Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Stockings and more!

The first year we were married I made my hubby and I stockings from Vogue Pattern 1312, which is no longer in print. I embroidered our names on the stockings' cuffs, from the iron-on letters which came in the pattern. At the time I didn't consider that these stockings are extra large and would need to be filled with lots of goodies. We still fill each other's stocking every Christmas, and sometimes those stocking stuffers have been quite interesting, including, socks, toothpaste, candy, cd's, dvd's, shaving cream, or you name it!!

When our kids were born my mom made stockings for them, but we decided to make them smaller than the original pattern size with embellishments of applique, lace and ricrac, and of course, their names embroidered on the cuffs! Fast forward 25 years, the tradition continues: I made stockings for our Nicole and David, to hang at their home.
A few years later, I made a stocking for our daughter-in-law, Angelina. Amazingly, the letter iron-ons still imprint more than 30 years later! Our kids' original stockings and their spouses' stockings hang along with ours from our mantel.

In 2010 I then made a set of stockings for Alex, Angelina, and my grandson, Micah.
I varied the pattern by making their family stockings out of red minkee and flannel.

Back in 2007, I made a stocking for our first granddaughter, Gigi, with an appliques angel, similar to the one her mom's grandma made for her. Last year, I also made a stocking for my grandson, Brody, embellished with baseball bats and a ball!
This year I made a stocking for our newest granddaughter, Hallee. The Bennett family's stockings are all made from Christmas Batiks!

The tissue pattern pieces are well worth and getting thin, and a few of the letters don't imprint as dark as they used to, but that hasn't stopped me from using it over and over. It's a shame this pattern isn't available anymore because it has so many cute Christmas projects I have made through the years (pictured above): ornaments, wreaths, our Advent Calendar and I still decorate with these projects every year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Glory to God

Our Christmas Letter

2011 was a busy first year of retirement for Nick! He doesn’t know how he ever found time to work he is so busy everyday! We’ve done quite a bit of traveling, too. So much, that my job at the quilt shop was getting in the way of more travel, so I “retired” in May.

We went on two cruises: in January, we cruised the Panama Canal (which was a spectacular sight to see), and spent a few days in Florida, driving down to the Keys with friends; and in September, we took a New England/Canada cruise with friends, my sister and my mom, after which we took a train from Newark, NJ, to spend a couple of days in Philly. In March, we visited many American Historic sites in Washington DC and spent time in Virginia with friends. We have discovered we really like the East, seeing all the history that is there, and we hope to go back in the near future.

We hit Spring Training again with Nicole, David and family as well as David’s parents, staying at a really nice Resort in Surprise, Arizona. Alex also joined us for a couple of days, which was nice. In April, we met our friends, the Nances, for an Abalone Dive Trip in Fort Bragg, CA. In October, we headed north again to spend a few days with our friends (the Nances) in Redding, then continued north to Bend, Oregon, for a week. What a gorgeous area! We saw the vivid fall colors we had missed in New England, having been there too early in the fall! On our return trip home, we stopped in Yreka to spend a wonderful evening with Nick’s sister, Sibbie and her family.

We rounded out the year with a couple of weekends RVing at Newport Dunes, a couple of RV trips to Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton for Quilt Retreats for me, and, of course, our annual beach camping trip for Thanksgiving week at San Elijo St Beach, Cardiff; it poured rain the first night, and then we had a beautiful week with family and friends.

While we love RVing, traveling and cruising, the highlight of the year was the birth of our youngest granddaughter, Hallee Hope Bennett, born on June 7 !!!

It’s hard to believe she is already 6 months old. Needless to say, Nicole and David’s house is never silent with Gigi, 4.5 yrs, Brody, 20 months, and now little Hallee, and often things are a bit chaotic!

Alex and Angelina are constantly running after Micah, 19 months. Micah didn’t just start walking one day, he ran, and he hasn’t stopped. We love seeing all the kids together as they interact more and more.

