Sunday, April 30, 2023

The towels were so fluffy at our B & B (Chris's house) we could hardly get the suitcase closed!

Friday was a beautiful night for dinner with Chris on the patio at Big Grove Brewery in Solon. Temperatures went down from there. Sundays high expected to be 49°.🥶

Pat and I finished our doctor visits in Lee's Summit, MO last week. 15 doctor visits in two weeks = old age! Pat had one more appointment in Ottumwa and I have to go back to Lee's Summit in May for a test, but in the meantime we have moved on to Iowa.

This is our down time of the year, kind of. Pat's sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Mike, are letting us park by their house. Another sister offered us a spot too. I'm just happy to avoid Goose Poop Park, lol. We will be in Iowa until the latter part of May.  During this time we have a trip to our youngest son's, a canoe trip, a high school graduation and, of course, time with Pat's  Mom, Mary, and other family.

Then we head out west and hopefully, barring floods and forest fires, finish up our last 3 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and National Parks. Have I mentioned we have ended year 4 of our 5 year "mission?" 

Finished is better than perfect, or so quilters say!  Well, it's not perfect but it is done, pieced, and quilted. This was a table runner project from the MSQC retreat I went to a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday we went to see the Mehaffey bridge near Solon and on to Coralville for lunch at 30 Hop. 

French toast with a blueberry sauce. I skipped the mascarpone stuffing, but if you could handle dairy I bet it was as good as the French toast.

Heading from Coralville towards Solon, IA we came across this bridge crossing the Iowa River in Johnson County. My first thought was a cable-stayed bridge, but of course there were no cables. So what was the purpose of the concrete pieces? Functionality, design? The first Mehaffey bridge was built in 1896. It was replaced by another in 1965, and then by this one in 2016. They wanted a unique design that also allowed boats to easily travel under. It turns out it actually is a cable-stayed design with only 4 pillars, allowing for an open channel. This rare "extradosed bridge" has cables that are encased in the concrete spars for low maintenance and flood resistance. 
Mehaffey Bridge 

Saturday night we were treated to a delicious dinner courtesy of Chef Amber and her assitant Tyler, and homemade ice cream by Chris (good thing we always bring the ice cream maker when we come 😆). Braxton also shared the hand pies and puff pastry he made at a cooking class. The class teacher is also the maker of the best macaroons, sold all over the area. I was so stuffed! Always fun seeing them, and Braxton and Carter. Two GREAT kids! The boys headed to Chris' video game room after dinner. 

In 1847 immigrants from the Netherlands settled in Iowa. In Dutch "Pella" means city of refuge, and so this small town became for these people as they sought refuge from religious persecution.

How many years did we live in Iowa? A lot, but I had never been to the Tulip Festival in Pella nor, to my recollection (which isn't very good), seen the Tulips in full bloom. We took a detour on our way to see Chris in Ely to see the Tulips. The festival is May 4-6 this year. Tulips bloom from early April through the middle of May and you can enjoy over 300,000 Tulips throughout the town. The festival itself is enjoyed by over 200,000 people with lots of Dutch food, costumes, town history, entertainment, and it is always hoped, beautiful Tulips. With Iowa weather, however, you can't always count on prime tulip viewing right on the festival weekend. 

One year we passed through Pella on RAGBRAI (end of July) and the town basically had a Tulip Festival, minus the tulips of course, for me and my 20,000+ friends. Great Dutch food.

There is so much to see in this Dutch town but today we focused on the square area tulips. There were a lot of other visitors today, either trying to catch the Tulips at their prime or avoiding the upcoming festival crowds. Lots to go back and see, sunken garden park with it's shoe-shaped pond, Schulte House Museum, the Klokkenspel (not sure how I missed this), the Pella Opera House, Molengracht Canaland probably more.

Pella's sundial is more accurate than a watch. 

One of two Dutch bakeries on the square. 

The line at the Jaarsma bakery was fairly long inside but we waited in it to get a traditional Dutch Letter, an 'S' shaped letter filled with an almond paste. Pat chose an apple fritter. Honestly, there was just too much to choose from!

We might have had a long line inside but later the line was down the sidewalk.

Built in the Netherlands the Vermeer Windmill was disassembled, shipped to Pella, and reassembled there in 2002. Resembling an 1850's-style grain mill, it is the tallest working Dutch grain mill in America. Local restaurants use the flour it produces.

