Midsummer

Thursday, June 21, was the longest day of the year.  The sun rose at 4:51 AM and set at 8:51 PM giving us 16 hours of light in Worley, Idaho.  As you can see from the chart below, we actually get more light than that because the Civil Twilight is the first and last light.  If I look out the window at 4:00 in the morning, I can clearly see everything in the yard.

Unfortunately, on the summer solstice, we had a storm so it was a bit darker than I was hoping for the longest day of the year.  This was the wildest storm I have experienced here in Worley.  I stood on the deck and watched and heard the storm approach.  I could hear the rain in the trees as it got nearer and the thunder was thunderous, to say the least.  Lightning filled the sky a few times per minute.

The edge of the storm approaches
The downpour (see Instagram for the video)

Shawn had driven to Sacramento to pick up our grandson, Malcolm, so this was my first experience staying by myself in our new house.  The power went off and on three times as I ran around looking for flashlights and wondering how long my phone battery would last.  Without wi-fi, my Grey’s Anatomy binge watch was ruined.

Since Shawn was gone, I also got chicken duty.  The layers are living outside under the walnut tree, but they need to be put to bed at night in case there are any predators out there looking to dine on them.    They are very in tune with the sun and go into the coop on their own at sunset.  I looked out the window and noticed they had gone in early.  I assumed this was due to the storm, so I went out to latch the door on the coop.  As soon as I approached the gate, they all ran out and the little buggers wouldn’t go back in until it was officially sunset.

Roosting in the walnut tree
Large and in charge
In bed for the night

We got a second batch of Frankenchicks a couple weeks ago.  I was asked why we need so many chickens.  We figured we need about 50 chickens for the year.  One chicken gives us 2-3 meals in a week and then we make about 4 quarts of chicken stock from the carcass.

Return of the Frankenchicks

Before Shawn left for Sacramento, we went to a few new places in town.  First, we went to the container store in Athol for food grade buckets, barrels and a tote for the new pig enclosure.  Next, we explored the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  We acquired a stainless steel sink and solid wood door for $30.  Shawn is going to repurpose these as a chicken butchering station.  We also tried out the burgers at Paul Bunyan Famous Burgers.

To amuse myself in Shawn’s absence, I visited a couple of the local quilt shops.  The ladies at Bear Paw Quilting in Coeur d’Alene are very friendly and they have a nice selection of fabrics, patterns, and notions.  In Spokane Valley, Washington, I visited The Quilting Bee.  Aside from Hancock’s in Paducah and Fabric Depot in Portland, I think this is the biggest quilt shop I’ve ever seen.  Between these two shops, I think all my quilting needs will be easily met.  I also picked up their 2018 Row-by-Row kits.

It is huge!

Between storm watch, quilt shops and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, I pulled out my DSLR camera and took pictures around the yard.  The macro lens improved my flower photos, and the zoom lens allowed me to catch a few birds stealing our cherries.

Woodpecker
Magpie

Chuck Norris
Sophie in her bird watching window

Shawn returned with Malcolm on Saturday, and now we have almost three weeks to view Idaho through the eyes of a five-year-old.

First cherry harvest
The birds left us a few cherries
Driving the tractor with Papa

World’s biggest dandelion

Day 10 – Fabric, Donuts and Beer

Due to our adventures in gastronomy while traveling, we usually eat a light breakfast of yogurt, berries and granola.  Today was our first breakfast out.  Sean recommended Blue Star Donuts instead of the usual Voodoo Donuts.  At Blue Star, there was a selection of about 15 gourmet donuts.  We tried the Lemon Poppyseed, Meyer Lemon Key Lime Custard, and Blueberry Bourbon Basil.  While we were enjoying our selections, one of the employees pulled out a blow torch and started caramelizing the tops of donuts so we had to try the crème brûlée donut too.  It had a great crunch on top, but our favorite was the blueberry donut.  A hipster walked in and ordered a dozen assorted for a mere $39.50.

I have been shopping online at Fabric Depot for a few years.  It wasn’t until last week when we were planning our trip that I realized they were in Portland.  We arrived at 11 AM on a Monday and the parking lot was packed.  I walked into the converted auto dealership and was immediately overwhelmed by the selection.  The place is so big that they just added a café (they should really add a brewery for the husbands).  There were long lines at the cutting table and ladies had bolts of fabric stacked in shopping carts.  Turns out they were having a 40% off all fabric sale.  I felt compelled to shop quickly and get in line until I realized I could just take pictures of the fabric lines that I liked and order online.  No standing in lines!

