Category Archives: Vacation

Post-trip Sketching and Planning

There’s something about travel that changes your perspective so much. When you get back from a trip, you can see more clearly things you’ve done that are unproductive. You may have seen a new way to deal with a problem during your travels.

American Way mag
photo of a Karass advert page from the in-flight magazine on the airplane

Especially when it comes to every day surroundings and routines, you can see what doesn’t work and what didn’t have a desired outcome.  You can see why you need to get away and look at a problem with that fresh perspective.

A few cases in point:

When I go on a trip, I usually carry cosmetics and stuff in a blue plastic Caboodles box (it looks like a tackle box or a tool box). Finally, that thing split down the back and once it was clamped shut, it was so hard to un-shut that I ripped all the skin off a knuckle trying to pry it open. Now that I don’t have the plastic box, I came up with a couple of alternative carrying cases to take on trips, and realized what a clunky liability that plastic case had been.

We have more that just a washer and dryer in our laundry room, we also have a rug shampooer, a big bulky canister vacuum cleaner, several mops, brooms, etc., and a collection of seasonal wreaths to hang on the front door. This room is not big enough to hold all that stuff plus ourselves when we need to wash clothes.  Skip realized (while I was gone) that we have a hall closet near the front door that we never consider using, because it is so crammed full of – I don’t even know what’s in there. Possibly old camping equipment from the seventies, hats that no one wears, who knows?  If we get rid of that stuff we haven’t seen in a decade or more, we would have more room for the useful stuff!

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to do more sketching, and more art work in general. I want to get into Inkscape, a free vector drawing program, so we can use it to make projects in other media, like wood, plastic, laser engraving, and 3D printing. Does anyone have any experience in Inkscape,  who can offer some insight?

Meanwhile, I’m acclimating back to the local humidity and heat. Summertime all year round!

yoga sketching jennyskip
yoga sketching

 

Creative in Carolina!

After a fun visit to North Carolina, I’m convinced that it is the friendliest location of all, for artisans and makers of all creative crafts.

First off, I had to make a stop at the Cary Quilting Company.  The shop was busy with pending classes and folks stopping in to visit and talk with the proprietors. I didn’t do any prep work before I darkened their door, to look for particular fabrics or items, but just tried to find interesting things that mightn’t be found any where else. As so many little quilt and sewing shops seem to fall prey to underpatronage in favor of cheaper, more ubiquitous big box outlets, I want to do my part to keep them in business, if I can. Within reason, that is.

Cary quilting paraphernalia jennyskip
snagged some unique Cary Quilting paraphernalia
Clock wise from back left: a packet of patriotic Moda Red, White and Free cotton, the Big Book of Scrappy Quilts by Martingale, the Cary Quilting Company Block 3 fabric and pattern for the 2016  Quilt! Carolina Carousel Quilt, I Love North Carolina Pillow Pattern , the 2016 Row by Row Cary Quilting Company pattern and top fabric for “Home in the Oaks,” and a 2017 Plate: “Stitch Local.”

The pillow pattern is a pretty fun idea. I’ve never really seen anyone get excited about an odd-shaped pillow that represents one of the United States. I live in Florida, and I’ve never seen anyone in FL get excited about a state-shaped pillow. But in NORTH CAROLINA, the residents react with utter delight! “Oh, cool!” they say when they see it. Like they’ve always wanted a very odd-shaped, off-kilter, jaggedy, state-shaped pillow and they just now realize it! Or a North-Carolina-shaped mobile hanging from their ceilings, or Christmas ornament, or doorknob hanger! I mean, they get almost as excited about a North Carolina-shaped pillow as we do about a plushy Florida gator!

Meanwhile, we stayed in Carrboro, a creative little town that is an extension of Chapel Hill, the home of UNC. Carrboro is overflowing with charming little crafts stores and hippie hangouts. One shop, WomanCraft Gifts, had loads of handmade things from local artists, including jewelry, wooden pens that had been turned on a lathe, wood segmented bowls and boxes, paintings, ceramics, quilts, dolls, clothing, all sorts of things from the practical to the beautiful.

apron tea towel jennyskip
apron with attached tea towel
I found this apron with an attached tea towel sewn into the waistband, and I had to get it! Why? Because the tea towel reminded me of when my grandmother taught me how to do Swedish Weaving when I was little, on huck cloth like this aqua-colored piece here. This apron is of a very soft fabric. And what a great pattern.

Another creative item on sale in WomanCraft was the Chapel Hill Toffee, which is made by a local family business. Ah, yeah! It definitely tastes as good as it looks on the box top here:

Chapel Hill Toffee jennyskip
Chapel Hill Toffee
We took a stroll through the Historic Carr Mill Mall, which has several gift shops, a perfume shop, high-end clothing and shoes, and a savory fabric shop: Mulberry Silks.

Carr Mill Mall jennyskip
Carr Mill Mall
We picked up some sumptuous food items from the friendly market, which was having a couple of taster specials going on. Patrons who come into the store with their little kids in tow are encouraged to shop seriously:

fruit jennyskip
free healthy snacks for shoppers’ tag-alongs
We picked up some BBQ from the Cross Ties restaurant, which consisted of a bar straddling two train cars.

