Monday, September 21, 2009

In Search of the Venus Flytrap!

Well, Betsey and Sue left on Sunday and Mari and I decided it was time to visit Carolina Beach State Park. We are about five minutes away from this at our beach house. We were truly amazed by the size of the visitor center and the many paths throughout the park. We, however, were on a mission to find the Venus Flytrap.

What I hadn't known before this trip, was that the Venus Flytrap is only found within 75 miles of Wilmington NC. In fact, there are many carnivorous plants within this same geographical area! They like the very acid sandy soil. We were told the Venus Flytraps could be found growing in spagnum moss areas.

Well, we saw lots of mushrooms (which seemed really weird in a very sunny, sandy soil) and cactus but no Venus Flytraps. We even called back to the visitor center to make sure we were on the right path (the Venus Flytrap path) and they told us they were very had to spot as they are so small. We tried the path 2 1/2 times and then gave up! We did spot the yellow pitcher plant in the above photo which is also a carnivorous plant.
We will have to come back in the spring when the Venus Flytrap actually has a flower. I am going to try to coerce Lisa and Warren into walking one of the longer trails in the park also.

This I believe is Orange Milwort which I thought was very pretty. It was hiding behind the pitcher plant.
I don't know what this flower is but suspect from its shape that it is another carnivorous plant.

This I think is a Virginia Meadow Beauty.

One of the many pines in the park with the bright blue sky behind.

Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies!!

I believe this is a black swallowtail.

Wilmington should be renamed the butterfly capital of the south! Since coming down here, I have seen butterflies almost continuously but it took a visit to the Poplar Grove Plantation just north of Wilmington to finally get a chance to take some pictures! So I will take this opportunity to bore you with butterfly pictures (and some of the plantation as well). This peanut plantation was originally owned by the Foy family who owned this house and the two miles of land that stretched to the Sound. The breezes that were blowing on this warm sunny day were amazing. We had privilege of seeing an art show at the same time which was resident in one of the outbuildings.

I do believe this is a gecko -- he certainly looks like the spokesman for Geico.

This is probably some kind of locust (it was suggested that it was a desert locust but the coloring didn't look right -- however, supposedly they can change color). These were HUGE -- probably close to 4 or 5 inches long. There were many of these which obviously loved the Turks Cap plants which were growing by the Weaving building.

This yellow moth was also one of many I had seen but they seldom landed long enough to get their pictures taken! I think this is a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly (or moth?).

Another of the many species of butterfly! I believe this is called a Gulf Fritillary. There are some great sites for identifying both wildflowers and butterflies native to North Carolina!
I thought these were such unusual and beautiful lillies.

This was the kitchen in back of the main house on the plantation.

This is the orb weaver spider which is a very large spider with a beautiful very distinctive web. This one was probably an inch long.

Another view of what I believe is the swallowtail shown above although this might be a Spicebush Swallowtail. You can see the more distinctive markings here.

Charleston, Charleston......

This is Mari, Sue and Betsey in front of the Visitor's Center.

After a fun day of hanging out and catching up on life in general, we got up at 5:30 and headed for Charleston SC which entailed a 6:15 ferry ride and four hours of driving! Priscilla had left on Wednesday, we sewed on Thursday so Friday was chosen as the Charleston day. Sue, Betsey, Mari and I (as well as Barbara still in California because she is under the weather) have been internet pals for close to 15 years! We have gotten together in California and NY in the past (but only once had all five of us together).

We didn't have a lot of time to spend in Charleston so we decided that a bus tour would be the best way to see the most of the city in the shortest time so we signed up for the 2 hour bus tour and house tour. We then doubled back and walked through the market and then a very late lunch at a spot recommended by the tour guide (note: don't trust the tour guide for a recommendation!). Charleston is as beautiful as I remember. Mari managed to get a phone book and called a local quilt shop for directions. Then the search was on!! We only had twenty minutes before they closed!! Needless to say, it took getting lost and another phone call before we found the shop. They nicely stayed open for us and of course we just had to buy something! We were all pretty tired by then so headed on home which was longer than going as we both couldn't take the ferry as we were too late and the navigators fell down on the job (giggling I might add by this time).