We met Sean for lunch at 10 Barrel Brewing in the Pearl District (Portland is so big that they need to name all the trendy neighborhoods).  We enjoyed a sampler of their brews and a plate of steak & Gorgonzola nachos.  I liked the Double Squishy IPA and Shawn had the Nitro Apocalypse.

We woke up this morning and it was 46 degrees in the RV, but it was a clear sunny day with a high of 70.  While driving we were able to see both Mount Hood and Mount St. Helen.  Living in a city with two rivers, I have come to appreciate bridges.  Sacramento is skimpy when it comes to bridges, but Portland boasts 9 bridges over the Willamette in downtown alone.  Kudos Portland!

In the evening, we went to Sean’s house in Sandy on the outskirts of Portland.  It’s amazing what fifty foot pine trees can do to improve the look of a strip mall.  Sean and his wife live in a cute townhouse in a hilly neighborhood.  A nice mix of suburbia and nature.  We went to their local brewery Bunsenbrewer.  The menu is the periodic table of beers and all their beers are named after scientists.  I enjoyed a beaker of Bill Nye Rye PA.

Tomorrow we begin our travels south heading for Silver Falls state park.  Hopefully, we will find a break in the weather for some hiking at the falls.  We could use a little exercise after Portland.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Blue Star Donuts – 5 stars
10 Barrel Brewery – 4.5 stars
Bunsenbrewer – 3.5 stars
Fabric Depot – so huge it cannot be rated by mere stars

Steps taken – not nearly enough
Loads of laundry done – 3

Day 7 – Maybe We Should Buy a Farm in Tillamook

On a driving day, we start out by figuring out how far we are driving to our next campsite.  Today it was estimated at about 100 miles and 2 hours.  We left South Beach at 10 AM and arrived at Nehalem Bay State Park at 5 PM.  It turns out there is a lot of good stuff to experience in 100 miles, and we took our darn sweet time doing just that.

Our first stop was Pelican Brewing for lunch and a beer sampling.  After Rogue Brewing, it was hard to compete.  Pelican’s beers weren’t bad, they just weren’t as epic as what we had at Rogue yesterday.  Shawn had an elk burger with goat cheese and I had a smoked salmon Caesar salad.

Next stop was the Latimer Quilt & Textile Center.  They were having a showing of quilts with the theme of green and/or recycling by local quilt artists.  While I was admiring the quilts, Shawn wandered into the weaving room and struck up a conversation with Shirley the resident weaving instructor.  She explained how the looms worked and gave us a demonstration.  We also got a few stories about her mother’s aunt in Sweden who was also a weaver.  Shawn is ready to embark on a new weaving hobby…I’m just waiting for Amazon to deliver the loom.

While planning our trip, we were really excited about seeing the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Unfortunately, they are in the process of building a new visitors’ center, so we did not get a tour.  The tasting room, gift shop and creamery were open.  As you’ve read, we’ve experienced some pretty awesome cheese, so Tillamook was a bit of a letdown.  We actually left without buying anything…well, we did have a scoop of ice cream.

Steve the Dinosaur likes ice cream too

Our final stop was DeGarde Brewing.  They brew “wild” meaning they do not add laboratory produced yeast for fermentation. The wort is cooled naturally and takes in the Tillamook yeast and microflora from the air.  Then the beer is aged in oak barrels to finish the fermenting.  We tried some interesting brews, most of them being sours.  One actually had an aroma of cow poo (not my fav).  They had a 2-bottle limit on one of their new releases and numerous people approached us asking if we would buy them 2 bottles if we weren’t getting any.  The guy we ended up buying for invited us to his new Vietnamese street food truck opening in Portland next week.  He isn’t fully permitted yet, but he said he would make us a full lunch if we looked him up.

There was some construction on 101, so Google routed us through some beautiful farmland.  Lush green valleys backing up to hills of conifers.  Many of the barns have 8-foot square wooden quilt blocks on them.  This is a tradition started in the Midwest called the Quilt Barn Trail.  I looked up 10+ acre properties for sale on Zillow, and it turns out we will not be retiring in Tillamook County on our government pension.