Our lives are rich with the love of family and friends. We’ve learned we can’t take life for granted and we are so thankful. We are blessed to have 4 adorable grandchildren to hug and squeeze and spoil with love. We enjoy every minute we are with them, even though we are sometimes exhausted after spending hours with them. The best sound in the world is when one of them yells, “Yaya!” or “Papa!” as they enter the house or RV; it

warms our hearts every single time!

May your holidays be filled with special memories as we celebrate

the true reason for this day, the birth of Christ.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year!

With love,

Karen and Nick

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Being Thankful !

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd share my whimsical,wall hanging for Thanksgiving.

On a more serious note, as I reflect on Thanksgivings past, I am reminded of all the good times we have had as a family and our life long tradition of "camping" for the holiday. Family and friends join us in this tradition. We used to camp from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday morning. But over the years we have added a day or two to the time we spend camping, at the beach (South Carlsbad State Beach or San Elijo State Beach, with a couple of years spent at the San Mateo Campground in San Clemente, part of the San Onofre State Beach). The last few years we have camped for the entire week of Thanksgiving, rain or shine! I say "rain or shine" because we've had a few years with downpours of rain, but it never dampened our holiday spirit.

This is a time to be thankful, and I have much to be thankful for: my health, my family, my grandchildren, my life, my God. I was inspired by a "pin" on Pinterest, which linked me with the blog, simplyvintagegirl, so I made my own Thankful Tree.
With a grateful heart and joyous praise I give thanks to God who blesses us all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spontaneous Family Fun Day

On the spur of the moment, Nick and I went with Nicole, Gigi, Brody and Hallee to WAP, one day, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, now known as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We still refer to it as the Wild Animal Park, some things are hard to change!

It was a beautiful 70 degree day with a light breeze blowing. As we walked all around the park, we saw the elephants, tigers, lions, gorillas, including the newest baby gorilla, named Monroe, who is almost the same age as Hallee, born a couple of weeks after her in June.We also saw so many beautiful flowers all around the park.

While walking through the Lion area the funniest thing happened. The lions were lazing around in the sun, when one of the lions sneezed. We were standing on a bridge area behind a fence. Brody was standing next to papa, and jumped behind papa at the sudden sound of the lion's sneeze! He was quite startled. He also didn't like the sounds coming from the "jungle cars" in the kids play area.

Hallee slept through much of the day, while Gigi ran and skipped her way around the park. Brody rode in the stroller half the time, and the other half he tried to keep up with Gigi, which wasn't an easy thing for him, since he's still a bit unsteady on his feet, especially when he tries running.

We ate lunch at the park and enjoyed a waffle ice cream cone. After our "snack" we stopped by the meer cats exhibit so see them all "sunning" themselves. And, a visit to the WAP wouldn't be complete without a ride on the carousel! Gigi and mommy rode on animals, and it wasn't easy to capture them while they rode round and round!
Brody didn't want to ride on an animal so he opted for a seat with papa.

Days like this one make extra special memories because we see things through the eyes of our grandbabies!

More pictures.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Trip to Oregon

We took an RV trip up to Bend, Oregon, a couple of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the "fall colors," we had been too early for when we were in New England in Sept.

We visited our friends, the Nances, in Redding, CA, for a few days on our way to Bend and on our way back. One night our friends the Lauries came over from Paradise,
for a birthday dinner in honor of Sue. [Nick, Karen, Rick, Lynn, Sue & Bill]
It was great seeing them and spending some long overdue time with good friends!

The weather was clear, sunny and warm while we were in northern California. Nick and Rick went fly fishing and bear hunting, while Lynn and I had our own "quilt retreat" and sewed for a couple of fun days.We were able to complete the first three blocks in the "America the Beautiful" BOM (2011 block of the month from McCalls' Quilting magazine) we are making together.

Once we arrived in Bend, however, we were surprised to discover how cold it was. Nick had to immediately change from his shorts to jeans! The air was very crisp and the sky was a gorgeous blue, which should have been our first clue of the weather to come. The first day it was 38 degrees when we got there in the early afternoon. That night the temp got to a high of 15 degrees. The next day it got into the low 40's and that night it only dropped to 20 degrees.

