Thursday, May 21, 2015

Neptune's Garden

Allergy season is definitely upon us.  But that doesn't keep quilters away from their sewing machines!  A number of quilters in my online groups have been posting messages about their creative efforts while feeling under the weather these past few weeks.  Add me to the list.

At the end of last week I dragged my runny nose (along with the rest of me) to the cutting/pressing table.  With watery eyes I figured out the cutting instructions for my Florida quilt "Neptune's Garden". 

By day's end on Friday I had all the pieces cut and labelled. Except for cutting for the final two borders.  The pattern called for a narrow border and then a 5" wide border.  I always have issues with wide non pieced borders.  No matter how carefully I measure the quilt, they always seem to have "waves" when I go to quilt the top.  I decided to wait before cutting the fabric.

 With our weekly breakfast out, grocery shopping (and putting groceries away) finished, I headed back into the sewing room.  By Sunday evening the top only had two more borders to be added.  Eight more seams!  I just couldn't do it. It had to wait until Monday. 

Naturally I couldn't sleep because the unfinished top was calling.  "How could you leave me with just 8 more seams to do?"  (Plus worrying about a sick cat kept me away as well.)  By 5:30 am I was back in the sewing room cutting the final two borders - both narrow ones.  And by 7:30 am the top was finished, including the final pressing.

Now to start quilting the top on the frame so I can get this one on.  I'm really looking forward to finishing this quilt.  The designer's instructions were great.  Even my head stuffed up with allergies, it was fun to work on.  And because the quilt shop was more than generous with the amount of fabric in their kit, I naturally did not have any cutting or sewing issues.  (We all know what happens when you have "just" enough fabric when working on a project!  Murphy's Law".)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mason Bees

Our bees are here.  At the moment they are still in the fridge until it's warmer outside and there are more flowers for them.  We are hoping that they can go out this weekend.  Monday at the latest.

Here's a couple of photos to show the size of the box they come in and what's in the box....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Vacation time is for the garden, bees and sewing

When we go on a vacation we plan.  A lot.  Then there is the actual vacation.  After that is finishing the travel journal, organizing almost 2000 photos and boring family and friends with stories of our travels.  It's all very time consuming.

Add to that, coming home to a sick kitty.  Tina, who is now 17 years old, did not do well at the cat "resort" she was at.  And she is missing her companion of 17 years, Ba'el.  Tina's blood tests show some issues, but her kidneys and thyroid are working just fine.  No diabetes which is what they are sure they will find every time they run tests.  But she has a white cell count that is so high she shouldn't be alive.  So this has been a very long couple of weeks.

On the good news front we managed to find someone who would sell us 30 mason bees!  They are in the fridge right now!  We're just waiting for the weather to be a bit warmer before putting them out.  And for the plants we put in for the bees to have more flowers.  If you don't make your yard attractive for the bees, they just buzz off... with no thanks for bringing them to visit.  So we have the flowers, water that they can access, bee houses and the clay they use to protect the baby bees.  Here's hoping they stay.

I actually had time to get into the sewing room.  The Pumpkin Patch Lane blocks for this month were waiting for me.  And it was a challenge.  Four borders and four corner blocks.  Pieced and applique.

 So here's how the quilt top is shaping up:

One more month (and the final border) and all the piecing and applique will be done and then I'll be figuring out how I want to quilt it.

Needing a break from applique, I started my "Florida" quilt.  If I remember correctly it's actually called Neptune's Garden.  But to me, it says "Florida". 

I purchased a kit that was made up at a local quilt shop.  They are very generous in their measurements.  Which I appreciate since I always have "issues" that I have to correct. 

Since I knew the shop had substituted two fabrics from what is shown in the pattern, I decided to measure what I had received to see what fabric was to be used for what part of the pattern.  I usually don't do this.  There are stickers on the fabric when I get it that tell me what a particular piece of fabric is to be used for.  It's a good thing that I measured the yardage before I started cutting.  Several fabric were labelled incorrectly.  Most likely the little stickers fell off in the packaging.  Imagine needing to cut fifteen 2.5" strips only to find you run out of fabric after 10 strips.  Would have been a challenge to figure out what to do next to save the quilt.