Nehalem Bay State Park is on the ocean.  The spots are not quite as big as they were in South Beach, so it was a bit challenging parking the RV.  I was busy watching the trees on the side and missed the branch overhanging the space.  A bit of plastic on the top of the RV died today.  After seven days of sunshine, we are experiencing our first rain.  Woohoo, I get to wear my new raincoat tomorrow!

Daily Ratings & Stats

Pelican Brewing – 3 stars
Latimer Quilt & Textile Center – 4 stars
Tillamook Cheese Factory – 3 stars
DeGarde Brewing – 3 stars

Miles driven – 100 (in 7 hours)
Steps taken – 3,510

Day 6 – Oh, the Beaches…

Since we are staying two days at South Beach, we started the day with a long walk.  The trails around the park are very well groomed.  We walked along the interpretive trail learning about the local plants and trees then along the jetty leading into Newport.  We headed back along the grassy dunes to the beach.  The beaches in Oregon are so nice (also known as beautiful) with fine, brown sand.  There was very little wind today and the sun was shining.

We went into Newport for lunch and a bit of beer tasting at Rogue Brewery.  Shawn had the Kobe beef burger with blue cheese and I tempted fate and had the smoked cheddar mac & cheese.  While it was not as good as the world’s best Face Rock Creamery mac & cheese, it was darn tasty and went well with the beer samples.  Our favorite was the 10 Hop IPA.  We even bought a 32-ounce “Crowler” (freshly canned to order) to bring back to camp.

On the way back to camp, Shawn spotted a quilt shop.  He is getting really good at this!  Quilters Cove had a large selection of patterns for local lighthouses, covered bridges and Oregon places of interest.  I left with a Yaquina Lighthouse.  When I retire, I will make a travel quilt of all the items I’ve picked up in quilts shops in Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand, and now Oregon.

Back at camp, as I sit outside enjoying the weather and writing my blog, Tito the T-Rex guards the camp.  Other people have cute little carved wooden bears holding welcome signs outside their RVs, but we have a dinosaur.  (Shawn tells me Tito is a velociraptor but I’m going to pretend he is a T-Rex.)  People stop and notice a metal dinosaur.  Tito may come on all our future RV travels.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Rogue Brewery – 5 stars
Quilters Cove – 3.5 stars
Vacation Life – 5 stars

Miles driven – very few
Steps taken – 9,182 but the day is not over and there are more trails to explore

Day 5 – The Trifecta – Dinosaurs, Quilt Shops and Ice Cream

I feel so special today.  My husband is awesome.  He started the day by sneaking off from the campsite to shop for my Valentine’s gift.  Sure it’s a bit early, but they don’t charge sales tax in Oregon.  I am now the proud owner of a Stihl 18” chainsaw…but this is a story for another day.  We continued heading up the coast.  I had been told by some of my quilting students that there is a great little quilt shop in Port Orford.  I went to Quilters Corner while Shawn went to take pictures by the ocean and park the RV.  As I wandered around the shop, I overheard a woman talking about how terrible California is and why she had to leave.  It is lovely and all in some places but she lived in Fresno and the politics were just too much.  I got a good laugh, especially when I went to the counter to pay and mentioned I was born and raised in Fresno and all of my family still lives there.  It was a very nice shop, but she is selling it for $189,000 due to health problems.  Shawn didn’t buy me a quilt shop by the ocean, but wait there is more…

Remember yesterday when I said you can’t make sudden decisions and u-turns when pulling a fifth wheel?  Shawn proved me wrong multiple times today.  First, as we were driving through Bandon, he noticed a shop selling large metal dinosaurs.  I’ve been looking for one of these for years.  We looked in Sacramento, but they were over $2,000.  Shawn whipped into a parking lot and we went dinosaur shopping.  A metal T-Rex in Oregon is a fifth the cost of one in California.  Tito the T-Rex was duly purchased and strapped into the RV.  Steve the Dinosaur was a bit intimidated by Tito’s size, but I’m sure they will be friends soon.

Next door to the dinosaur store (really it was the Baja Imports store with more than prehistoric creatures, but it will always be the dinosaur store to me), there was Forget Me Knots quilt shop.  A cute little shop with a nice selection of quilt panels.  I picked up a panel for a counting book of turtles for my granddaughter who is due any week now.

