Friday, January 24, 2020

20 in 20: The Plan

So I recently saw a news story about how making art is good for your health! One thing that really bummed me out last year, was having a sewing room but not having the time to get in there and use it. So I am making myself a goal to get 20 sewing projects finished up in the year 2020....I think it's totally doable! I've already started to make a dent in my goal!

Last year, I saw this blog post on making a rainbow flag bunting. We have a cut through between the kitchen and dining room. It's the perfect place to hang a bunting. So last year, I had the idea it would be fun to make holiday buntings to decorate that opening for the different holidays. On R&R last summer, Clarissa and I had a lot of fun going to fabric stores in South Carolina, Missouri, even stopping at a huge fabric outlet in Amish county of Ohio on our road trip, and in Maryland. At these stores, we had a checklist of our holidays and how many patterns we were still looking for. We didn't need much of each pattern (only a 1/4 yard/fat quarter or two of each) and you can't order amounts that small online. Also, primarily US celebrated holidays (ie St. Patrick's Day/4th of July I'm looking at you) would be really hard to find fabrics overseas. So our mission was totally necessary!

Last year, I was able to get the Halloween bunting made (both kids even helped out and it was fun)! Then we hit the birthday blast and I did not get that one made. Thanksgiving came and went and I failed again. I did manage to get our Christmas bunting made!! Woohoo! So depending on how I do on other projects...buntings may count as one project or multiple

So I have my first project of 2020 done! A winter bunting to brightening up the house after the holidays. The house always look so empty after de-Christmas-fying the house. So it adds a bit more color.

A close-up of the patterns - snow flakes, blue flurries (it has glitter), and then a mix of snow flakes, shells and sea stars!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Summer Adventures 2019 Part 6 - Maryland

I have finally made it to the sixth and final installment of our summer adventures! In Maryland, Clarissa had a chance to catch up with her younger cousins, aunt, uncle, and my parents. We had a couple weeks of cousin fun. In SC, Clarissa's cousins are Mason's age - so she's trying to keep up; in MO, Clarissa's cousin graduated a few year back and is grown; in MD having cousins that are a couple years younger....definitely the most fun!

One day we went out to Historic St. Mary's - Maryland's first capital. There has been a lot of archaeological research done to reconstruct buildings with historic accuracy. One building we went into was the Print House - original owned by William Nuthead, Maryland's first printer.

This is obviously a reenactor (and not the real Mr. Nuthead) but he showed us how the real press worked and let the kids use it to make a contract!

It was hard work pressing it down hard enough!

But when down, there was two copies of the contract printed, one for each person signing it to get and keep! Which was cut and both of the 'cousin printers' got a copy!

We played some old time games (like through the corn cob through the grapevine hoop).

We checked out some more old buildings as well as a refurbished ship that was docked. Some camps/groups get to take trips on the ship apparently.

Cousins in a tree!

There was a good bit of walking but all the cousins did good.

When we had been in St. Louis and had gone to the trampoline park Clarissa ended up bruising a foot bone! At the time we didn't know that (we'd already gone to a doc-in-box and ruled out a break), so after our day of walking it was really hurting. So the next day, we went for an x-ray to rule out a fracture (and found out about the above bruising). We then went bulk shopping for someone's birthday party!

There was a photo booth at the birthday party...I see an uneven distribution of photo booth props on the cousins!! The much anticipated cake time (we had gotten the cake the day before and asked/sweet talked the woman at Costco to ice a birthday message on top. It's a little disconcerting when you see the face of the knife holder ready to cut the cake! It has provide many a laugh!!

The next day, Clarissa got to ride in a Cessna plane!! She was the co-pilot!


Getting clearance for their flight from air traffic control.

If something less than favorable would have happened, this photo would have haunted me forever!

Plane starting to taxi.

Lift off!

Super high in the high sky. I may or may not got in a debate with my nephew as to how high they were in the sky (I said no, they were not 30,000 feet like big jets....).

We celebrated the successful flight and landing with some lunch, a trip to target, and then some Sweet Frog!!

We also had a couple fun days! We went to a water park one day and then we went to the local beach. I had found some info about it and the cousins had already been once....we went to Brownie's beach and since Clarissa is a Girl Scout brownie...naturally we had to go....and we could find shark's teeth!! Which we did (and a few pieces of sea glass)!

One day, we drove to Virginia and met one of Clarissa's friends from Fiji!! Her friend was stateside from Madagascar for a bit!! 

The girls had a blast at Chuck'E'Cheese while the moms caught up. Then we continued the fun with some more frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog again (Clarissa had 4 coupons and was determined to use all 4!).

Mason flew back in from Texas. I somehow had a funny filter on at the airport (drawback of letting little people use your phone - btw Grandpa's make great subjects for fun filters).

Mason had a day in Maryland and fit in some cousin and grandparent time.

We squeezed in for a selfie! Lol. There were lots of giggly fails.....

Then the kids and I headed back to South Carolina. It rained a good portion of the drive back. Apparently, the weather gods felt that living in the desert deemed it necessary to pour rain on me every time I drove in the It was a pretty bad bad that it knocked a pine tree down into the road and was blocking traffic. Have no fear....being in the south - there were some good ole boys with their pickup truck who were able to pull the tree out the way.

Note we aren't that far back! Either a lot of people turned around or that tree had fallen just a few minutes before!! Eek!

We had a couple days in South Carolina. I got all the suitcases all packed up, saw a couple more friends, and we headed back on the Charleston - London - Doha routing. The flights were full. Since a lot of Europe holidays in August that wasn't a complete surprise. When looking around at the gate, most of the people on our flight were UK citizens, not a lot of blue passport holders. Once back in Doha, we had about two weeks to get over jet lag before school started (though my job had started so I immediately dove into catching up/climbing up the learning curve).

