Category Archives: Vacations

Stitching retreat…

…is one of the great joys of my life.

Every year at the beginning of August the Needlework Guild of Minnesota hosts a teaching retreat for needlework in Buffalo, MN.  The venue is the lovely Christ the King Retreat Center, a place where many of the sleeping and teaching rooms, as well as the dining room overlook the lake and offer the chance to see amazing sunsets over the water.

The retreat is well priced and full every year–generally without even having to open it to non-guild members. This says a lot about the enthusiasm of the needleworkers who make up the membership. It also says a lot about the careful planning that goes into making every year a success.  I want to add my resounding ‘thank you’ to those involved in this year’s effort because it was fabulous.

I had the joy of going to Retreat this year with a group of friends I have fondly referred to on this blog as the ‘stitching sisters’.  They include a sister from North Dakota, a sister by marriage and several local sisters, all of whom are wonderful friends.  This talented group (both within the world of needlework and without) made this year the  best ever for me. To each one of them…dear sisters of my heart…thank you.

The Retreat is also amazing because of the instruction available to all attendees.  Each year top notch national and international teachers come for 4-6 days to share their talents, new ideas and teaching projects.  In the past we’ve had the likes of Janice Love, Tanya Berlin, Kay Stanis, Barbara Mayo-Grass, Jane Nicholas, Cayla Conn Tyler, Diane Fitzgerald and Shay Pendray (this is by no means an exhaustive list).  This year was no different.  Robin Laukhuf of Olde Willow Threads, Leslie Granbeck (teacher of all things felted) and Carole Lake were our teachers.  All and I do mean ALL the projects were fabulous.  My choice was to stitch in Carole’s class–the fabulous St. Basil’s Cathedral (needlepoint). I was joined by three of the sisters and we had a great time.  Carole is an exceptional teacher and we went home with a fair amount of canvas covered. (I will edit this to share a photo of my work in progress later.)

St. Basil's in progress 1

The pace was just right and four days flew by in a flash.

So, Retreat may be over for another year, but I have my memories, echos of shared laughter and a beautiful project.  I am…grateful.

Blessings,

Julie

PS: To Mom…yes, I am knitting. 🙂

Hello from…

…beautiful Thunder Bay, ONT, Canada.  We spent our day touristing around this lovely city.  The morning started with breakfast in our  hotel room.  I will spare you photos of me in the morning chowing on a doughnut followed by a healthy high fiber bar. 🙂  Then we all headed for Kekabeka Provincial Park -famous primarily for it’s beautiful falls.  Feast your eyes:

Falls from visitor's center overlook

Falls from visitor's center overlook

Another shot of the falls, this time of a very cool stairstep formation between the two drops.

Kekabeka Falls-stairs

Kekabeka Falls-stairs

Next up is a group photo of all seven of us at the falls:

Family shot at the falls

Family shot at the falls

After the falls we went to a very popular…and apparently somewhat famous…Finnish restaurant in the city call Hoitos.  We feasted on such specialties as Finnish pancakes…light, thin, big and totally yummy, a flat rye bread with rice baked into the center whose name escapes me right now, but it was served with egg salad, tomatoes and pickles and was delicious, perogi served with fried onions and sour cream, homemade lentil soup and also some kind of Finnish beef stew.  The meal was fabulous, so if you’re ever in the neighborhood…Run, don’t walk to Hoitos.

The afternoon found us at Hillcrest Gardens. The views….and the flowers were absolutely spectacular.  The first photo I will share is my niece who very kindly submitted to about 5400 photo ops today :-), then the rest are flowers and I will end today’s photos with a tribute to the nation we are visiting.  We thank them for their beautiful homeland and kind hospitality.

Our dear niece presiding over a magnificent view

Our dear niece presiding over a magnificent view

I don't know what these are but I love them!

I don't know what these are but I love them!

Aren't the yellows glorious?

Aren't the yellows glorious?

I love all the different colors!

I love all the different colors!

In a shady spot...

In a shady spot...

Thank you for a beautiful day, Canada! You are the best of neighbors!

Thank you for a beautiful day, Canada! You are the best of neighbors!