We stayed at a fantastic RV Resort, Crown Villa , right near the beginning of town. The sites are all 72' long, made with pavers. Each site has a storage cabinet you can use at the back of the site and the sites are extra wide, maybe 45' wide with lots of grass.

We drove around the town of Bend, a very, quaint town. The vibrant, rich yellow, rust and red leaves were everywhere we looked and so beautiful. We walked along the beautiful Deschuttes River in the Old Mill District of Bend. We had dinner one night, downtown at McMenamin's Pub and Tavern.
Nick went fly fishing and we visited a couple of cute quilt shops.
One afternoon we took a beautiful drive northwest to the cute little town of Sisters, Oregon, and visited the famous quilt shop, The Stitching Post. I really want to return (maybe next July) for their Outdoor Quilt Show that is the second Saturday in July every year (2011 was the 36th Annual Outdoor Quilt Show).

On our return to Redding we stopped and visited Nick's sister and family in Yreka, CA. We hadn't been to their Historic Victorian home in many years, and we got to see all the remodeling they have done,and more "Fall Colors" as well. It was great catching up with family.

More photos of our trip on flickr!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I just discovered that my last post was my 100th post!
How exciting!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple Picking in Juilan

Last weekend we took our motorhome to KQ Ranch RV
Resort in Julian, for Apple Days, and in honor of David's birthday.
Julian is about an hour and a half from us in the local mountains.
{Grandbabies and Proud Grandparents}

Nicole, David, 3 grandkids, Dan and Jeri joined us for a fun weekend of camping at the resort. The town was hopping, or as Gigi said, "It's bumping!!" (I think her daddy taught her that saying!) Lots of tourists were walking all around the small quaint town of Julian.

The weather was warm, sunny and beautiful all weekend. Nighttime was cooler but not too cold. We took walks around the resort, rode bikes, and relaxed in camp. Mommy, Hallee and Gigi slept in the motorhome with Yaya and Papa. It's always an adventure for Gigi to sleep in the motorhome. She was so excited about sleeping on her camping mat and in her very own sleeping bag on the floor of the motorhome!

On Saturday we drove just outside of Julian to pick apples at one of the local apple orchards. Gigi really had fun picking the apples off the trees and putting them into her very own bag.
She's at a great age (4 yr)!! It is pure joy to see her excitement, written all over her cute face at doing new and fun things. After apple picking, we enjoyed lunch "downtown" Julian and yummy famous apple pie ala mode!

Gigi loved riding her bike around the resort. She has a cute way of coaxing just about anyone to go with her! She also enjoyed feeding the nearby horse a big carrot. She's like an energizer bunny----she is go go go all day long--no napping for this "big" girl!

Brody (18 mon) had the most fun just being a boy and getting as dirty as possible. He loved playing with the set of MatchBox cars that were his daddy's, right in the dirt! He go go goes too!!

But he does finally give way to resting, here coming close to sleep on dad's lap! Daddy and brody slept in their tent!

The litttlest camper, Hallee (4 months) did a lot of cooing, sleeping and eating, but she also enjoyed the outdoors. She's been camping twice already at her young age. She loves being held, but she has to be facing everyone so she can see all around her. Mom just carries her around in the Ergo or Moby and she's fine.
Here she is sitting with Papa and talking up a storm! She's too cute!

You can see more Apple Days pictures here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cruising the Eastern Seaboard

{Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth-Portland, Maine}

New England/Canada 9 Night Cruise

At the beginning of September we cruised up the eastern coastline of North America. We flew into Newark Liberty International Airport, and set sail on this adventure on the RCCL Explorer of the Seas, from the Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne, New Jersey. Our ports of call included: Portland, Maine; Bar Harbor, Maine (known to locals as BA HA BA !!); St John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; and Boston, Massachusetts!

