Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in South Carolina

Two kids still sleeping and one totally engrossed in an XBox game.
Hubby back to work.
Laundry piled up higher than it has any right to be.
Turtles still on the kitchen counter (good friend helped take care of them and the cats while Lady was enjoying the week at Mimi's).
Boxes and detritis everywhere.
I'm still in my jammies and it's almost 10:00 in the am.

Must be the holiday aftermath.

I can now share why the blogging vacation...a real life vacation with the family.
We started off the last day of school on the 16th by driving down to Knoxville, TN to spend the night.  We got up Saturday morning and headed into the Smokey Mountains.

Among beautiful vistas at overlooks, waterfalls on the side of the road, and icicles in the higher elevations, we saw a mama Black Bear and three cubs.  We've decided we probably were less than a hundred yards from them!  Truly a once in a lifetime experience.  We decided to stay in Gatlinburg on our return trip which saw us getting home about 10:30 Christmas Eve.  Quick wrapping up of gifts, buying some milk for breakfast and waking up in our own beds Christmas morning.  I didn't put up any Christmas decorations, put a minimal emphasis on gift buying and we are sending out Happy New Year cards instead of Christmas cards.

We continued driving until late Saturday night's arrival on Hilton Head, SC.  Let me tell you, five people packed into a Honda Civic for that long is nothing short of miraculous and tedious!  But it was well worth it.

The sunrise outside our window.

The sunset on the beach.

It was a little too cold to swim in the Atlantic, but we waded a little here and there as the temperatures rose through the week.

We hit all the highlights on Hilton Head.  I think we visited every beach and shopped and ate until we were almost too tired to go out at night and watch shooting stars out over the ocean.  While hubs and I were stargazing, the boys took their flashlights (no worries, turtles are nowhere near HH right now) to look for shells and shark teeth during low tide.

This picture appears on hub's Facebook page with the text: Bait.

Thankfully, we saw no alligators on our little nature trail walk.

This year's unofficial theme for homeschool coop has been all about US history.  Right now, the senior high kids are studying the early history of the US and were reading about and learning about the Revolutionary War before we left.  This part of the country is just full of stories, historical sites and remembrances of these times.

We learned about several massacres and ambushes on the island and visited a small cemetary at the end of the road our condo was on.

I have lived in the Midwest almost all my life and was just in awe of the age of some of the sites we visited.  The joke was that other families do touristy type things on their vacations and we visit cemetaries.  LOL  We probably went through 4-5 throughout the trip.  We learned life in early America was often harsh and ended young for far too many.  Lots of graves of infants, young children and mothers.  Makes you really appreciate the times we live in with modern medical diagnosis and treatment.

We journeyed through Beaufort, SC which has the distinction of being the second landing site of Europeans in this area in 1514.  St. Augustine is older by only a year.

One of the cannons guarding the harbor.

A beautiful home in Beaufort decorated for Christmas.

Hubs caught site of this church as we were driving through the local area.  So we backtracked, parked and walked out to the ruin and...of course...the cemetary.

Old Sheldon Church has its beginnings in the 1740's and was burned by the British and Sherman. 

William Bull was born in 1683 and died in 1755.  Such a small testament to what reads as a very long and full life.

Another day was spent in Savannah, Georgia.  We took a trolley tour around the historic squares and along the river.

Forsyth Fountain created in 1858.

Inside the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

The oldest house in Savannah which was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Here in corn country, we don't see many street vendors and hawkers.  We did buy Palmetto Roses and Bean was serenaded with an "ole negro spiritual" by someone looking suspiciously a lot like Santa on vacation before Christmas.

Our chocoholic was tempted to just bury his face in a barrel of candy kisses at a candy shoppe housed in one of the city's old cotten market offices along the river.

Some gratituous beach pictures.
I can't even begin to tell you how much we all needed this vacation.  Bean has been having issues with some bullies in his class at school, Middleman has had a tough schedule so far in his sophomore year, Javi has been taking more than a full load of classes the last three semesters and hubs and I have had our fair share of difficult times this last year.  That sounds bad.  LOL  Not with each other, just in some of the struggles and challenges we each face at work, school and being part of a family.  We're not sure when the next family vacation will be.  2012 will see both older boys working through the summer (maybe away from home and/or out of the country) and as our family grows up...we never know how much time we have left with all of us still at home and able to vacation together.  We cherished this time together and the thought of not having this time again helped get us through the inevitable squabbles that come with having three boys.

Thanks for sharing in our family vacation.

And from our family to yours:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I was visiting Nanette at her blog, Freda's Hive, and came across this picture she took.

I'm going on a blogging vacation for a week or two to enjoy time with my hubby sweets and children three.

Dear friends and family,
May your days be merry and bright and filled with all of God's deepest and richest blessings.
I know that I am blessed by what you say and share with me here.
What rays of sunshine and happiness you all are in my corner of the world.
Thank you.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jack's Chain Fabric Tuesday

I was just blown away when I clicked on Sandi Henderson's blog and saw this

as a giveaway. 
Do you know what pattern that is?
Jack's Chain.
How weird and cool is that!  I'm so excited to find another picture of a completed project using this pattern.  And this is just beautiful!  Beautiful!  I found a bag of way cool fabric for $1 at our LQS yesterday and decided I like it with the Hunky Dory colors I have....hmmmmm.

Also found this softly lovely by Hazel.  The story behind this piece celebrating renewal is breathtaking and inspiring.

I love being able to read through blogs and make a connection with the authors not only on a quiltey level, but on a deeper level as well.  What a privilege when stories, hearts, emotions and histories are shared.  From all over the world, women speaking a common language using needle and thread...and their love of quilting.

This week I've working on more nine patch blocks for the Jack's Chain I'm making.  I originally found the pattern at Quilter's Cache.  I thought QC's instructions were fairly simple and easy to follow, but I wouldn't mind taking a look at the Quilter's Club book to see their instructions. 

I started with 1 1/2" wide strips from a jelly roll of Moda's Hunky Dory and 1 1/2" wide strips of white.  Using a 1/4" seam, I sewed two white strips to one of the Hunky Dory strips, and sewed two of the Hunky Dory strips to a white one so cutting and sewing the nine patches needed would be easier.

Here is what your new strips should look like.  The one that has the two Hunky Dory strips on the outside will be the outside units of the nine patch and the strip with two white pices will be the center unit of the nine patch.  Careful pressing keeping the seams as straight as possible will help keep the nine patches from being wonky later on.

Go ahead and true up one side of the newly sewn strip so you're rotary cutting will be even.

Now cut 1 1/2" wide units from the strip.  You need to make sure your horizontal seams and vertical cuts are right on the money with your ruler or you'll have wonky nine patch units.  Not recommended!  LOL 

Here are your strips cut into units you will use to make the nine patch. 

Lay out your units to make the nine patch and sew together, again with a 1/4" seam.  Carefully press the nine patch keeping the block as evenly square as possible.

Now you need to square up your nine patch block with your ruler and rotary cutter to 3 1/2".

Next time I'll be working on adding these new nine patch blocks with a triangle and hexagon to the quilt.

Today I'm linking up with Heather and Megan at Quilt Story for my very first Fabric Tuesday.  Through the winter here in can get really dark, gray and depressing.  I love the linky parties that let me have snippets of sunshine peak through with all the bright, happy and cheerful projects other quilters share!

I'm also linking up with Kimberlee for my first Finished It Friday so there's lots to so and see when you follow the links and see all the other beautiful projects!