It was indeed a very full and very fun day. Now I am off to bed and tomorrow we are off for Wawa, Ont, Canada. Between here and there we will be covering 240 miles of forest, rock and shoreline.  Looking forward…

Blessings,

Julie

Vacation…

…north-style, day one.  We have started on this year’s great adventure…a motor trip around Lake Superior.  We began this morning from our home in the southern part of Minnesota accompanied by two of DH’s sisters and our niece.  We drove north to Duluth and picked up dad and mom C.  Well, actually, we didn’t pick them up, they are driving one of the cars, we are driving the other.

From Duluth we headed up the North Shore of Lake Superior…an absolutely glorious drive on an absolutely glorious day!  We saw Split Rock Lighthouse:

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

We had lunch at the best pizza place around:  Sven and Ole’s in Grand Marias, MN.  This is a fine establishment known for pizzas made from unusual ingredients such as Lutefisk (kid you not) and wild rice.  We enjoyed a chicken and sausage, thin crust pizza and a little more unusual variety with wild rice, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, green pepper and onion.  They were both fabulous.

From there it was off to Canada.  After clearing customs we came to rest at our first destination:  Thunderbay, ONT.  We are staying at a lovely hotel with this kind of backyard:

Thunder Bay landscape

Thunder Bay landscape

and…

Wild Flowers galore

Wild Flowers galore

and…

Gorgeous flowers

Gorgeous flowers

and finally…DH and I…

On the banks of the backyard pond

On the banks of the backyard pond

Stay turned for more as we explore beautiful Thunder Bay tomorrow.

Blessings,

Julie

A quick…

…update. Vacation was wonderful. Pictures are forthcoming. My birthday…well, was my birthday. I was still doing laundry from aforementioned vacation. But then the dratted chest pain started up again in earnest. (Poor Earnest…why do we pick on him?)

So…the long and short of it is…I had another visit to the North Memorial Cardiac spa. So to those of you who have asked me about stash for sale…please be patient with me for another week or so and I promise I will have emails out. To those of you who are wondering if I still stitch…well, I plan to, how’s that? This weekend. 🙂
So…see you all next week when I shall endeavor to make up for lost time.

Blessings,
Julie

I am back from…

…the wild and wooley east coast.  While we had a wonderful visit with family at my brother’s home in Washington, DC, I am glad to be home.  We had good weather, something for which I am thankful, since Thanksgiving week can be problematic.  But apart from traffic and some snow in the mountains, the drive wasn’t bad, even towing a trailer behind my Taurus (a small six cylinder engine).  I am doubly grateful the weather held through our time there, because DH drove back to Minnesota by himself while I visited friends up near Philadelphia.  (At his suggestion!)  But we are both home safely…with just a few weeks before Christmas. We are busy, well and looking forward to another time with family.

I didn’t stitch or knit much while on vacation, but I do have a finish to report. I completed the ‘Edgar’ scarf…knitted with Noro Silk Garden yarn.  I will post a photo soon, I promise. I am just too tired tonight. I have started a second one with another Noro yarn…and…you guessed it, these are both gifts. 🙂

I also want to include a little bit of ‘recommended reading’.  Monica Ferris’ newest book, Thai Die, is out. I’ve already read it twice.  This is, I believe the 12th installment of the Betsy Devonshire needlework series. It’s fun and very quick to read. Enjoy!

Well, I am off to bed right now. I hope this finds each of you well, happy and at peace.

Blessings,

Julie

Well one goal met is better…

…than none, right?

Dan and I have returned home from our midwinter long weekend away. On Friday when we left it was about six below and we were heading about 200 miles north. Crazy? Not really. February on the north shore of Lake Superior is beautiful, especially on a cold, sunny day. The lake is open and is the deepest sapphire blue you can imagine. The ice that rims it and occasionally float in floes is pristine white and sparkles like it was made of a thousand diamonds. The water is warmer than the air so oftentimes steams rises from the surface…like the whole lake is coming to a boil.

The roads were clear and dry, the Naniboujou lodge was warm and welcoming, the food wonderful and the quiet and peace refreshing in the extreme. There are no telephones (save one pay phone in the lobby), no TV, cell service is sporadic at best…it’s almost like stepping back 50 years. There’s a beautiful sun room filled with comfy chairs and sofas that overlooks the lake. We spent a lot of our time curled up on the soft cushions just reading, stitching and enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

I think I’m a bit behind on what I’d hoped to accomplish this month, but as the title of this post suggests, I did complete one goal over the weekend. I finished knitting the third ball of yarn into my scarf…so it is on to the fourth and last ball, then I can say finis. Yeah! I also worked on Color Cubes a bit, too.