We cruised with our good friends, Gary and Cindy, and my mom and sister, Kathy.
Fun times were had by all on and off the ship.
{St John New Brunswick, Canada}

We saw a lot of history in these towns that are older than any in California. We walked on some original cobblestone streets, visited some famous lighthouses, Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Peggy's Point Lighthouse, St Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia, eat Lobster Rolls (Yum!), and Whole Maine Lobster
{I'll stick with Austrailian or Pacific Lobster tails, thank you! I didn't much care for the eyes of the lobster looking at me--so I jumped, thinking the lobster moved, and gave the waiter the biggest laugh of the day!!!!}.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, we visited the cemetery where the victims of the Titanic were buried so many years ago. We took a few sightseeing tours, a Duck tour of old Boston and the oldest baseball park in the USA, Fenway Park (that's PAAAArk in Bostonian, long accent on short vowel sound!).
{ Nick is leaning on the infamous Green Monster at Fenway}

The ship was a large one, the largest cruise ship we've gone on. It could accommodate 3,800 passengers, but there were only 3,056 of us!!! It had a Promenade down the middle of the ship where the shops were located, a couple of bars and coffee shop, much like an indoor mall which was very cool and a great place to people watch.

For the first time we had a balcony room on the back (AFT) of the ship. It was great. The balcony was larger and we had no wind. Too bad it was not a hot super sunny trip. Weather was ok, mostly in the high 60's - 70's, some cloudy days, few drizzles too, but that didn't dampen our fun.

At the end of the cruise, Nick and I took the train from Newark to Philadelphia for a few days. What a pretty city Philly is. Of course we enjoyed Philly Cheesesteaks! We took a trolley tour around downtown, visited Independence Hall, saw the Liberty Bell, and visited Citizens Bank (baseball) Park, the home of the Phillies, where we had a fabulous tour. We even got to go into the dugout and the players' locker room! Very cool to see all the "behind the scenes" stuff!!
Cruising is a great way to get an overview of places we've never been, but it doesn't afford us any extended time in one place. The East Coast is so lush and green, everywhere, unlike most of California in the fall. The buildings and houses all look so different than what we are used to seeing on the West Coast. As it turned out we were too early to see the Fall Colors, but what we did see really impressed us. We plan to go back to the East Coast, hopefully, in the not too distant future, in our RV, and take more time to see and soak in the beauty of the New England states.

To see more of our pictures go to my flickr page.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Wonder

Hello blogland!!
It's been a while since I've blogged. I've been going through some old papers of my mom's and came across this beautiful poem my grandmother, her mother wrote in 1948. She penned it on a lined 4 x 6 page from a memo pad and entitled it, "I Wonder."

A flood of memories comes to mind when I see her handwriting, which is so familiar to me, even though I haven't seen it in so very many years. She was a wonderful person, loved by everyone. My sister and I called her Grandma, and the neighborhood called her Grandma Dodge because she was the neighborhood grandma for sure! She was such an amazing Godly woman, a true inspiration to me. She meant so much to me I honored her by giving her name to my daughter, Nicole Viola, who is also an amazing Godly woman and inspiration to me.

I Wonder

I wonder if one ever thanks
God for the beauty of a sunset,
Or for the laughter of
a child at play,
Or for the rain
that leaves our garden wet,
Or for the glory of the dawning day.

I Wonder

Viola Dodge 1948

Thank you, God, for the beauty of a sunset and the laughter of children at play,
(especially the play of my 4 grandchildren!).
Thank you, God Almighty, for the rain I do love, and how the rain provides nourishment for gardens everywhere on earth.
Thank you God, "for the Glory of the Dawning Day!"
Thank you God for every Dawning Day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Brown Bag Quilt Retreat

I just returned from attending another Brown Bag Quilt Retreat in Buellton, our third retreat this year. (We are hoping to go to the November retreat, but we are only on the wait list right now).