This was inside the roof of a very old Unitarian Church in Charleston. Freedom of religion was rigorously enforced in early Charleston which prided itself on its tolerance.

This was an example of the fine ironwork throughout the city. The last time I was here was probably close to 20 years ago and there was still a lot of reconstruction going on. There is so much more that has been restored now -- really amazing considering the age of many of these homes.

My family has mocked me for years as the first time I was in Charleston I was totally fascinated with the earthquake bolts and would point them out on every building. Here is an example of one! These were used to shore up buildings damaged badly in a 7.0 earthquake in the late 1880's. They literally screwed them back together and held them in place with these bolts. Many times they were covered with something decorative and they are a clear indicator that a building is more than 100 years old.

Busy Beach Days!

This is Betsey and Mari who along with Priscilla and Sue turned my kitchen counter into our cutting and ironing area.
The first few days at the beach were filled with shopping! Priscilla and I methodically checked out every fabric shop listed in the Wilmington phone book. These included three shops that were primarily home decorating fabrics and two that were unabashedly quilt shops. The three home dec shops were:

Mill Outlet Village (really nice shop with rugs and some discounted fabrics as well as some quilt fabrics), Discount Fabrics (lots of phoney suede really cheap), Fabric Solutions which had even more of the phoney suede in awesome colors. We then hit Summer Breeze which was a very well stocked quilt shop that was also a Bernina dealership. We bought lots there. Then on to Fran's Sewing Circle which was a quilt shop but did contain other dress fabrics as well with some beautiful silks. It doubles as a Viking dealership. The Wilmington shops all got A ratings from us! When we ran out of shops in Wilmington, we went to Jacksonville (NC) and Charleston, SC!

This shot is of Betsey modelling her new purse that she made from fabric purchased at The Cotton Patch in Jacksonville, a shop that was recommended by two club members who had been there. They were right on! We all bought purse patterns there as well as fabric!

I had made up little purse kits before leaving home, mixing one marbled fabric with two matching hand dyed fabrics from my stash. We did a round robin so that everyone got five picks. We then proceeded to make purses from them. This is
Sue and Betsey from Albany along with yours truly!

These are the finished purses. Of course Betsey overachieved and made another from the scraps she had left over! She also made a wallet and you can see the other purse she is modelling.

This was Priscilla and I at a wonderful riverside restaurant in Wilmington -- Riverboat Landing. They have the best salad ever -- the Riverboat salad -- mixed greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, mandarin oranges and then this wonderful white balsamic vinegar dressing -- yum, yum.
Of course, Mari and I had to make sure that Sue and Betsey experienced the same food so we were back two days later for lunch. This time we sat on the balconies overlooking the river -- very cool.

Mari initiated us to the joys of Costco where she has a membership. This was the HUGE key lime pie we purchased which four women can finish off in record time! Too bad you left too soon Priscilla!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Binghamton Quilt Shows

On the way down to North Carolina, Priscilla and I made a short detour to Binghamton NY to see a quilt show that looked interesting at SUNY Binghamton as mentioned in the last post (there is a link there as well to the show). It was a fantastic show that really contained two shows in one.

There was a gallery filled with Amish and Mennonite quilts curated by Gerald Roy downstairs in the Fine Arts Bldg and a contemporary show upstairs. We just so happened to be there for the Opening Reception! Jack Braunstein was the curator of this exhibit and gave a brief introduction.

Priscilla and I would highly recommend this show to anyone interested in either genre! They are both very different but very graphic and wonderful!

This was the view down to the gallery from the second floor. You will see many familiar quilts.

This is one of Karen Stone's quilts. She has a wonderful sense of color and design.

This quilt was done by Margaret Miller.

Although I was not familiar with this woman's work, Marilyn Henrion had a couple of stunning pieces in this show which was focused on contemporary quilt artists.