Cross ties jennyskip
Inside the Cross Ties waiting for our take-out order
Our order included “a plethora of sauces,” including the famous Carolina BBQ sauce that is vinegar with some hot pepper flakes. When I saw the vinegar and flakes in the little plastic cup, I thought, “What are we supposed to do with this?” but when applied to the smoked pulled pork, it tasted so right!

Creativity on Island Time

The Family Beach Weekend of 2016 has come and gone; the flurry of activity in planning, purchasing, and preparing has now evaporated into the vivid orange, pink and purple Gulf of Mexico sunsets…but we have great memories of our creative pursuits.

Photography: it’s not hard to get a beautiful shot in this place! Everything is incredibly photogenic.

Captiva sunset jennyskip.com
Captiva sunset

pool jennyskip
Creative posturing at the pool     (photo by Gabriel M)

hermit crab jennyskip.com
Tiny hermit crab
Sewing/quilting/knitting: We always try to scout out creative hubs when we travel around, and we happened upon a great little shop on Sanibel Island called Three Crafty Ladies. This unassuming little storefront opened into a treasure trove of art yarns (at very affordable prices!), a wide selection of fabric and notions, specialty patterns, artisan beads and jewelry-making supplies, paints, charcoal, pastels, brushes, lots of art supplies, shells, and all arranged in a very organized and gorgeous display. I picked some things for future projects.

Three Crafty Ladies fabric jennyskip.com
some fab fat quarters from Three Crafty Ladies

bag pattern jennyskip.com
San Clemente bag pattern designed by Stephanie Prescott of A Quilter’s Dream copyright 2008

Traffic Jam Jennyskip
“Late Night Traffic Jam” Row by Row Experience from Three Crafty Ladies
This little kit is a cute reminder of sea turtle nesting at the beaches this time of year.  A Row by Row Experience is something like a Shop Hop, where you can visit quilting shops in a circuit and get each shop’s kit, then assemble all of the kits into a quilt made up of each row. Or you can just make a wall hanging or table-top quilt from the single kit.

Three Crafty Ladies has many cute little designer kits, featuring beach and Florida wildlife motifs, all fabulous!

fabric plate jennyskip.com
signature fabric plate from Three Crafty Ladies
This little cotton sateen fabric plate, also from Row by Row Experience, can be incorporated into a quilting project or sewn onto the back of it.

Art: Creativity abounds in these beach towns (Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers). Everywhere we looked, we saw paintings, sculptures, all sorts of arts and crafts. The ceiling fan paddles were painted with tropical fish, and murals and wall art decorated the whole interior at Rosies’ Cafe. Every restroom had a whimsical seaside theme. Displays of shells and wildlife showed up in lobbies and hallways.

Blue Heaven jennyskip
painting of Blue Heaven in our hotel living room
Creative Cuisine: Even the humblest of eating places had great, creative food selections!

shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits from Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill at Captiva
We had our family dinner at the Doc Ford’s in Sanibel. Both had gourmet offerings, and the one at Captiva even had a book signing event going on, with the prolific author (and restaurant owner) who created the character Doc Ford, Randy Wayne White.

Improv: was a surprising highlight of the weekend — surprising because they pulled together a show on the last night without any planning prior to the trip! All the kids and grown-ups enjoyed this fun and hilarious stand-up show with plenty of audience input.

Improv Show jennyskip.com
Improv Show
Family members who came from far and wide have gone back to their homes.  Some are already starting the fall school semester or will start next week, while others have the whole month of August left of summer. We had a great, creative family beach weekend!

Super E-Z Family Beach Bags

by jenny

I like summer sewing projects to be quick, functional, colorful, and fun. These bags are for our family beach weekend this summer. For the past few years we’ve scheduled a beach (or, near-beach, or similar-to-a-beach) weekend for the kids and grandkids to all get together and have a party and relax before school starts up again.

We get motel rooms close to each other, so that the kids can go back and forth to be with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and us. We let them pick all their own activities except for one big family dinner during the weekend.

So far, it’s been fun and relaxing: no big expectations, they can go to nearby attractions if they want or just lounge, go from pool to beach and back, get grocery-store food and eat in their rooms or go to the restaurants they choose.

This year, we wanted to give them some little mementos and practical things for the stay, so we made up some simple beach bags for each child, couple, or family unit, so they can tote stuff around: pool toys, towels, wet bathing suits, groceries, or whatever.

beach bags jennyskip
beach bags

I used up lots of stray bottom-weight fabrics from my fabric stash, as well as some wet-resistant fabrics that I’d bought to make diaper covers for some of the little grandkids (too little too late though, I think they’re all potty-trained now).  Anyway, they are cute fabrics and came in handy for this project, to make lining for the bags. I was going to keep it simple and not line them, but I tried it on one and liked it a lot.

beach bags jenny skip
cutting liner to match fabric

 

I had lots of remnants that could be used for straps: I bought a big roll of red, white and blue flag-motif (it looks like elastic but is not as stretchy as real elastic) at a close-out sale for about a buck.  And got some other kinds, as each bag uses quite a length of strapping, like about 3 yards each.

beach bag strap
remnant strapping

They’re not the coolest but they are, at least, a functional souvenir of the 2016 family beach weekend.

Here’s how we made them: