where I stopped. They hiked back down. I liked being right! Inside the entrance to the cave, someone had left a ram. The inside of the cave smelled bad; but, we only saw bones. Gross! We snapped a few photos and left.

Miss K and Miss J at the Temple of Demeter (Photo J. Callahan)
After hiking back to the car, we packed up and drove to the Temple of Demeter. After we had walked around the area, we stopped at the supermarket for supplies for the last couple days of our stay in the villa.

Lunch (Photo N. Knott)
For lunch we ate sandwiches. There were a variety of meats and cheeses available. We also had olives and chips. Chips are seasoned differently in Greece. The potato chips were seasoned with oregano and the Doritos were a sweet chili flavor. The chips were good. 

Hanging out in the pool
We rested a bit for our lunch to digest. Then we went into the pool. Miss A is getting the hang of the routine. First is a coating of sunscreen. Then wait--we waited 15 minutes for the sunscreen to soak into our skin. Third step is putting on the swimsuit. The fourth step is walking with an adult to the outdoor shower and showering. Miss A liked playing in the shower. Fifth step was waiting for an adult to get in the pool and asking Miss A if she wanted in. She always said yes!

Miss J and Miss K improved their endurance and stroke efficiency.

Chicken skewers and legs 
Bob grilled chicken skewers and chicken legs for dinner. Nicole's partner made a Turkish style salad--cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, parsley and fresh lemon juice with olive oil. James baked oven fried potatoes which were delicious!

Once we finished the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, we took stock of the leftovers and made a plan because tomorrow would be our last full day on Naxos.



Sunday, August 27, 2023

Temperature Project Update

First six days of March

Regarding the temperature top, when I completed the month of February. I thought about taking a photo of the project to that point; but didn't. Instead, I'm sharing a photo of the first six days of March. 

Except for March first which had the low in the 30-34 degree range and sunshine, the low and high temperatures have been in the same range! We've also had rain each day. The high has been between 45 and 49 degrees. The low has been between 35 and 39 degrees. 

In reality, I stitched the same block for ten days! Working on this project has made me aware of how often it rains as well as how small a temperature range many days exhibit! 

At the end of March, we traveled to London to visit our daughter and granddaughter. It was the granddaughter's birthday month and there was a first birthday party organized. We also took with us, our oldest granddaughter, Keira. She turned eleven years old at the end of May. 

With the travel, the sight seeing, I hoped not to get too far behind on this project! I did okay. By the third of April, I

The progress as of August 1. The dark row in the middle of the quilt
denotes the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023

had finished the blocks for March. I repaired that errant block and I had completed the first two days of April.

Getting caught up felt great! I continued to manage stitching and inserting one block at the end of the day through May. In June, I began piecing and inserting the dark blocks for the border. 

I'm planning to applique the top to the purple fabric that I've used in the spacing diamonds. I needed to insert the dark blocks so that when the end of the year arrives, I'll be ready to begin the applique process. Otherwise, this project could easily become a three year project!

Also in June, we took a family vacation to Greece. I did not bring the top along although, I did bring materials to piece the daily blocks. I did manage to piece the daily block; but, not much more than that! I also thought that I would continue piecing filler blocks for the border which I did a couple of days on the trip.

Miss K helped me piece too.

Learning to English Paper Piece
She has a knack for English Paper Piecing (EPP). Perhaps, we will figure out an EPP project for her to stitch. . .BUT, I digress!!!

July was all about catching up with the insertion of the blocks that I had stitched while we were away. I continued to make the daily block. I also stitched the filler blocks for the border. There were days that I stayed up late to either meet the insertion goal I had set for myself or to ensure that I had made the daily block!

Detail of a corner
August first, I took a photo of the top. I did add all the border blocks for the left side of the quilt. I added all of the blocks for July. It felt great to see it on the design wall. It is growing. By the end of August, it will measure about 44 inches wide by 76 inches tall. It takes me about two hours to cut fabric, piece the block and insert it into the top.

This is a good evening project as my husband and I watch the news and converse about the events of the day.  For the last couple of months, I've been trying to insert two blocks each day. There will be 891 blocks which translate into 1782 hours. There will also be 896 background diamonds. Total pieces in this project will be 2,688! I'm glad I'm past
the halfway mark with construction the top!