We had so much fun as we always do, sewing pretty much non-stop from 8:30 am on Friday till 3 pm on Sunday. Ok, we did go back to our RV's or homes for some sleep--but not much. We sewed until 12:30 am Friday night and returned by 8:45 am. Saturday we sewed till 1:15 am and returned on Sunday morning by 8:30 am. Our husbands (Lynn's and mine) still think we are crazy, and they can't understand how we can stay inside sewing or quilting for that much time. We've told them it's not near enough time--we'd love a week long retreat!!

Here's a look at my Quilting BFF's from the retreat:
Nancy (also the Retreat Hostess with the Mostest!)
working on her Floral Block of the Month, preparing the blocks to be hand appliqued using the freezer paper method. She does beautiful applique work!! Here's her first two blocks:Lynn,

working on her Mystery Block of the month (her husband and mine hang out at the RV park, play darts and cards, and miss us while we are at the retreat!).

And, Dolores, another local,
sewing her blocks together on this very pretty quilt!

For this retreat I decided would work on finishing a few WISP's rather than starting a new project (another thing about sewing and quilting our husbands don't understand--starting a new project before finishing one!) So I pulled this project out of my closet, Love Ya Oodles, by Quilt Soup. I think I started it 4 years ago. I had gotten all the squares done but needed to put them all together. It took me a while to figure out where I was. (Note to self: make notes as to where I left off, should I leave a project to finish for years!!!)

Although the pattern calls for doing the applique prior to sewing the whole top together, I plan to use paperback fusible for my applique, so I chose to sew the top together first.It is still a WISP but I am much closer to finishing this quilt. I'm now in the process of choosing the fabrics for all the appliqued flowers and hope to get them sewn on in the next two weeks.

I also made two pillowcases and three more Batik Strippy Totes for friends. I just love making these bags for gifts!! Each one turns out so cute and I'm tempted to keep it.
With these 3 I have now made 19 of these pretty totes!!

I designed this quilt for a friend's first grandson. Her daughter's theme is turtles, so I made these happy turtles to applique on the quilt and I am so pleased with the way it turned out.
I just need to quilt and bind it, (again hopefully in the next two weeks!) and it will no longer be a WISP!

I felt very accomplished at the end of this retreat because I finished what I had planned to finish, a first for me! I usually try to finish way too many projects. (I did take a couple of additional projects just in case I had extra time! Wouldn't want to run of projects!) I'm sure I'm not alone when I say it's a great feeling when a quilter gets closer to completing a project, especially one that has been lingering in her "stash" closet!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

4th of July

To celebrate the 4th of July we had a BBQ and Pool Party. The weather was hot, and a bit muggy, but we had a great day filled with family and friends!
Flags were all around...These paper pinwheels were fashioned by Angelina, our creative daughter-in-law!
Sydney wore a red white & blue scarf to honor the 4th.

Even a sleeping baby Hallee (almost 4 weeks old!) wore a red white & blue bow!
Micah enjoyed yaya and papa's pool--usually he doesn't much care for going in a pool,
but since ours was 86 degrees, he seemed to love it, as did Brody...Alex, Micah and Angelina enjoying the pool...

Nicole and Angelina enjoy some time in the sun....while Gigi, Micah and Brody had fun on Micah's splish splash pool, too!

Everyone enjoyed Nick's tasty BBQ'd chicken (which had been marinated in his special secret sauce-recipe from his mom!), salads and chips & dip...
[L to R: Susie, Jenna Angelina & Micah, Papa Nick, Nicole and David]

Best part of the meal, of course, was Nicole's Yummy Patriotic Star Blueberry Cheecake, made from scratch and oh so yummy!!

After dinner Gigi and Brody drove the "John Deere" around the backyard--what fun!

At 8:30 we all headed to Bradley Park in San Marcos for the annual Fireworks show and it is didn't disappoint. Who doesn't like a fireworks show!

Micah seemed to like the lights but he definitely didn't like the noise. Gigi watched the fireworks with her hands on her ears, while Brody just chilled watching them from his stroller!!
As we celebrated Independence Day, we thought of those who have fought for our country to give us this day!
God Bless America!