A lovely evening with Priscilla's daughter and dinner out capped the evening and prepared us mentally for heading south the next day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GVQC -The Journey Begins!

What a busy day!! It was the first meeting of our quilt club for the new year and I had the car filled from top to bottom with stuff to take to North Carolina. Our speaker for September was Paula Nadelstern so I decided I would have to take my PN inspired Snowflake Quilt for Show and Tell, even though it had been in a quilt show 5 years earlier (no one remembered it anyway!). To assuage my conscience about showing a quilt a second time, I decided that I would need to machine quilt it more densely than I had so....the day before leaving for NC, I machine quilt away! Of course I discovered that it probably not a good idea to quilt with a 12 pound cat sitting on the quilt. I finally had to throw him out when he decided he needed to play since just riding on the quilt was just boring. He got locked out just a few minutes later!

The meeting was filled to the brim but there were only a few quilts for show and tell which was fine.

This is another magnificent piece by Marcia Eygabroat ( ) of her parents. Her mother, Sally Hershberg is a longtime GVQC member. We are so lucky to have Marcia in our club as well as RAFA. She moved up north from down here in Wilmington NC (and actually used to live on the same street I currently have the beach house!) Small world.

This is a very poor picture of Paula Nadelstern's snowflake quilt but it gives you the idea.

Here is my version which was all original snowflake designs (the bigger flakes). The smaller and medium sized white flakes were all silk screened on with white paint after the quilt was completed (and trust me, that took guts and lots of practice on scraps). I also free hand machine embroidered small silver snowflakes all over the background. I added the all over quilting the day before the meeting. If you double click you can see more detail!

After the meeting, Priscilla and I headed quickly out to the car and started on our North Carolina trek. First stop was Binghamton New York which was a little out of the way. There had been a notice of a quilt show which would have its Opening Reception that afternoon at SUNY Binghamton( Priscilla had contacted her daughter the day before and asked if she minded if we crashed there for the night!

The quilt show was well worth the extra hour of time we used heading south!!! It was two quilt shows in one which was an extra treat. More coming -- keep watching the blog!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Down to the Wire with Packing!

Just thought I would share a couple of images of goodies of purchased from Priscilla on Monday!

I bought these hand carved buttons made out of yak bone. There are six of each one. They will make great embellishments on garments. These are from Nepal.

I just couldn't leave without this piece! It is 36 inches wide by about 90 inches long and is completely hand embroidered on silk with stitching (mimicking quilting) between the animals. You really need to double click on this one. Just loved the animals. This will probably find its way to Lisa's house at some point! Of course that is Cheney checking it out down in the corner. This is from India and Priscilla still has a bird one and two fish ones that are also awesome.

The car is getting packed to the very top. We will be heading to NC on Thursday with a stop at the Binghamton University Art Museum for a quick visit to their quilt exhibit -- it just happened that their Opening Reception was the same time we could pass through the area (going a little out of our way!).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Creating - Yes, Blogging - No

No pictures today as I can't take a picture of my challenge piece until the challenge! Have been working diligently on it and the top is finally completed and it measures about 45 x 56 finally.

The challenge was to create a quilt that was inspired by one of the molas that we have purchased from Priscilla. As I have purchased A LOT of molas (and she has more to sell on her blog I might note), the first decision was hard but I finally chose one that has exquisite workmanship and is one of my very favorites. It will make its way into a jacket after the challenge!

Besides getting the top done, I have been getting ready for a trip down to the beach house in Kure. The same Priscilla from above will be driving down with me and once there we will greet friends coming from California and Albany NY as well! The tropical storms seem to have held off so I am anticipating a wonderful time!! One of my high school friends (who lives close by at the beach) told me not to forget my bikini which got my laugh for the day but he did say the water temps were in the 80s!! Doesn't sound like much sewing will happen but you never know. I am taking down supplies for sewing though as well as at least one additional sewing machine and table! I am looking forward to an adventure!! I am flying dear husband down for a few days at the end of the visit!

