Sunday, August 31, 2014

Take A Little Trip With Me...

A view of the Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower
from the Bellagio Hotel
As some of you may know, I took a short vacation this past week...which is pretty much unheard had been over five years since I took some time away that didn't involve a work trip or walking 60-miles for charity. My husband, close friends, and family pretty much had to *force* me to go - I felt extremely guilty taking time away and I knew we couldn't afford it - but truth be told, it did lighten my load a bit. I wasn't quite sure how to relax, as I have such a set daily schedule and I am pretty much on auto-pilot at home...and although I was up and ready to go each morning before 6:00 AM and I still got in a training walk each day, I do feel like a had a little time to just breathe. My husband had made arrangements to take me to Las Vegas for a few days....we stayed on the strip at the beautiful Aria Resort & Casino...and I didn't have to take care of work obligations, cooking, cleaning, the yard, or dogs for several days. We rented a car, so we could go out and do some exploring - the lights of Las Vegas are wonderful, but there are so many beautiful things to see in the area...

We arrived on Monday afternoon - enjoyed a leisurely lunch - explored some of the resorts/casinos on Las Vegas Blvd. - including the Bellagio (it's not a trip to Las Vegas without visiting the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)...and we had a light dinner and cocktails at Javier's.

Our hotel room with a view at Aria...

 Fiori di Como chandelier by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly - Bellagio Hotel Lobby

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Javier's in the Aria Hotel - Tequila Tree (my new favorite thing!) - I enjoyed
several AMAZING hand-shaken jalapeno margaritas during our stay...

Tuesday, we traveled to Grand Canyon National Park and although it rained off and on for most of the trip - we really enjoyed the day! It was quite a bit of driving, but we felt it was completely worth it....especially since my husband had never seen the Grand Canyon before. We went to the south rim...and spent almost a full day exploring this beautiful National Park. We got in quite a bit of walking on several of the trails...including one that follows the rim of the canyon. We saw elk, mule deer, and quite a bit of wildlife...including (you guessed it) a squirrel! Then made a stop at In-N-Out Burger (another first for my husband) for a quick bite to eat on the way back to the city.

Wednesday, we explored some more hotel/casinos in the early morning, met Travis's cousin for a late breakfast/early lunch, then made our way to Red Rock Canyon for more amazing Nevada scenery, hiking, and walking. Afterwards, we made the drive to Mt. Charleston Lodge (on of my favorite places on the planet). We took the more scenic (longer) drive to the top of Mt. Charleston, then enjoyed a delicious dinner outside on the deck at the lodge - the view is spectacular...and hummingbirds were buzzing is a magical place and a "must visit" every time we are in the area. Afterwards, we drove back to Las Vegas, where my husband played in a poker tournament (he won!) and I did some exploring/walking on my own...

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

The deck from Mt. Charleston Lodge - view from my seat...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

Thursday, we decided to make the drive to Death Valley National Park - another all day excursion, but worth the drive. It was a balmy 115 degrees (better than a humid 90 degree day in Iowa), but we still did some walking/hiking and had fun visiting quite a few of the scenic stops. Once returning to Las Vegas, we enjoyed a quiet dinner and did a little bit of gambling, before it was time to rest up for our very early morning flight.

Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Travis exploring Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Badwater Pool (yes, water in Death Valley!)

Death Valley - Badwater Basin - 282 feet below sea level...

Yes, we crammed in as much as we could in such a short amount of time...but I wanted to see as much as possible...especially since it may be years before we can take another vacation. I hope you enjoyed my photo journey of the Las Vegas, NV was an inspiring trip...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Five Houses of Hope"
My 2014 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

"Five Houses of Hope"
As many of you know, I am participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day this November – I'll walk 60-miles in Dallas, TX over the course of three days with my fabulous "Twinkle Toes" team members and hundreds, possibly thousands of other women and men....all of us with a common goal to raise funds for breast cancer research, scientific programs and community-based breast health and education programs. I started my journey last November, fundraising and training before the 2013 3-Day event in San Diego was even complete. I have already logged almost 1,000 training miles to prepare for the event this year...and I plan to take every single step of the 60-miles in 3 days this fall! All walkers are required to raise at least $2300.00 to participate...but my goal is actually a bit higher...and I know it seems outrageous, but I believe it is totally doable...

So, here is where my new "pink" Cross Stitch design "Five Houses of Hope" comes into is an exclusive Blue Ribbon Design, available only to those who donate a minimum of $15.00 (USD) to my fundraising page (all proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen 3-Day) gift to you for supporting me and this incredibly worthwhile cause.

