Shop Hop

The above images have absolutely nothing to do with this post – I just threw them in for the men in the audience.  This post is about my recent Quilt Shop Hop trip with my quilting friends; if you don’t want to read about quilting, fabric and a girls weekend of  travel you should back away slowly and have a nice day 😉

A couple of my quilting friends and I just returned from the Central Washington Quilt Shop Hop.  For those of you who have never done a Shop Hop, let me explain.

A group of quilt shops get together and sponsor a Shop Hop, a special promotional event to encourage quilters to visit all the shops in the area.  There are prizes and gifts and special hours during the hop.  The map above is the one for our trip.  We visited eleven shops (twelve if you count the Ben Franklin store in Monroe) in two and a half days and covered over 600 miles.  Central Washington has a lot of small towns 50 miles or so apart and I think we saw them all.

At each shop you get your card stamped and a letter to complete the mystery phrase.  The object is to collect all the letters, solve the phrase and turn in your card at the last shop so you are in the prize drawing.

We saw some awesome and inspiring displays on the trip.

Quilt shops have their own personalities too, and some are truly unique.  Here is one in a re-modeled bank building, see the old vault still in place?

This one is really a creative use of an old space.  Can you guess what this building used to be before it was a quilt shop?

OK here is the answer.

Yes, it really was the old barn where they kept the buggy.  It is located on a still working ranch and we drove a mile and a half down a gravel road to find it.  And now it is home to quilts, lots and lots of quilts.  So many quilts they are displayed on every wall and even the ceiling.

There are even bolts of fabrics and quilts in . . . well you can see where they are.  I don’t believe there is ANY space that is not used.

We also found some great places to eat along the way.  At each shop in a town where we were going to eat we asked them for their recommendation – and they never steered us wrong.

This place was one of my favorites.  An old factory (did I mention I like old things?) that was turned into a cafe and bakery.  Filled with antiques and funky finds, lots of personality.

And the food was delicious!  Fresh bread baked daily  and lots of wonderful bakery creations – mmmgood!  We stopped at this bakery the next day.

I’m not sure which was more important to us, the fabric or the food.

One of the things I like best about quilting is to see each individual quilter’s creativity and ideas.  Two people – or a whole group – can use the exact same pattern and their finished quilts will each be unique.

The star table topper above is the one our quilt group is scheduled to do at our October Overnighter.  I bought the pattern last year, our instructor made it up as an example last week and I took this picture before we left on the Shop Hop.

We saw another example of the same pattern hanging on the wall of the first shop.

And we saw another one at the next shop.

And the next.

Almost every shop we went into had that same table topper pattern made up and displayed.  It was very interesting to see all the different looks you can get from the same pattern.

All the same pattern and all look so unique. The one below gets my vote for most creative.

We were talking with the shop owner in Twisp admiring the center circle and spider web she stitched into hers and she told us that was an accident!  Due to a cutting error the center didn’t work out exactly like it was supposed to so she used the fabric circle to fix it.  Then it reminded her of a spider web so she stitched one in.  Quilters never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity.

We had a great trip and a lot of fun.  By my calculations at our current rate of completing one project per month at our overnighter we now have enough fabric and projects to last us through 2015.  You have to plan ahead 😉

Pasture Fencing

We – that means all of us, the ones working (Rick and Alex) and the one taking the pictures –  have been working steadily on getting our lower pasture fenced so our cattle can winter at home this year.

Last year you may remember they spent the winter in our rented pasture at Marjorie’s.  It was cold, snowy, wet and miserable for a while.

The cattle didn’t look too happy about it either.  We stored hay in our stock trailer parked next to her pasture so we didn’t have to haul hay down too often.

Everyone survived, but it wasn’t an ideal set up.  This year we plan to have all our cattle at home in our own pasture for the winter.  While it will probably still be cold, wet and snowy they will be closer which will be easier.  And the fencing will be barbed wire instead of solar.  We learned last year that solar fencing and snow don’t mix very well.  It can be done, but it is a lot of extra work.  So, we are working on fencing.