And next door to the quilt shop you ask?  A cheese factory and ice cream shop.  Bandon, Oregon may be the perfect town.  We sampled a few cheeses at Face Rock Creamery including one we purchased called The Slayer.  Garlic and cheese goodness rolled into a single tasty block.  We ordered panini sandwiches which were good, but the hands-down winner was the side of smoked cheddar mac & cheese.  They advertised it as the world’s best, and I must admit it is the best I have ever had…and I’ve tried my share of mac & cheeses.  Somehow we saved a bit of room for the cranberry walnut cheesecake ice cream.   It is days like this I am thankful not to be lactose intolerant.

While driving, we have been listening to the audiobook Sourdough by Robin Sloan.  It is a funny story that takes place in San Francisco and is about a girl and a sourdough starter.  Needless to say, we had sourdough on our mind when Shawn spotted a sign on the highway for Sourdough Bakery 1 mile ahead.  Once again, Shawn whipped the RV into the tiny town of Salmon Harbor and we bought a loaf of sourdough.  All is right in the world today.

After that, it was a long but beautiful drive to South Beach State Park.  The highway alternated between inland views of forest and lakes and coastal views on the edge of the continent.  We crossed a number of historic bridges that are architectural beauties.  We have been so fortunate to have great, sunny weather.  South Beach is a big campground, but the sites are large and clean.  We met our neighbors on each side of our site. Art and Pam are from Idaho and recently retired.  They invited us over to try elk roast and a glass of St. Michelle Cabernet.  Shawn and Art compared RVs, trucks and gas mileage.  Then we went over to sit by the fire and visit with Mike and his wife from Willamette Valley.  They are also recently retired.  Shawn and Mike compared firearms and pig raising techniques.  If this is what people do when they retire, then sign me up!

Daily Ratings & Stats
Quilters Corner quilt shop – 4 stars
Baja Imports – 5 stars
Forget Me Knots quilt shop – 3 stars
Face Rock Creamery – turn is up to 11 stars (out of 5)
Sourdough Bakery – 3 stars (not very sour)
South Beach State Park – 5 stars
Friendly neighbors – 5 stars

Miles driven – 175+
Steps taken – 6,626

The QR Code Quilt

I was in a meeting the other day at work, and the subject was QR codes. I was asked to write technical guidelines on how to use them in business. As the meeting began, I pulled out my quilted covered notebook to take notes and one of my coworkers said: “you could make a QR code quilt.” We all had a good laugh, and the meeting commenced.

But the thought stuck in my mind. For years, I have been saving 2-inch squares of batik fabric. For some reason, I decided that if a scrap of batik was big enough to get one or more 2-inch squares, I’d keep it. I don’t do this with any other fabric, just batiks. These squares would be perfect for the QR code quilt, but what would happen when the QR code quilt is scanned? I decided to use my website address KristinLaura.com for the QR code. Using a QR code generator, I produced a 29×29 grid of squares…that comes out to 841 shares! No way am I going to piece together 841 2″ squares, but I remembered reading about watercolor quilts that use a fusible gridded interfacing. I will give that a try…

The notebook that inspired the quilt, the 2″ batik squares, and my QR code pattern

My Future Quilt Studio

For the past 10 or so years, I’ve done my quilting in my kitchen/dining room. It was great while the kids were growing up because I could be cooking dinner, helping with homework and getting in a bit of sewing. There is a great view of the swimming pool and the kitchen island is the perfect height for cutting and pressing. Storage is a bit lacking and it would be great to have a design wall, but I still managed to get projects done.

Now the kids are all grown and in college, and it looks like I will be getting a bedroom to call my own in the spring.

Stephanie's Bedroom
Stephanie’s bedroom – my future quilt studio. At least I know it will hold tons of stuff (in a chaotic fashion).

Since I have time to plan, I’ve started the quest for the perfect space. I’ve scoured the last few issues of Studios magazine and lots of books on organizing your space. At the moment, I’m leaning towards wire baskets for fabric storage. (I just visited Ikea for the first time last week…that experience is a whole other blog post.) I’m also thinking about a Koala cabinet for the studio. I have a smaller, thin sewing cabinet now, but I’m looking for extra space behind the machine so larger pieces don’t fall over the back edge.

I have lots of other grand plans, but then I open the door and remind myself that the room is only 10’x10′.  The fun part will be personalizing the space…it’s not all about function.