Monday, October 27, 2008

Annelies, This ones for you - Las Vegas Style!

These three fat fellows sat atop the entrance to the Koi Sushi Restaurant in Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

As soon as I saw them I thought of Annelies van den Berg and her "Hear no evil" collection. These guys were about four feet tall and about 15 feet up in the air. You had to walk right under them to get into the restaurant. We went to Koi for sushi our last night in Vegas and it was very good, not as good as our favorite sushi place in Fort Worth, but still very good!

International Siggy Swap

When I came back from vacation in Las Vegas last month there were 8 siggies waiting for me in the mail. I had to get busy! I finally got them scanned so here they are (including this first one which I just got last week):

Friday, October 24, 2008

Christmas Siggies Completed and Mailed

October 1st seemed so far away back in May when I signed up for the Christmas Siggy Swap and it was so close in September when we got back from Las Vegas. I didn't work on anything else for at least two weeks because I had all 160 siggies left to make! I used two different kinds of Laurel Burch fabric, red with stars and turquoise with pretty Christmas stockings on it.

The red fabric wasn't this bright of a red in reality; it shaded more towards maroon. I used both unbleached and bleached muslin for the centers. I think I made 100 of the reds and 65 of the turquoise. I managed to get about 90 of them embellished with beads as shown, which really made them look like Christmas! (And yes, I know that adds up to 165 siggies. At the last minute Judi (the swapper queen) asked us to make 5 more if we could, to donate to people who couldn't make their own siggies due to sad circumstances in their lives. What's 5 more when you're already at 160, so 165 it was.)

I made myself an alignment template for stitching up the blocks. It was so easy to use that Larry started lining them up for me to sew. That was a huge help! Thanks DH, it would have taken lots more time without you! I really liked how the turquoise ones came out. I wish I could have embellished them all, but I ran out of both beads and time. I'm really looking forward to getting back all the swapped siggies - should be any day now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We walked the Sky at the Grand Canyon Skywalk

I had been fascinated by reports of the Skywalk being built on the Hualapai Reservation at Grand Canyon West long before it was complete. In fact, several years ago I checked it out on because the only available pictures of it were artists' representations and it was rumored to be a hoax! I'm happy to report that it is as real as a heart attack but lots more fun!

Grand Canyon West is located several hours east of Las Vegas, past the Hoover Dam and pretty much completely in the absolute middle of nowhere. The roads are good until you get on the county road 21 miles from the Skywalk. The first 14 miles of that stretch is a horrible washboard of a gravel road. No houses, no turn-offs no nothing. Absolutely miserable and I REALLY had to pee! We went very slowly, like less than 20 miles per hour to avoid tearing out the bottom of our rental car. We thought it was going to be like that the entire way to the Skywalk, but at mile 14 we crossed onto the Hualapai reservation and lovely smooth blacktop roads. Heaven. We later heard that both the state of Arizona and the Hualapai have put up their 6 million dollars to improve the bad road, but the county isn't coughing up its share.

We got there in the late afternoon and decided to take our turn out on the Skywalk right away. We parked in the designated area near the 'airport' and took the bus to the glass bridge. There was hardly anyone there and we had the place almost all to ourselves. I was pretty scared, but there was no way I was going to chicken out now. I looked straight ahead for the first 15-20 feet until I was directly over the 4000' abyss, then I looked straight down. It was a heartpoundingly spectacular view! They locked up all your personal effects (purse, camera, keys etc.) and gave you surgical booties to put over your shoes to keep the glass nice and clean. They had us wear the booties inside out and were they ever slippery! We sat down and reversed them so the grippy side pointed outwards and then it was lots better. (You really don't want to feel like you're falling on your butt at 4000 feet.) It was really cool to see birds fly below us. And the view was incredible. We had our picture taken where you can see the depths of the canyon below us. It was an experience I'll never forget as long as I live. I felt very brave to overcome my natural fear of heights and do it anyway. I highly recommend it!

We had reserved the Tranquility Package, which included both the Skywalk and a night at the Hualapai Ranch in one of their cabins. It was tranquil all right. We were there the night Ike hit Galveston and we had no TV, no radio, no phones and no cell phone reception. We didn't find out whether or not Galveston was still standing until tourists started trickling in the next day.

The accomodations were pretty basic, especially after living at the Venetian for a week.

The bed in the cabin with its combination AC/heat pump which doubled as a blow dryer in the morning. I think it's important to stay flexible and innovative while on vacation. lol

Here's the bed in our suite at the Venetian (with its 3 count'em 3 flat screen tv's. I mean, do you really need a flat screen tv while you're brushing your teeth? It was luxurious like I had never seen before!)

One thing special about the Hualapai ranch (besides the food, which was included in the price and EXCELLENT) was Norman. Remember the 80's movie, City Slickers, with Billy Crystal and how he came back to New York with a calf? That's Norman. He's ALL grown up now and on display at the ranch. Speaking of all grown up, did you know that Norman's co-star in the movie is none other than Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Billy Crystal's 10 year old son

Apparently Norman is still doing a little light cattle driving - days only. He seemed kinda grumpy while we were there, he didn't want to have his picture taken, even though he's a very handsome fellow. I think I got his Shirley Temple side in this shot.