We’ve found the soil in our lower pasture to be much better and less rocky – yeah!  The auger can actually dig down more than six inches without hitting rocks.  We were able to do about 15 or 20 fence post holes on the same auger bolts.  You can see the bolts that connect the lower red turning part of the auger to the top not-turning part (I hope I didn’t lose you with the technical terms).

When we do post holes in the really rocky soil those bolts can last about 2 minutes before they break and shoot off.  Here they were bent but hung in there until the last post.

Rick finished up that hole with his post hole diggers, and even that wasn’t so bad because the ground isn’t as rocky.

We certainly aren’t fast at fence building, but we are making progress.

Hopefully we will have it all done before winter.

Spokane Fair

We have just returned from a trip to the Spokane Fair and Lowline Cattle Show there.

By the way, I used to think that Spo-KANE was pronounced to rhyme with candy CANE; I was quickly corrected when we moved up here though. It is pronounced Spo-Kan like tin CAN.  Just thought you might want to know that little tidbit.

We helped out with the Lowline Angus Show put on by the Northwest Lowline Association.  The NWLA has members from all over the Pacific Northwest; Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada.  It was fun to visit with our fellow members and see the judging and show.

Since we didn’t take our animals to the show, I got to spend a little time visiting with the judge .  He’s the guy in the white hat below and guess what?  He’s an Aggie (that means he graduated from Texas A & M for those of you who don’t speak the lingo).  Like all good Aggies he had on his ring  and we discussed our mutual connection to A & M and College Station, Texas.  He was a good judge too and did a nice job with the people and the cattle.

Rick and I both raised and showed 4-H animals at our local fair when we were young.  It was a fun thing to do, but neither of us is really interested in showing our animals again; we are concentrating on raising our Lowlines for delicious grass-fed beef.   These two young ladies were very excited to show their animals.  They were the youngest participants in the show – and they had a great time.  

I always had on my 4-H uniform when I showed; I never got to wear a sparkly shirt.   Maybe I should re-think my decision not to show cattle anymore if it means I could wear a sparkly shirt?  The two sparkly princesses showed in group classes with their dads.

They also entered the showmanship class.  It was fun to watch them and they did a great job.

 Our friends from Muddy Creek Ranch were at the show and their cattle did really well in the competition.   These three of their animals were awarded Grand Champion Cow, Grand Champion Female and Grand Champion Bull.   

The heifer in the middle, MCR Crazy Sage, was also crowned Supreme Champion Lowline Percentage Exhibit of the fair.

Congratulations to them and good for us as our cattle have some of the same genetics as the ones they showed.  It is nice to know we have really solid breeding in our cattle as we continue to build our herd.   It was good to see our friends, conduct the business of the Lowline Association, and now we are back to our ranch working on fencing.

Ready or Not

Now that it is September we finally have our first tomatoes that are almost ripe.

We have had a long stretch of beautiful, sunny, warm days.

Which makes it hard to believe that fall is just around the corner.

This is a reminder.

No, these are not pictures left over from last year.  I took these within the past two days.  The vine maples are turning and starting to show their fall colors.

I think vine maples are nature’s alarm clock.  They remind you that fall is coming and winter is not far behind and you better be ready.

So, we have been hard at work on fencing our lower pasture to have a place for our cattle to spend the winter.  Rick and I have been making pretty good progress.

Of course, we are always happy to have help.  Especially younger, stronger help.  Nick helped unload some of the posts we hauled home from our cousin’s at The Ranch on Salmon Creek last year.

The other big item on our agenda right now is cutting and splitting plenty of firewood for winter.  Riah helped with splitting the wood.

Isn’t that a nice looking pile of wood?  I was Riah’s helper and let me tell you folks it was HOT!  Over 85 degrees and around here that is a heat wave.

Nevertheless, we got a pretty good amount of wood cut and stacked.  Some of those logs we split were the ones cut almost five years ago – the first year we owned AAR.  I think they should be pretty well seasoned by now, don’t you?

So like the ant in the children’s story, we will keep plugging along to prepare for the coming winter.  We have learned that ready or not, winter weather comes here; and it is a lot easier if you are prepared.  I confess when we are working on fencing in the hot sun I sometimes think of sitting in front of a blazing fire in the woodstove looking out the window at the softly falling snow, drinking a nice cup of hot chocolate.  I plan to enjoy it.