View of the project towards the end of August
During August, I have inserted a couple blocks each day. I have added the filler border blocks to the bottom of the project and I'm currently adding filler blocks to the top of the project.

In October, I'll post another update as I ought to have the filler blocks inserted on all the previous rows. My next challenge is figuring out how to add the border. I'm planning a purple five inch border to which I will applique the top. I don't want to lose all those points!

This was goal number five on my August list. I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Greece--Day 6

Ada swimming with Mama (Photo by B. Knott)
We sure enjoyed the pool at the villa. On this day, Miss Ada started learning about jumping in the pool and making splashes with her feet and hands. She laughed and laughed which tickled all of us. Miss J proved to have the quietest arms with the front crawl and also the one who could swim the longest underwater. Miss K proved to be able to improve her strokes the fastest. She was also the one who practiced what she was learning.

We also learned how to do a few rescues safely. . .we talked about always using equipment; but at this pool there was none. No pole or kick board was in sight.

Breakfast was yogurt for those that liked or could tolerate it. (For two of us, cow dairy upsets our stomachs.) There was honey for the toast or the yogurt, cherries and watermelon. Half of us went to the beach while the other half of us went to tour the Eggares Olive Press Museum which was a 20 minute car ride from our villa.

Picking the olives--note the rake used to enhance the picking speed

It was interesting to listen to the history of how olive oil was made. At harvest, the entire family worked. Kids used "rakes" to pick the olives which the picker placed in baskets. The baskets were carried to the press area where the olives were crushed. We saw two different presses. The first, two to three men pushed the rock around the stone surface. They moved the rock clockwise and then counter clockwise until the olives were crushed.

First method of pressing olives
Later, they moved to a second type of press where a donkey was used to power the handle. Interestingly, some pits are always left in during the crushing stage because the pits give a better flavor to the oil. Once the olives were in a paste, this paste was placed between goat hair mats. Goat hair was used because it didn't absorb the oil.

Second method of pressing olives. Storage jars lower left.
To capture the oil from the mats, they placed the mats in a tub and poured hot water on the mats. The oil rose to the surface and workers ladeled it into storage containers. I was surprised to learn that "real" olive oil isn't in plastic containers. Good olive oil should be in glass or tin. Olive oil stored away from high temperatures and air can age three to four years easily. Cold pressed olive oil is a technique used only in the factories. 

We sampled a lot of flavored oil like: basil, garlic, chocolate, pepper, lemon, truffle, and curry. The flavor is infused after the oil has been made. We sampled a variety of olive oil pastes. Of course, we sampled olives! We also sampled some olive oil cake that was light, moist and delicious as well as some marmalade that contained no olive oil. Some slices of olive oil cake and containers of olive oil came home with us. 

Horse hair mats used to collect olive oil (Photo By N. Knott)
After the olive oil excursion, we joined the group at the beach. They had picked/rented four chairs and two bean bag chairs close to the street. The grass umbrellas were terrific sun shades and the lounge chairs were comfy. Miss K and Miss J, James, and I went into the water to join the rest of the group. I thought it was cold; but, I still enjoyed holding Miss Ada in the water. Once Miss Ada became accustomed to the temperature, she was all over swimming with Miss K.

The chair set up at the beach. Note the coffee. A staff person takes
your order and then returns with your request. (Photo by N. Knott)
Of course, there was playing in the sand. Being in the shade, the sand wasn't hot although the temperature was in the upper 90s. It was nice to be able to sit in the sand!

Playing in the sand (Photo by A. Callahan)
After the swimming, we ordered lunch. The actual restaurant was across the street. A waiter was close by to take orders. He also delivered your order. He spent his entire shift on his feet moving from group to group taking and delivering orders.

Miss J ordered lemonade, and Miss K ordered Fanta for drinks. There were a number of chicken skewers ordered with a side of fries. I enjoyed a club sandwich with fries. The potatoes were grown on Naxos. After lunch some of the family went back in the water.