They served excellent chow under the watchful eyes of this catamount. It was the best biscuits and gravy I have ever had. Apparently cholesterol doesn't concern the Hualapai, for which Larry and I were both thankful!

This tiny little horse was just adorable.There were lots of activities going on during the day at the ranch, I would think kids would have a ball. I seem to recall periodic cowboy gun battles and lots of horse back riding.

And on Friday night we had a campfire with an elder of the tribe. He told us stories (there were about 12 of us staying at the ranch) and answered any questions we had about the area and the tribe. He was very interesting and it was lots of fun. They had the makings for s'mores too. I think they've done this before! lol All the people that worked there (cowboys and indians) were exceptionally friendly and outgoing. They are obviously trying very hard to make your visit a pleasant one.

Larry and I hiked by ourselves to the rim from our cabin in the morning. The view was spectacular. It was amazing, no electrical wires or any signs of humanity for as far as the eye could see. The sky was frequently thick with helicopters though, they flitted around like big metal dragonflies.

Fantasy Pony - Complete!

I didn't get much blogging done since we got back from Vegas, but I did finally finish the Fantasy Pony quilt. I was very pleased with the results; I think it turned out very cool.

The center is a panel (of course) though non-quilters might think it's not. I learned an important lesson about working with panels: Always buy two more rows of pictures than you are going to need. That way you can use the entire surrounding fabric in the quilt and your borders will be nicely distanced from the center panel. I only bought one extra row of pictures, and the cutting lady evenly divided up the turquoise between the pictures and I got half. This half frayed down to almost nothing during the pre-wash, so I ended up attaching some extra turquoise (about a half inch) to the top and bottom of the panel so I would have some turquoise between the yellow of the panels and the green of the first border. What a pain!

Here's a detail of the corner. I used all the Sally Collin's "Perfect Piecing" methods that I could and the quilt came out much squarer than normal. 8-) It's draping here, but it was actually quite square (though not up to Sally's standards, of course.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Las Vegas Quilt Shop Hop - the final day

After Larry's conference at the Venetian was over we headed out past Hoover Dam to the new Hualapai Sky Bridge to spend the night on the reservation. On the way out of Vegas we stopped in two lovely, very different quilt shops.

Quiltique was very bright and modern, with white walls and lots of beautifully displayed quilts. They were a Bernina dealer (yeah Bernina) and one of their display quilts showcased the most amazing machine embroidery I have ever seen. Each block was thoroughly embroidered, as were the borders. It was very lovely. I would have loved to have taken pictures of it to show you, but Quiltique has a policy of "no pictures"! I was very surprised. This was the first time I had ever run into that! Most stores are eager to be showcased on any blog (free publicity anyone?) or are simply so friendly that they are happy to accommodate us happy snappers. Anyway, their reasoning was that someone could steal the idea or pattern for one of their displayed quilts from a picture on my blog and, therefore, allowing pictures was just too risky. I thought it was funny. I can't imagine anyone trying to recreate a quilt using a fuzzy picture from my blog. lol Especially since the pictures I post tend to reflect the most elaborate designs and intricate detailing (like their machine embroidered quilt - try to recreate that one from just a picture!) It was a very nice store with a lovely selection of fabric, but they lost points with their attitude. Before he was stopped, Larry actually took several lovely general pictures of the store, which don't showcase closeups of any particular quilt, but out of respect for their policy I'm not going to post them.

I managed to find lots of stuff to buy, including these lovely batiks (of which they had a fabulous selection). I decided to make one of my bag patterns in black and white and red, so I'm all set with these three bold fabrics. I just love how they play off of each other.

I also bought this silk collection for a neat little clutch purse. This silk collection is called "Silk Adaptation" by Mary Jo Hiney Designs. It contains seven 7.5" x 10.5" silk fabric pieces. I just fell in love with the color mix - all those beautiful bluey lavenders!

They really had lots of great little fabric collections for sale; I couldn't resist them at all.
This beauty is called by the unlovely name of "Grab Bag" All 22 pieces are handpainted and 100% cotton and at least 4.5" wide and 21" long. "Grab Bag" is a product of I'm not sure just what I'm going to do with it, but it certainly will make a spectacular "something"!

Fiddlesticks was a tiny little shop a few miles out from Las Vegas that was just crammed with goodies.

The ladies at Fiddlesticks were exceptionally friendly (you know, normal) and had worked wonders within their small space. While we were there they were massively busy putting together quilting kits which would be presented each in their own old-fashioned tiny little suitcase. They were trying to get them put together for a class that was coming up or a quilt show or something, I don't remember. I didn't care for the quilt itself too much (Larry didn't get a picture of it, so I guess he wasn't attracted to it either) but the presentation in the little case was just darling!

Somebody does lovely little flying geese (see above). I wonder if they used Thangles? Probably not since more than 2 fabrics were used.

I found lots of stuff to buy here too. Some more batiks, including this 2 1/8 yard piece of pink flowers on blues in the remnant bin for only $8.91. What a great deal. I was afraid it was mismarked, but she just rang it right up. I honestly can't think anymore what I intended to do with the fat quarter of bug fabric. I must have had some plan and I'm sure it was ultra cheap, but for the life of me I don't know why it came home with me!