Where are the Piepers now? Ottumwa, IA

Saturday, April 15, 2023

"Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." --Benjamin Franklin

You usually hear this as it applies to tasks or jobs, particularly ones you don't want to do, and you try to find any reason to put them off. I'm applying it to tasks you would love to do like travel, or maybe try something new. There is certainly a time in your life, such as when you have children, an illness, or the care of a family member, for example, when those things must wait. When you reach a certain time in your life, however, just go for it!

My dear friend, who went to extraordinary measures to get us tickets by the way, and myself went to a Missouri Star Quilt Company Doan Girls Retreat in Hamilton, MO 4 days last week. It was AMAZING! So much fun, learning, quilting, eating, laughing,  shopping, and meeting wonderful new people.

We began Tues. morning with a tour of the warehouse/long-arm quilting area. Very interesting! It was amazing to watch it all in action.

They have two retreat sites. A smaller spot by their shops can accommodate 40. The one at the Hotel Hamilton, where we stayed, can house nearly 60. They utilized both places to sleep 100 but all activities were at Hotel Hamilton. There were people from all over, including one from Australia. They gave us so many freebies, fabric, tools, and even a MSQC jigsaw puzzle. As we gathered on Tues. (some arrived Mon. evening) we went downtown for a scavenger hunt. Each MSQC store had a gift for us as well as other stores downtown. 

It was sad when it ended Friday, but boy was I tired. Hope we get to go again next year Debbie and maybe bring some others with us? They have been offering 5 Doan Girl Retreats each year along with many other retreats (including private ones), the MSQC Academy, and other events. ALL fun!

The Hotel Hamilton was renovated to include 6 guest suites. Each suite has two bedrooms, with five beds each that connect to a shared sitting room. As well as seating and a TV there are 4 sinks, each located by a bathroom that includes a shower.

 Located next to the hotel is a 7,200 sq. ft. event center which includes a kitchen. The hotel and event center are not owned by MSQC.

Jenny always has a story to tell, is very inspirational, and has a wonderful sense of humor! All three ladies are so kind and make you feel like family. We need to thank the Doans and so many others that put this great retreat together!

Our first class Weds. morning was presented by Jenny. 

The Block Star Quilt will be 74" x 81 1/2". I have just a little bit left to complete, lol.

Wednesday afternoon was Natalie's turn. When one presented, the other two made that block.

The Connected Heart Table Runner will be 20" x 30" completed.

The hearts were indeed cute Natalie, but they were the hardest of anything we made! As with all of their patterns they take what looks complicated though and make it so easy.

Misty had her turn Thurs. morning.

Periwinkle Squared will be 72" x 72". This was the easiest of all three.

My finished block. We were encouraged to make one block each lesson and then they took a group picture at the end of each day with that block. Yes, a few actually completed the entire daily project.

We were also encouraged to bring a project to work on. I chose an easy half square triangle table runner. Debbie and I took time to go shopping downtown each day, but some people took full advantage of their time to quilt. We stopped by 10:30 p.m each day but I heard some stayed until 4:30 a.m. the next morning. I felt like quite a slacker.

My wonderful friend Debbie on the left in front. Our other four table mates and "roomies," including one from Saudi Arabia (inside joke) met at this retreat last year and decided to return together. They were from California, Missouri, New Mexico and Michigan.

The first night the Doan girls presented a trunk show on their Triple Play tutorials. They take a theme or a block and show us how they each make it their own.

Weds. evening we were treated to a brand new trunk show on old quilts that Jenny had "rescued."

Our last night, Thurs., was show-and-tell. People shared quilts they finished this week or in the past year, and some shared quilts with a story. The Doans bid us farewell. We all laughed that night and cried.

There was plenty of fun. A little dancing one night.

Let's just say we were laughing so hard!

A few of the Quilt stores. We spent our share of money there. Hamilton was the boyhood home of J. C. Penney.

They have a library where they keep the quilts they make for their tutorials and for Block Magazine. They have a newer store where some of the quilts that have been made are sold. The quilts above have price tags around $1,500 each, give or take a few hundred, the going rate.

The Quilt Museum. Notice the limo in the background.

We enjoyed tea more than once at Mrs. Little's Teas and Toys.
Where are the Piepers now? Lee's Summit, Mo.