Well, off tomorrow to see Priscilla and the goodies she has brought back from Nepal and India -- the woman is AMAZING and you really should read her blog!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

George and the Sewing Machine!

Well, finally remembered to take my camera upstairs so that I could re-introduce the sewing cat to everyone. It is almost impossible to get anything done as one or the other (or both) of my two kitties is helping me! I always forget my camera but had it the other night when I was trying to work on my challenge piece. George now spends some time winding his way around my sewing machine and then finally sleeps away from the needle and rotary cutter -- I have a terrible fear of sewing his tail down or cutting his toes with the rotary cutter!

Before I took this picture, he had meandered up to the top of the table so I could sew a bit. If I stop the machine for even a minute, he is back, up close and personal!! He is sooo soft though and purrs loudly so it is hard to throw him out of the room. If I pet him enough, he will wander back out of my reach! I did manage to get some more done and may actually have it done in time!

How Now Brown Cow -- A Day at the NY State Fair

The day was perfect for going to the Fair! Our first visit was to the Dairy Animal building which was populated mostly with the Holsteins that you see in the background of this shot. They are the big black and white cows you see everywhere here in NY State. Dairy farming is the biggest agricultural activity here in NY. This, however, is a Jersey cow. My good friend Jane came from a dairy farm near Oneonta and her parents raised Jerseys. Jerseys have very high fat content milk while Holsteins produce lots of milk. Here in NY, farmers are paid for volume not fat content. Her brother finally threw in the towel and gave up raising the dairy cows and got a job in a nearby town. I only saw this one Jersey in the show!

This was in the meat animal building and these two are Highland steers which were really quite beautiful. They had plaid banners over them so you can guess their origin! Evidently they are very good breeders and are pretty to look at as well. All the animals are soooooo clean and well groomed in these animal buildings.

This was Warren making friends with one of the lovely fuzzy bunnies that were displayed!

This was in the dairy products building. This lady does cheese sculpture all over the country and of course used NY cheddar. She passed out the cut off pieces and it was delicious!!

A real high point of the day was the building that housed the poultry!! So many beautiful roosters and some were just huge! They were mini-artworks in themselves.

This was the view looking down the main promenade. I have literally never seen so many vendors with different products. Inside the buildings there was every pitchman you have ever seen selling everything from $5000 sets of pans to the imitation chamois that you see advertised on tv (okay, I did succomb to that one). It was kind of fun. We can honestly say that we didn't eat one healthy thing all day!! I probably came closest having my very favorite soft serve ice cream (NOT frozen custard). Ummmmmmm good!

The Horticulture building housed mostly vendors (as did most of the non-animal buildings). There was a small dahlia and hosta competition as well as a flower arranging challenge. The dahlias were gorgeous and HUGE -- bigger than my hand.

These were more of the beautiful dahlias -- I do love dahlias!

This is the Horticulture Bldg. entrance. It was built in 1937 and was one of several buildings with interesting architecture and artistic features. I was surprised to find these older permanent fixtures at the fair. It had the feel of an old World's Fair site.

This is a closeup of the building in the previous picture. You can double click to see the detail. It isn't mosaic but is painted and raised work.

I had to take a photo of this ad for the healthy food available!

I truly wish I could have gotten closer to this show which was a Raptors show. This was a Marsh Hawk that was patiently sitting for his turn in the limelight.

These were the two barn owls. I wish I had seen one of these in the "wild". Beautiful creatures!! He also had a couple of Tiger Owls which looked like Horned Owls to me. They were just huge animals with a five foot wing span. The young female was much larger than the male. This was a fascinating show but I couldn't get in very close. It was almost worth going back for!! The narrator has made appearances on a lot of the late night talk shows and he was charming as well as very knowledgeable about these beautiful birds!!

I of course had to take a picture of one of the many quilts on display in the crafts area. This was a particularly nice wool quilt that greeted you as you entered!

After five hours of walking around the whole show, we headed home and a dinner of barbeque along the way. We slept well last night!