This concludes the Las Vegas Quilt Shop and Wedding Chapel Hop! It's been a slice!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Las Vegas Wedding Chapel Hop

We stayed first at Planet Hollywood, which used to be The Aladdin, which was where Elvis married Priscilla so long ago. PH has a lovely wedding chapel, with attractive pricing, but nothing that can compare with the wedding chapels at The Venetian (where we stayed during Larry's conference.)

The Venetian chapels (there were three) were very nice. All three looked out over the 10th floor Venetia garden/pool area. The Venetian believed in decorating with live orchids (including the bathroom in our room) but they really outdid themselves in the chapels.

Here is the area behind the chapels. It's all done up in granite, marble and orchids.

Lots and lots of orchids! All very real, all very lovely.

At the Venetian, you also had the option of using the Wedding Gondola, which was this beautiful white gondola. I never saw it in operation during our stay, though it was one of the less expensive wedding package options. I somehow can't see Mom and Al cruising down the Venetian canals being serenaded by their singing gondolier, but Mom would fit right in amongst all the orchids upstairs!

The Venetian was just spectacular on all levels. Here is the lobby, which IMHO gives the Cistene Chapel a run for its money. It was just delux all the way through. I was very, very impressed!

Words fail me. And this was only the main lobby. As I said before, the Venezia Tower had it's own lobby on the tenth floor, which was smaller, but just as opulent.

Here is the lobby of the Venezia. You have to take the elevator from the main Venetian lobby up to the tenth floor, then there's the Venezia lobby. I had never heard of a lobby being on the tenth floor before.

Here is a detail of the Venezia lobby ceiling. Totally amazing. I think Mom and Al should have their wedding here!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Las Vegas Wedding Chapel Search and Quilt Shop Hop - Day 2

I found out on Saturday that Fabric Boutique was open on Sunday, so we decided to go there then. Fabric Boutique is a big beautiful shop, with lots and lots of bolts of fabric. The store is very attractive, with nice high ceilings. They have lots of beautiful things on display that I had never seen before. One of the most interesting things about shop hops is how unique each store is. Sure, some of the stores may share, say, a civil war flavor or a Laurel Burch sophistication, but the products each store carries are overwhelmingly unique. I think this speaks very well of the creativity and individuality of quilters as a whole.

I've been seeing the fabulous bags that people have been blogging about for a long time now, and today I finally succumbed to the temptation. I bought two different bag patterns at Fabric Boutique - they had a very large selection. One of the patterns is for a medium-sized tote bag; I bought the coordinated stack of gold batik fat quarters to use for it, well, part of it at least! I'm still looking for a coordinating darker batik for the straps. After all, I have two more stores in this hop!

I found the Laurel Burch Christmas fabric that I wanted to use on my Christmas siggies for the swap (due October 1st!) I bought these additional fat quarters of it; I decided not to buy additional yardage, because I still like the secondary fabric I chose at my LQS. I also bought this beautiful jewel toned fabric. It has a definite stripe to it. I've been planning to make a small quilt using a striped fabric and alternating the direction of the stripe to make a basket-weave pattern. I saw one of these basket-weave quilts in Albuquerque and have been looking for an appropriate striped fabric ever since with no luck. I saw this fabric today and just fell in love with it. Unfortunately, lots of other people fell in love with it before me and there wasn't much left. I may have to improvise. Here are my Fabrique Boutique fabric purchases.

I'm not surprised Larry gravitated to this dragon quilt wall hanging. We fell in love playing D&D in college, so this well-crafted lizzard was sure to catch his eye. (Though if he keeps taking pictures of me from the BACK he's going to see the dragon lady in me!)

Here's another one that caught my blackjack-loving husband's eye. I wonder if he noticed the name of the pattern was called "Card Trick" or if he just gravitated to the Las Vegas sign fabric, which, I think, is available at nearly every quilt store in Vegas.

I identified another one of Larry's hidden talents. He is an exceptional fabric folder! Fabric Boutique has a large scrap bin with a box of sandwich baggies next to it. All the fabric you can stuff in the bag and close it without it splitting costs $3.00. I selected the scraps and Larry neatly folded them into the bag. I was going after brights and I think I found all that were in the bin. Larry got an amazing amount of fabric into that tiny bag. It is completely stuffed and weighs about a half pound. I was very impressed with his technique!

Wedding Chapel Hop - Stop 1 - The Little Church of the West

On our way into Vegas yesterday, we noticed a quaint little stand-alone chapel on the Strip, very close to the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. We went back there today and looked around. This chapel has been around since the 40's and has a somewhat western theme. It was very cute and would be a very economical choice. Their packages started at less than $500.

The interior was very dark after the bright Vegas sunshine. Now if Mom and Al fancied a victorian wedding (and nothing could be less likely) this would be just the place!

There's no arguing that it's conveniently located near the airport, with the best parking on the strip, but somehow, I think I had better keep looking...

 a minute. All this shopping and hopping is tiring!