Hopefully I will have a quilt top to post by the weekend.  This top is straight sewing, no applique.  So hopefully it goes together quickly.  Even if it doesn't, it's great to be back in the sewing room.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

WDW Wrap Up - Food costs

Cost of eating at Walt Disney World

I often hear that it's so expensive to eat at WDW.  Here's a few examples of what we had:

Suzanne's favourite breakfast:  oatmeal $2.79, 
One of Mom's and my favourite: Bounty Platter  $8.99
(really feeds 3)  Includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potato casserole, French toast and a buttermilk biscuit

Lunch:  Chilli $3.99, soups $3.29 to $3.99, 
Create your own burger $11.49 (comes with salad or house made fries), 
meatball sub $9.69 (includes house made chips or pasta salad or coleslaw)

Dinner:  Poppin Nachoes with cornscoops $6.99 (easily feeds 2), Baked veggie pasts $9.19 (easily feeds 2)
Pot roast with vegetables and potatoes $10.29 (again, will feed 2)

At the sit down restaurants we went to, we paid from $16 to $30 for meals.  The meals are huge enough that if two people agree on what to have, then share!  The Disney owned restaurants have no issue with guests sharing meals.  

The refillable mugs that we purchased for $17 were used...a lot.
Two cups of coffee a morning, iced tea, sodas or lemonade when ever we were back at the resorts made the cost of the mugs a bargain.  When we knew we were going to be checking out a resort that had a quick service, we took the mugs with us so we didn't pay for beverages.

WDW Trip Wrap Up - Costs

Now it's time to figure out as much as possible for trip costs. This helps to plan for any future trips, so it's worth the time (and sticker shock).

Annual pass for myself was $675.21 US A lot, but it did get us some discounts on tours, some restaurants and souvenirs. And the biggie...discounts on rooms.

Universal Park costs for four people – one day Park to Park (which we needed so we could ride the train) was $167.14 CDN per person.

Mom got a Canadian only deal for her park ticket. 10 day with park hopper for $430 US - worked out to $43 per day to get into the parks.

After Mike from Magic For Less and his co-workers finished applying every discount they could, Mom and I paid $150 per night for our room.   (note, this was not during value season - but at Easter)

The guys got a package deal....they paid $220. per night that included 10 day park hopper tickets for each of them.

Using Magic for Less saved the guys $549.08 US and the ladies $527.78 US because the agent (Mike) automatically applied any discount Disney offered to our trip. Without our asking. We'd then get an e-mail telling us what our new total cost would be.

WDW Trip Wrap Up - Almost Forgot To Write About

There were ducks, rabbits and lizards as usual. But a lot more squirrels than we normally see. Including one that had a great routine outside Space Ship Earth. He/she would start at the first stroller parked outside the ride. Check out the seat, all pockets, the storage areas on the handle bar, then move on to the next stroller. Never touching the ground, he'd jump over to the next stroller in the line up. And there were well over 40 strollers in the stroller parking area. We laughed so hard. It reminded Mom of when the squirrel chewed through Dad's golf bag to help himself to Dad's cinnamon bun many years ago.

There were quite a few “friendly” ducks at the Classic Hall for breakfast (almost any time of day really). But they were not as persistent as the starlings. Those opportunists would fly into the food court causing staff to stop what they were doing and work on getting them out. And they'd help themselves to food on guests plates. The bird would sit on the back of the chair to make like they were one of the family. One day Mom turned her head to look at a duck by her feet and a starling took off with a whole piece of french toast! We tried to always sit outside as the weather was lovely and the food court was noisy enough that it was difficult to have a conversation. Although I note that hundreds of people each day don't seem to have an issue with the noise. The food court was always full except for early morning. And there were always tables available outside and there weren't that many tables there. Personally I liked sitting outside because they don't let the ducks come in. And I like ducks.