The beautiful Agean Sea (Photo By B. Knott)

While Bob was paying the bill, his leg gave way. He slipped and scraped his knee. Amanda alerted our driver (James) that it was time for half of us to return to the villa. Miss Ada, Bob, James, Nicole's partner, and I took the first wave home. We relaxed at home waiting for wave two of the family to arrive. After a few days, Bob's shin healed. 

What the beach really looked like (Photo by B. Knott)
Miss K, Miss J, Bob, and I took a dip in the pool just as Amanda, James, and Nicole were leaving for their wine tasting experience and tour at St. Annas. While we did spend a good part of the day at the beach, we still had room in our schedules for more pool time!

Bell at St. Anna's (Photo By J. Callahan) 
After the girls had their fun in the pool it was time for dinner. We ate hot dogs cooked on the grill and potato chips seasoned with oregano. There were vegetables to eat too. Miss Ada was tired after her day so she had her dinner early and went to bed early. At dinner, Bob brought up news about the Titan sub. Miss J was intrigued and wanted to read the story for herself.

Waiting for the wine tasting to begin (Photo By J. Callahan)
After letting dinner settle in our bellies, the girls made room for dessert. they each ate a slice of olive oil cake from our visit to Eggares Olive Press Museum. Then Amanda, James, and Nicole returned from St. Annas bringing back wine. They enjoyed their experience. They had appetizers with their wine selection. 

Olive oil cake (Photo B. Knott)
It was a good day filled with adventure and fun. (Note: Miss K wrote this post and I edited it. I appreciate her helping me recount our trip accurately!)

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Lone Star Quilting Update (post 7)

The points weren't "it"
I spent three weeks in May looking at the Lone Star project pondering where to proceed next with the quilting. At the start of the fourth week, I decided the issue was that an area I had previously quilted wasn't speaking to me. I had stitched it thinking the lines were more contemporary and modern.

Updated space
I decided to rip out the section of the points. I replaced the stitching with another section of curved lines. I also added an echo around the petal shapes. I liked the change. The quilting still feels whimsical and contemporary. Because of the remainders of the car accident, I have been unable to quilt more than 30 minutes at a time. Quilting causes me so much back pain! I found I'm still not strong enough to accurately hold the ruler.

If I continue with the exercises from the PT, maybe I will have less pain. Maybe I will be able to manage a larger ruler. Then again, maybe where I am today is as good as I am going to get. I don't know. My quilting is not as good as it was before the car accident that happened last September. This knowledge causes me sadness.

Adding lines inside the shape
I was beating myself up for my imperfections. The quilting on this project is turning out nothing like I had imagined. I decided to embrace the imperfect quilting. I gave up on the rulers. I eyed the line spacing and free motion quilted it. I pulled out my chalk pencil and drew shapes/lines until I "saw" a path that I wanted to quilt. Perhaps, the more imperfections I create, the less my eye will see them. 

Project progress at the end of May
I like the feeling the quilting is creating. Perhaps, I will even embrace all the imperfections when I've finished. 

A possibility
In June, I looked at this project; but, I wasn't inspired to work on it. During our flight home from Greece, I thought about what was stopping me. I decided holding the rulers was difficult and that was holding up my inspiration for the filler designs. 

This design is better
The first week that I was home, I was watching an episode of The Quilt Show with Sue Nickles and Pat Holly as guests. Sue was sharing machine quilting with ruler techniques on a domestic machine using her own rulers. Her rulers have a sticky type back on them to make it easier to hold the rulers in place.

This is the quilting design
I purchased her straight line ruler and circle wedge set. The sticky back coating on the ruler makes it easier for me to hold as well as the smaller size fits my hand better. It took me some trial and error also known as ripping to determine which wedge was the best size to quilt the diamonds in the Lone Star. It also took me some time to quilt consistently so that the quilted diamond shapes looked related to one another!

Quilting a straight line
Little by little, I'm making progress. I had hoped I could finish quilting the diamonds by the end of August. I will have the red diamonds quilted by then and likely a good start on the green diamonds. I do plan to keep the project in my line of vision. I plan to work on it for as long a session as my body can handle. I look forward to finishing this project!