First I will tell you how to get this very special design...please read the instructions carefully:
  1. Visit my fundraising page:
  2. Make a minimum donation of $15.00 or more - yes, it is tax deductible.
  3. Send me an e-mail (designer @ with "Five Houses of Hope" in the subject line. The body of the message can be as simple as "I made a donation".
  4. I will verify your donation and reply to your message with a PDF attachment of the design. It's that easy!

    NOTE: If you are overseas and have difficulty with the Komen website or making your donation, you may send your donation to me via PayPal (same e-mail address as above) and note in the comments it is a Komen donation for "Five houses of Hope" and anything special you would like noted on the Fundraising Honor Roll - I will make the donation on your behalf (in your name) and send you the chart as a thank you. E-mail me for more details or with questions.
If you made a donation before I posted this information, I have already sent the design to you (to the e-mail you listed when you made a donation) - you are not required to make an additional donation. If you have not received it, please check your spam and/or trash folder - if it is not there, just send me a message and I will get you taken care of promptly.

Please note, it is not feasible for me to sit at the computer all day and respond immediately - please give me 24-hours to reply to your message - I promise to respond to your e-mail as soon as possible. If you haven't heard from me within a couple days, please check your spam/junk folder (remember, this is a large quality file), then, if still needed, follow up with me. Also, this gift is only available as a PDF file via e-mail, following the instructions above - I will not be mailing printed charts.

About this exclusive design:
"Five Houses of Hope" is a needlework sampler, that was finished into a quilted wall hanging. The PDF chartpack is set-up like all my printed Blue Ribbon Designs and includes: a color photo, charting for the entire sampler, stitching instructions, stitch diagrams, basic finishing instructions, and an alphabet/numbers for personalization - it is a high quality file. You will need Adobe Reader to view/print the e-mailed chart and contents.

I chose an autumn theme because the 60-mile walk is in November...and because November is the month of Thanksgiving - and I am so very grateful for your encouragement and support. Last year I did a more traditional "pink" design, so this year, I wanted to do something a little different - I hope you are pleased!

The entire design is worked in Cross Stitch over-two linen threads (or one Aida fabric square) and Back Stitch. The model was stitched on 40-count hand-dyed fabric (Cocoa by Weeks Dye Works) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss...and a DMC conversion is provided. Floss colors include: Bubble Gum (minimal, for HOPE banner only - choose your favorite pink or alternate color), Cayenne, Chestnut, Curry, Day Lily, Hazelnut, Molasses, Monkey Grass, and Sweet Potato.

One more thing, please remember: "Five Houses of Hope" is protected by copyright law and is meant for personal stitching only by the donating recipient. I kindly ask, please do not share, email, or post the PDF file on the Internet; if your friend(s) would like to stitch this design, please encourage them to visit my fundraising page ( and make a donation to the cause...after-all, ALL proceeds are benefiting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Thank you for respecting my copyright.

Finally - please help me spread the word...if you like the design or think your friend(s) would like it, please share a link to this post on your blog, Facebook, message boards, or other social media...I would really appreciate it!

You can read some of the reasons I decided to take this journey on my fundraising page. I'll be keeping all of my donors in mind, and in my heart, as I walk 60-miles in Dallas in fact, I plan to have a complete list of all donors with me for motivation - if you are making a donation honoring a loved-one or you are a fighter or survivor, please note that in your e-mail - I would be proud and honored to walk for you! Thank you so much for your love and support...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Flowering Snowball With A Twist
AccuQuilt BOB Blog Hop

Hello everyone and welcome to the AccuQuilt BOB Blog Hop - I am so extremely excited to be the very first stop on what is sure to be a very inspiring two weeks! First, let me start by introducing you to BOB - BOB is amazingly creative, super convenient, and can easily add more hours to your quilting day...and BOB has quickly become an AccuQuilt favorite. BOB stands for "Block on Board"...that means, all the shapes needed to make to make a particular quilt block are included on one die board! There are a wide variety of BOBs available, including the following favorites: Ohio Star, Log Cabin, Dunkard's Path, Winding Ways, and Double Wedding Ring (just to name a few!). So grab your favorite AccuQuilt fabric cutter and let's spend some time with BOB....

Today, my focus is on the GO! Flowering Snowball die - it makes a 12" finished block...and although it may look complicated with the curved seams, it truly is quick and easy when working with my new best friend BOB. The gentle curves and notches make this a great block for a beginner wanting to try curved piecing....and the each shape cuts perfectly and swiftly. First, let's take a look at this particular BOB (compatible with the GO! Fabric Cutter...and the Studio Fabric Cutter if you have the GO! Die Adapter):

As you can see, I have labeled the die board shapes with the letters A, B, and C...this makes it quick and simple to cut and assemble the block...and of course, all the shapes you need to make this block are on one die, making it easy peasy!  When you purchase the GO! Flowering Snowball, the free pattern that comes with the die is the GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt (shown below)...and it comes with exact instructions for how to build this dynamic block. For a limited time, you can download this pattern and instructions for FREE, just visit the following link: GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt.

GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt

For my Flowering Snowball project, I decided to mix things up a bit! If you are a regular visitor of my blog, then you know I love to combine traditional piecing and appliqué in my, after creating my Flowering Snowball blocks, in true Blue Ribbon Designs fashion, I decided to add some floral appliqué. I actually started out thinking that my project would be a wall hanging (and it still is/could be), but after completion, I decided it would also make a lovely table topper.

I started out with a base of four 12" Flowering Snowball blocks that looked like this...

...and then used the GO! Round Flower die to cut the floral appliqué. I fused the flowers in place and completed the machine appliqué, then added my borders before quilting and's a Flowering Snowball with an appliqué twist!

I hope you will spend the next couple weeks learning all about BOB (he's really interesting, once you get to know him!)...make sure to visit all the AccuQuilt Blog Hop stops to find out more of BOB's capabilities...I promise these unbelievably talented quilters will motivate and inspire you...

August 18th – Samplings from a Blue Ribbon GirlGO! Flowering Snowball - you are here!
August 19th – Strip Quilter – GO! Ohio Star
August 20th – Freemotion by the River – GO! Log Cabin
August 21st – A Quilting Life – GO! Dresden Plates
August 22nd – Pleasant Home – GO! Blazing Star
August 23rd – Living Water Quilter – GO! Hunter Star
August 24th – Ray’s Sew Crafty – GO! Double Wedding Ring
August 25th – Blue Feather Quilt Studio – GO! Rob Peter to Pay Paul
August 26th – One Stitch at a Time – GO! Double Wedding Ring
August 27th – Beaquilter – GO! Log Cabin
August 28th – Sew Incredibly Crazy – GO! Rob Peter to Pay Paul
August 29th – Sew Fresh Quilts – GO! Ohio Star

Spend a little time with BOB, he's worth getting to know...and make a little time to be creative!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Take A Walk With Me...

The weather (until today) has just been beautiful in Iowa and I have been getting in a Komen 3-Day training walk with Miss Schatzi every single morning. Schatzi, our all-black German Shepherd, is already doing 6+ miles with me every day. We are blessed to be very close to some fabulous Central Iowa Trails...we are exactly one mile from a Jordan Creek Trail entrance, and from there, an abundance of walking choices await us each daybreak. Today, I thought I would take you along on a 6.3 mile journey with us and show you the scenery on one of our favorite walks...

At the entrance to the Jordan Creek Trail...

Along the trail, we come to my very favorite tree...full of life and character...

Then, off to the left, we often see deer in the tall grass...

The trail then leads out to the sidewalk on Mills Civic Parkway, where
we pass Valley Stadium (this is a great incline for training)...then we turn
on Fuller Road and pass the Bennett School. Built in
1926/1927, the Bennett School was one of the last one room schools
 to be built in West Des Moines and was in use until at least 1941.

From there, we come back down the hill and take the path around
the West Des Moines City/School Campus pond and fountain...the
building in the background next to the weeping willow tree is the
West Des Moines Public Library...

Cattails on the edge of the campus pond...

Next, we continue on the path across the street to Southwoods Park,
and you will be amazed at what is coming up on the path...

...a HUGE field of incredible native wild is breathtaking...and so
very is one of my favorite places on earth...

...more native wild flowers...

...wild flowers as far as the eye can see...

Here is Schatzi, VERY intrigued by a dragonfly in the flowers...

After viewing all the gorgeous scenery, I am completely inspired and ready to start my day. We continue back on the trail, past the field where we saw the deer and my favorite tree...back to the trail entrance...and then make the mile walk back to our truly is the perfect way to begin any day!

So I am feeling good - training is going great - and I am feeling prepared for Dallas in November...yes, I am ready for my Komen 3-Day 60-mile journey...and I can't wait to see my AMAZING Twinkle Toes teammates!

If you would like to see my daily 3-Day training photos, simply follow me on Instagram...or check out my Instagram profile page...I have been posting the beautiful images I see on my walks. And, if you have a fitbit, please send me a friend request (e-mail is in my profile) angel surprised me with one about a week ago and I have been having fun keeping track of my daily steps...and being cheered on and taunted by my fitbit friends!

Finally, I am so close to posting my special Komen 3-Day needlework is in the final finishing stages and I will be sharing it within the next few days...I can't wait...look for details very soon!!