Someone was too busy to stop for a photo on the first day, but she did pose for retake in that was our R&R for 2019....only six blog posts six months We're now starting to plan 2020's R&R....but who's really counting....I'll try and be better this promises.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Summer Adventures 2019 Part 5 - Road Trip

After camp, we did laundry.....then Clarissa and I headed off on a road trip! First stop was Clarissa's belated birthday present....she's hit that age where she doesn't play much with dolls/Barbies anymore, we have a ton of Lego's, and is super picky with books (and we move so much and don't need more stuff to purge) so we opted for an experience as her gift.

Yes! We were spending the night in a real castle! The Kentucky Castle in Versailles surrounded by horse farms!

So we received a real key on a fancy keychain and unloaded the car. Then we looked at the on-site restaurant menus....and we opted to do a run to Sonic for dinner (it was her birthday celebration after all). 

When we got back from dinner, we walked around the property exploring while enjoying our drinks.


What is Clarissa looking at? She's checking out the grand entrance!

The top floor has a dance floor and apparently the Kentucky Castle is quite the popular wedding venue. The night we stayed, there were no events!

 We saw some guard birds....

They had flower beds and a green house.

Someone channeled their inner princess with this grandiose staircase!

After our exploring, we put on our swimsuits and walked down to the pool. Given there were non-guests in the restaurant and we didn't have our cover-ups easily accessible (buried somewhere in a suitcase). We used the hotel spa robes to head down to the pool. Someone loved it (it was a bit large)!

We had the pool to ourselves for a bit and then a couple other families came out and swam as well (saved mom from the freezing cold water). We were not in one, but you can actually stay in a suite that is located in one of the castle turrets.

After swimming, Clarissa took a nice hot spa bath in the the tub in our room that had the bath jets. She throughly enjoyed all the whistles and bells that were in the castle!

We saw the sunset and the moonrise.

The next morning, we got up a bit earlier than we had initially planned to - what had been Hurricane Barry was racing us with 3-5" of rain and gusty winds. Not fun stuff to drive in, so the quicker we could get to our next destination the better. Siri helped me text my bestie and keep her updated (I also shared my location with her to allow her to stalk me en route). We had about a five hour drive and the first half was just overcast then it gradually started raining a little heavier and heavier. We ended up stopping for lunch about an hour away during a lovely downpour band of rain. The rain slowed us down a bit but we made it in pretty good time. We stayed with my bestie for a week....and of course we didn't take any photos together....(yeah I don't know how I failed on that one).

My bestie had to work a few of the days we were there. So Clarissa and I find ways to entertain ourselves. We visited with my cousins. We let the kids jump at at one of the indoor trampoline parks and then went out for lunch. Another day, Clarissa and I went to a Chocolate Factory!! Uh, how did I never know this existed?!?!?! We went to Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, which has been around since 1981 ( was a young company when I left for college).

They offered factory tours with samples at the end....uh...yes please!! I set up reservations for Clarissa and I once I knew our summer plans and we had one other family with us on our tour (we also had the first tour of the morning on a rainy day).

They specialize in handcrafting small batches of fresh chocolates. Literally hand crafting, we watched as this group hand dipped fresh raspberries and then sent then down to the chocolate water fall.

At the chocolate waterfall, there is someone watching to make sure there is complete and total chocolate coverage. If a spot is missing, another trip through the waterfall is in order (feels like a stop on Candyland!).

They also have a chocolate molds: letters, numbers, St. Louis Arches, and you can order something custom - if you wanted. We bought some chocolates to take home. Someone may have eaten her chocolates nearly immediately (I think was able to hold her off until lunch time).

We visited my brother and his family. They have a farm and take in stray cats and are able to spay/neuter them for free. Though sometimes they end up with strays dropped off already pregnant. Clarissa was in kitten heaven!

FOUR KITTENS and an Uncle!! So much fun! A little tough to wrangle. She would try to get all four to stay in the same was a lot of work! We also gave the outside adults a little attention.

We also visited with my cousins/family on the other side of the family. I picked Busia's brain to update information on my ancestry family tree. Clarissa was happy to see her great grandmother. We also met Baby Bunny (Honey Bunny's baby!)

I did sneak this photo of my bestie. We were celebrating a whole lot of birthdays here! Busia's 101st bday, cousin's bday, Uncle's B-day and the Bestie's B-day (and it was actually on her B-day!).

After our quick week in St. Louis, Clarissa and I continued on our road trip. We headed to Amish country - Millersburg, Ohio. On our way, we stopped to drop Clarissa's American Girl off to head to the American Girl Hospital. We figured MaryAnn would beat us back to Doha, but she ended up getting misrouted and got more passport stamps than we did. We also checked out a Lego store with a huge Lego cat!!

We stayed the night in Millersburg in a Holiday Inn Express (and Clarissa enjoyed the pool that night). The next morning, we headed to Zinck's Fabric Outlet. We were on the hunt for some holiday fabric for Christmas PJs, some other items we had on our list, and just something fun to break up the long 13.5 hour drive. Clarissa found the last piece of a cute cat pattern fabric and we used it to make a reading pillow for her to take to school. Sadly, I was driving and unable to get any photos of the Amish driving down the road in their buggies, but I did end up having to google a lot of answers to questions Clarissa had about the Amish in America.....we both learned a lot! After our shopping spree, we headed on to Maryland....the last part of of summer adventures!