The kids provided a great deal of opportunity for fun on the trip. Singing to us because of our Birthday Pins. Getting so excited when they had their photos taken with their favourite characters. The little girl at the butterfly house who refused to move until a butterfly landed on her. She was standing perfectly still, arm out before we got there and was still standing there by the time we had finished touring the area and taking a lot of photos.

And the princesses and pirates! The kids that got dressed up were so much fun. Next time I go, I am going to take a photo album to ask for their signatures. No photos as that would be creepy having random strangers taking your child's photo. But to ask for their autograph just might make a little one's day.

Jeff had ordered custom stickers for our Magic Bands. These were a hit, not only with us, but with the CM's. Every time I went to pay for something at one of the resorts, the CM would call over co workers to show them. “How come Pop Century has a resort specific band? When will we get one?” Managers would ask if the bands were new items at Pop. I'd be trying to explain that these were stickers ordered from “Magic My Band” off the internet. The bands were real conversation starters. And these stickers even held up with going into the swimming pool!

The Animal Kingdom backpacks did get a bit of attention. There were several photos taken of them. And one CM caught up to us on our second visit to Animal Kingdom. She had noticed us the first day but had been busy with some guests. So when she spotted us again she made sure to talk to us. Apparently there were a number of CM's talking about the bags in the break room.

We realized the importance of decorating our resort room windows when Suzanne was woken up by a drunk insisting that she should open the door as the drunk was sure it was her room. Some balloons in the window identified the room easily. Not only for her, but told others that it wasn't their room.

I managed to get most of our decorations up before Mom noticed. It was a fun surprise for her birthday. Then Jeff topped it by adding LED magnetic lights around the outside of our door for my birthday. Some of them were still working by the time we left!

WDW Trip Wrap Up-Luxury of time?

It was a good trip. Unfortunately we convinced ourselves that because it was for 14 nights, that we had the luxury of time. So we kept postponing things. Because of this we never went to Magic Kingdom to see the evening parade at Magic Kingdom. One of our favourites: Main Street Electrical Parade.

We had hoped to take in some resort tours. Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Boardwalk Resort tours for example. That was always left for another day.  And never happened.

We had also wanted to join in for the lady bug release at the Grand Floridian kitchen garden. Didn't happen.

At Animal Kingdom we missed seeing Divine. But I noted that she wasn't listed on the daily show schedule. So maybe we were there on the wrong days. The guys missed out on the Winged Encounters. Jeff was the only guy to go with us for It's Tough to be a Bug and walking The Maharaja Jungle Trek.

At EPCOT we meant to do Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. Then there are live shows at a number of pavilions: Canada-Lumberjacks, United Kingdom-Brithish Revolution and the Paul McKenna Band. France-Serveur Amusant. Morocco-B'net Al Houwarlyate. Italy-Sbandieratori Di Sensepolcro and Sergio. China-Jewelled Dragon Acrobats. Mexico-Mariachi Cobre. We missed seeing all but a small part of the Jewelled Dragon Acrobats.

Mom and I were the only ones that got to see the butterfly house, urban gardens. And only the ladies took the boat around the World Showcase Lake.

Besides the evening parade at Magic Kingdom, we also missed going on Tom Sawyer's Island and trying out a new attraction: A Pirate's Adventure-Treasures of the Seven Seas.

We never did see Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage at Hollywood Studios. Or the Exclusive Preview of Cinderella was at the ABC Sound Studio. Lights Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is rumoured to be closing soon. Would have been nice to take that show in.

At Universal it would have been nice to have been able to see: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students in the Triwizard Spirit Rally, the puppeteers performing The Tales of Beedle the Bard as well as Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees perform.

Next trip the plan is to have our relaxing days after we've seen the things we missed on this trip.