Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mini Vacation

At the beginning of summer I asked the kids what were the must dos this summer break and one of the things high on the list was camping.  So last weekend we went camping in the Dubuque Iowa/Galena Illinois area.  We stayed at a decent campground, but unfortunately we picked a tent site that was to be in the middle of a large family reunion later that weekend.  It was really loud and crowded.  That was about the only negative on the trip. We left on Wednesday after Nathan got off work.  The air conditioner was out on the expedition, so it was a hot trip.  We got to the campground at night and set up camp.  On Thursday we went to Maquoketa Caves State Park.  The kids and Nathan believe that this was the highlight of the trip.

There were big caves...
There were small caves...
 Can you spot the Iris?
 On Friday we went and explored Dubuque.  We rode the Fenelon Place Elevator.
 Zadok was worried that we would fall out.
  We had lunch at a Hibachi grill and the chef was entertaining.  After lunch we went to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.  It was good museum and I recommend it,  There is a lot there.  Zadok tried his hand at boat making.
 There was also a large dredging steamboat that was out of service that you could explore.  It was hard for Zadok not to push all the buttons or pull all the levers.
They had several interactive exhibits.
 They has a couple of aquarium tanks, but the focus of the museum was more of river transportation history.
On Saturday we explored Galena Illinois.  It reminded me a lot of Eureka Springs Arkansas.  It was a small town with a lot of Victorian architecture.  We had lunch at a burger place called Durty Gurts.  I believe that it was featured on Diners Drive Thrus and Dives on the Food Network once.  It was good.  After lunch we had a Mississippi river cruise booked.  To get to the boat a person has to ride the alpine slide down the ski slope.  The kids really enjoyed that.  The stretch of river that we were on was a wildlife refuge and there was not much development.  This picture shows our only minor mishap on the trip.  Nathan was practicing diving in the pool at the campground Saturday morning and got acquainted with the bottom of the pool.  Considering other vacations, this was extremely minor!
 Here is Iris enjoying the breeze off of the river.
 Here is Zadok being depressed because he couldn't ride the alpine slide all day.
 After the river cruise was over we had to ride the chairlift back up to the parking lot.  While riding the chairlift it started to rain.  Not much you can do about getting under shelter then. 
 The rest of the evening was spent exploring Galena.  I thought that this was a cute sign on one of the shops.
We took a trolley tour of haunted Galena that night.  Zadok is practicing punching any ghosts we might encounter!
  After the tour we explored Galena at night.  There were a set of steps that ran perpendicular to the main streets in town and was very high.  Of course we had to climb them to see what was at the top.  It was another street.  Not very exciting, but good exercise!
On Sunday we went to the swimming pool and worked our way home.  Overall we had a good time!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Garden: Then and Now

What a difference a month and a half makes in a garden.  We had a late spring this year and many things did not get in the ground till mid -May to early June.  It will be July 4th tomorrow and there is not even sweet corn yet!  I took pictures in mid May and went out and took some pictures today.  It is amazing how fast things change.
Then: The first two pictures are the front of the house.  I do not like the bushes in front of the house most of the year, but they are pretty in the spring.  The flowers in the pots are loving the weather that we have been having.
 Now: The bushes are out of control!  Trimming is on the agenda for next week.  I love the color that I painted the wicker.  It gives a nice pop of color to the front of the house.  The flowers in the pots have gone nuts!
 Then:  The peony was the prettiest it has ever been this year.  The Irises are doing well also.  The side garden after planing a few annuals among the perennials.  I am trying dahlias this year.
 Now: The side garden.

 Then: The veggie garden right after planting.
 Now:  Everything is doing okay.  It seems like the tomatoes are just hanging out and are a bit small.  I tried broccoli this year, but it did not do anything except get big and then flower. 
 We should have tomatoes soon.
We have picked lettuce, peas, and peppers so far.
I have put two new flower beds in the yard this year.  I hope to dig at least one more plot this fall.  The first one was where we put the tulips by the street.  I put some blue salvia, zinnias, and marigolds in this bed. 

I put a new perennial and rose bed on the east side of the garage.  Perennials look so sad the first year they are planted if you leave the space recommended between them. I filled in the spaces with annuals.  I just finished this bed last week.
I am excited to see what the garden looks like in another month!  On another note, today is a special day!  We have a 15 year old girl in the house today.  I made a giant chocolate trifle and we are having steaks for dinner.  Her choice!  I love this wrapping paper!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring Activities

A lot has happened since I last wrote anything.  I actually graduated!!!  I had an irrational fear that it was not actually true and that I was not really done.  But I have my piece of paper that says I have a PhD, but I cannot convince my family to call me Dr. Mom.  Oh well.  I have not been able to find a job in academia yet, but I plan on trying for a couple of more years before moving on to a different career path. 
This spring has been busy.  It seems that when children get older, a parent gets busier.
Tulip time was different this year.  I did not have to chair the quilt show and that lifted many of my responsibilities this spring.  I did have four quilts in the show.  That was all that I finished this year.  I plan on making finishing my WIPS a priority this year. The biggest quilt I finished I call Purple Peacock tails.  I really like the way this one turned out.  I came up with the color scheme before I came up with the pattern.  I quilted it on my home machine with my walking foot.

 This one is "Floral Libraries".  It was a kit that I bought at the 2012 AQS show in Des Moines.  It is okay, but not my favorite thing I have made and I did not like the way the pattern was written.  I also quilted it using my machine and walking foot.  I used an elongated zig-zag stitch and I like the way it gave the quilt some texture.

 This is a smaller quilt that I made at a quilt guild retreat.  I like the pink and brown together.

 This is a mini that I made to try several new things.  I created my own pattern in photo shop and used a product called Ricky Tims' Stiff Stuff for the foundation.  I liked the way I could run it through my printer and I did not have to rip it out when I was finished.  I also used decorative stitches as my quilting and put in prairie points.

 I also pieced the guild's raffle quilt this year.  I think we did well in ticket sales.  Linda Schminke did the quilting.  It is a pattern called "Winner's Circle" by Glad Creations.

The quilt show had a higher attendance than last year, partly because of the weather.  It was yucky outside and it drove people inside.  There was actually snow!  The parades on Thursday were canceled.  There were tears at our house because Zadok was supposed to ride on a float that night, and he was greatly disappointed when the parade was called off.  It started snowing on Thursday and we thought it would be done by that night. The kids made a Dutch snowman to keep the tulips company. 

We were surprised then on Friday morning when we woke up to this:

 The poor snowman was buried!!!  Both parades on Friday were canceled.  The weather cleared enough that there were parades on Saturday.  This is a good picture of Zadok and his teacher.

 Iris got to watch the afternoon parade from the comfort of a window!  She participated in a living window to help raise money for her trip with show choir next spring break. 

This year we had tulips, but they were not at their peak till a week after Tulip Time.  Sometimes in the middle of January, I wonder why we live here, but then spring comes and I think we live in one of the most beautiful spots there are.  I spent an afternoon just wandering around downtown taking pictures of the flowers and some of the buildings.  This is Pella's central park. 

 This is the Vermeer windmill, currently the tallest in the United States.

 This is Sunken Gardens Park and it is across from Zadok's school.  We often have to check the wooden shoe shaped pond for fish and other critters when walking home from school.

Now that winter is finally over, it is pleasant to live in Iowa again!