Quilting a curve
Making progress on the quilting of the Lone Star quilt was goal number three on my August list. I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Greece--Day 5

I was up early on day 5 and James asked if I would like to make a coffee run with him and Amanda. I thought that would be great way to see a little of the town. James had a bakery in mind and we set off. First, the navigation guidance in the car would tell us turn left, turn right. . . okay. . .there is nothing new there. 

View to the kitchen from the living area (Photo B. Knott)
What was new is that there were few street signs. The road made turns so it was a challenge to know if the driver, James, was to follow the road or to turn at the intersection! Some of the intersections were arterial crossings which didn't make one feel like you were going in the correct direction!

Miss A and Miss K playing together (Photo B. Knott)
We arrived at the bakery at seven in the morning. The door was open, a women was inside. We walked in and she immediately started talking to us; but none of us could understand what she was saying. Finally, she walked over to the clock and pointed at the number eight.

Oh. . .the store doesn't open until eight in the morning. There was no sign for open or closed and there were no operating days/hours posted either. But, she did sell us several pastries. . that James thought were day old until he held the bag and realized that they were still warm!

Getting back to town was the adventure. We took a few wrong turns and ended up driving on narrow unpaved roads, through neighborhoods, and several times, we watched while a milk delivery driver stopped took some goods to a house and returned to his truck. Then he had to turn around!!! Oh boy. . .that was a feat!

We did find a coffee shop and we did enjoy the pastries. 

Miss J, Amanda and Miss K playing Twister
We hung out at the villa. There were games of Twister. . .I was out after one round! We swam in the pool twice! We avoided the hot part of the day and we all wore our rash guards to protect our white skin! Miss Ada would see us begin putting on sun screen and she would put out her arm and leg for her sunscreen. She figured out quickly what the process was to get into the pool! 

At then end of our swim session, Mis A put her whole face in the water and I let go of her for a couple of seconds. She loved the feeling of not being held. I'd bring her to the surface of the water and she would immediately sign the word "more" over and over! 

Swimming was the best activity at the villa (Photo A. Callahan)
When it was time to get out, she cried! This time, we wrapped her in a towel and let her warm up a bit. She was happy to get back in the water for another round of play!

View at the end of the pool
For lunch we had chicken salad. Nicole bought the cooked rotisserie chicken at the supermarket. The tomatoes are delicious in Greece. For dinner, Bob grilled chicken legs and he grilled a few chicken kebabs. it was all good. James made a killer orzo salad. We also had few leftovers which was also great!

Orzo salad (photo N. Knott)
(Note: Miss K edited this post. I appreciate her willingness to help me present an accurate accounting of our trip!)

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sleepover Number One

Putting the finishing touches on the blueberry pie
Miss J arrived for an overnight or sleepover. This was part one of goal number two on my August list. At nine, we are already at a time in her life where her schedule is full with activities. To have her for uninterrupted time is a treasure. She gets to plan the majority of our activities and menus. 

Adding ice water to the hummus
Dinner request Sunday evening was Papa's spaghetti. He makes a great sauce augmented from canned spaghetti sauce from the market and provides sausage as the meat. He pairs the sauce with lots of pasta. He has the kid palette down! Plus, there are leftovers which is real bonus when it comes to lunch the following day!

Finished hummus (photo Miss J)
I asked for design help. Miss J has a terrific eye for color and shape. She has a particular idea about how particular pieces interact and she has a wonderful sense of color. We made a plan for the following day which would begin with sourdough pancakes and bacon. We had planned to visit the sew day with my Mystery Maven group; even though we were packed and ready to go, we didn't.

Doodling more square in a square designs
My wallet had been stolen the previous day while I was teaching a course, The time it took to cancel a credit card, to order replacement health cards, to order a replacement driving license was about three hours. Then, I spent some time updating all the automatic pay accounts that were associated with the credit card. 

Miss J's doodle of square in a square
My husband, took the lead on the credit card. It was a Chase credit card. He had to go in person to request a new card and had he not had a power of attorney, he wouldn't have been able to replace my card because I had to be present to request a new card. Goodness. . .times and rules change!

Miss J's drawing of a larger size of her doodle
Replacing the key fob for the car was the most expensive. Again, my husband took on this replacement. He called the car dealership and made an appointment for the replacement. He was quoted an hour to wait for the programming; but, it took closer to two hours. While the wallet experience was painful, no one was injured. It will take about a month for the various replacement cards to arrive in my post office box. 

More square in a square doodles
While I'm sorry that I didn't get to introduce Miss J to my small group, my creative juices were shot. We decided a short walk with the dog and lunch would be our next steps. After lunch, she helped me with my square in a square challenge. Playing with more layouts was goal number six on my August list.

Drawing a larger size of a doodle
She looked at my doodles. She drew a couple doodles to add to my pile. I was stuck coming up with a design; but, seeing her take on the challenge had me augmenting a previous design. Actually, I drew in quilting lines. While I liked the "new" take on the design, the design wasn't the "one." She asked me questions about the challenge. I said I wanted to try a modern design. She didn't know what a modern design was, so we looked at examples on Pinterest.

Auditioning a red center
Miss J suggested I blow up a doodle that I thought had potential and to color it in. I did. As I worked, I felt like this design could be the one. When I finished, she gave me the affirmative. I thought that perhaps, the yellow was too strong. She suggested I switch the block to red. I liked that option. This is the design that I plan to make into a top. As of publishing this post, I'm undecided on the color of the center square. Playing with layouts for the challenge was goal number six on my August list. With Miss J's help, I exceeded that goal!

Miss j and her inchies
We had Papa burgers and tater tots for dinner. Earlier in the day, we made a fresh blueberry pie. This recipe has you place fresh berries in a baked pie shell. You cover the berries with a mixture of sugar, mashed berries, water and cornstarch that has boiled for a minute and cooled. Last, you place a few fresh berries on top of the mixture. The whole pie is refrigerated and is ready to eat in about three hours. It tasted great!

My inchies
We also made hummus so we had a "dip" for our vegetables. My hummus recipe makes a large batch so we split it so she could take some home!

Inchies I created this week
After dinner, we made our plan for the following day and I told a few bedtime stories. She likes to hear mama and auntie stories! The next morning, we made blueberry muffins and then played a bit with the inchie challenge that Rachel at Mindful Art Studio is doing for the next week. She supplies a prompt each day and you draw what comes to mind on a two inch square piece of watercolor paper.
House block layout with some "parts"
Rachel's prompts were frothy and woven. We made a second of those prompts. Then Miss J suggested that we each choose a prompt. She chose vibrate and I chose lace. After we drew, we added color with watercolor paints. Miss J was interested in continuing with the challenge. Each day I have forwarded the e-mail with the prompt to her mama. I have seen what she drew. I wish I had a photo as she interpreted each prompt in an interesting way. We both said that we will likely add some color to our examples. 

For a long time, I tried to draw a few minutes each day. For the last several years, I haven't. I've missed the play. Perhaps, I'll figure out how to add it back into my routine.

Auditioning fabrics for sashing/coping strips
After we drew, she helped me with layout options with my friend Martha's house blocks. The inspiration for using these blocks came from reading the book, "Strangers in the Night" by Pat Rushford. Pat is a member of our Thread Tales book club, the leader of the book choice this month and the author! I so enjoyed listening to Pat talk about how she developed the characters as well as telling the group about her writing journey. 

In the book, one of the characters is deciding to buy a property that used to be a town. The character is considering turning the site into an artist's colony. I thought of my friend Martha's blocks. When she turned 70, she asked our small group, WIPs (Works In Progress), to make her a house block. That was 2013! After she died, my friend, Pat, thought that she would make a quilt from the blocks; but, decided it was not a project she wanted to prioritize. She gave the blocks to me. Coming up with a design/layout was goal number seven on my August list.

Backing and binding fabrics
for Positively Grows
Finally, she helped me pick backing fabrics for the Positively Grows quilt which was goal number eight on my August list. I like the choices we made. Having Miss J say yay or nay to various options was great. It was also a quick process! I had a fabulous time and I hope she did too. All too soon our time together was over and she was off to soccer practice with her mom. I'm already looking forward to our next sleepover!!!

The fabrics shown in this post are either scraps or stash. I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework. Pour yourself a cuppa and see what other people are making out of their scraps!