I am going to close for now, because I have guests arriving shortly. But I will post photos later and share some more about the weekend.

I hope this finds everyone well, warm and happy!

Blessings,

Julie

Adventures…(Photo intensive post)

Well, it’s Sunday evening here, the Vikings managed to find a way to loose again and I’m still battling a cold. On the plus side, it was a beautiful day, spaghetti sauce is bubbling away on the stove and I’m remembering my knitting skills.

Although this blog is mainly about my needlework endeavors, I thought I’d share a bit of our weekend up north (September 14th-17th) in photos. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

This is your’s truly on the trail. In case you wondered, I don’t glow, I sweat! Those things in my hands that look like ski poles are actually Nordic walking poles…designed to help give the upper body a workout when hiking. In this case they also helped me keep my balance over hundreds!!!!!!! of rocks. LOL Still, it was a beautiful day. My hat…the same hat that seen me through about a 100 pound weight loss…says ‘Endorsed by No One’. For some reason that struck my funny bone.

Next:

This is DH at the Split Rock Lighthouse overlook. It was a cloudy day but he was (and we was) still enjoying himself (and ourselves). He didn’t really want me to take his picture. Can you tell? 🙂

Split Rock

Aforementioned Split Rock Lighthouse.

And:

Room at the Lodge 2

Our room at Cove Point Lodge. It was beautiful…and included a Scandinavian Style breakfast.

This is the view from our room…the great lake they call ‘Kitchi Gummi’ (to quote Gorden Lightfoot). We could hear the water lapping at the short all night long. What a GLORIOUS symphony! We also did another rock scramble to get out to that point you see. We made it at sunset. It was worth every calorie burned.

Finally: A couple of photos from Silver Cliff. This area used to be a dangerous part of Highway 61 going north out of Duluth, but they blasted a hole through the cliff, put in a tunnel and the old road has turned into a biker and pedestrian overlook…boasting a beautiful view of the lake.

I’m smaller than the cliff :-)

Okay…I admit it’s a silly grin, but this is the cliff that gives Silver Cliff it’s name. I’d never gotten this close before. 🙂

what a view

The view north and east. Even with the cloud cover it’s stunning.

A little fall color

…and a little fall color.

I will leave you with a photo of the Aerial Bridge…marking the entrance to the Duluth/Superior harbor.

Aerial Bridge

All in all it was a fine weekend. A little shopping, time with Dan’s folks and a little exploring.

My hope this week is to update my Needlework Library Listing and take some photos of ‘adventures in knitting’ as well as the Mary Beale Advent Sampler.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Blessings,

Julie

In like a lion…

It’s a beautiful day out there, at least from my safe and warm perch. It’s probably not so beautiful if you have to fight traffic. Thankfully, I don’t have to think about that for another hour.

For those of you not in the midwest United States, we are getting our second major snowstorm of the week. So, today I thought I’d share a photo or two taken from our master bedroom deck. (Gosh, I love technology, digital cameras are so much fun, even if I can’t figure out how to size them here. :-))March in Minnesota

Frosted Trees

Isn’t my backyard pretty? 🙂 This is one of the reasons I love Minnesota, that and our complex does the shoveling.

Now, on to needlework. First of all, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment. It’s so much fun to read them and you are all so kind and encouraging. Thank you!

I’ve been stitching the last few days on my Papillion Creations Mystery sampler. I decided I wanted to do the Peacock center. Here’s my most current WIP photo:

Papillion Creations Mystery WIP

I love the colors in this sampler. It’s a tad more busy than a lot of pieces I choose, but it’s wonderfully…um…different in that vibrant sort of way.

I’ve also updated my on-line photo album and have posted the link on my sidebar. Next on my list to add: Photos from our Caribbean cruise last December.

Today I will be stitching on Papillion Creations for a final day then on to start Judy’s Neighborhood RR. I also need to download the part 3 of Chatelaine Mystery X (can you say ‘hopelessly behind?’) and my new issue of ‘The Gift of Stitching’.

Have a wonderful day!

Blessings,

Julie

(Edited to add: I now have our cruise pictures in my webshot album for anyone who wants a peek at how we spent two weeks last December)