Friday, February 5, 2016

Snow In Washington DC

John and I planned to take a few days ahead of our scheduled leadership conference to do a little sight seeing for 3 days before so we flew to Washington DC on January 21.  Yes, I know that a large snowstorm was predicted over the weekend for the east coast but the airline tickets were purchased and besides a lot of times the weather people are wrong or mother nature changes her mind….not this time though.2016-01-21-17.17We arrived, unpacked and then went exploring.  The hotel was only about 4 blocks from the capitol so enjoyed our walk over to see it late afternoon that first day we arrived.  It is a beautiful building despite the scaffolding around the dome.  The dome getting a major restoration inside and out. 

The next day my niece gave us a tour of the inside.  She is working for a Nebraska senator and has been through it lots of times and given tours to other constituents so knew all the things to point out to show us.  Loved hearing the history and seeing the beautiful building.2016-01-22-09.03We were thrilled to also tour the White House.  We had to put in a application several months ahead of time with all the proper credentials and had to show those credentials at several security check points before allowed inside but it was worth it.  The photo above is the front hall as we area about to exit the White House.  I especially love this photo below I took from inside the White House looking at the Washington Monument.2016-01-22-08.46We did all this on Friday morning and so far no snow so everything was great.  My brother and wife (mom and dad to my Washington DC based niece) just happened to be in DC too.  They were vacationing and were staying closer to where my niece lived but we had met up to do the tours and eat lunch together that day.  After lunch we all took the Metro to Arlington Cemetery.  We knew government offices and all the Smithsonian museums were closing at 1:00 pm but since it was not snowing we headed off to the cemetery anyway.  There was a sign outside that said the visitor’s center was closed but the gates were open so we walked in.  Graves were still decorated with the wreaths laid on them at Christmas and it started to snow while we were there, very beautiful.  We didn’t get much of a chance to but glimpse at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder before we were asked to leave as the cemetery was closed.  Rather disappointing as it would have only taken us a few minutes to pay our respects, watch the guard and snap a few photos but we hiked back out without protest.2016-01-22-14.13We said goodbye to each other and took the Metro to our separate destinations.  The evening brought more snow but unlike Nebraska it fell straight down – no winds to drift it into hard mounds but a deep blanket of it was laid over the city.  The next morning (Sat.) everything was shut down in the city.  All government offices, all museums, the Metro, Amtrak and all airports were closed and not running, stores and a lot of restaurants were closed too and the city didn’t want people out driving either.  The snow was maybe about 8-10” deep at this point so after breakfast we bundled up to hike down to the Capitol and National Mall.  What else was there to do?2016-01-23-11.39We had such a good time and it really wasn’t so cold that we got chilled so we walked around for 2 hours or more both Saturday and Sunday.  The streets were deserted so everyone was walking right down the middle of 4 and 6 lanes that are normally very busy streets next to all the government buildings.  It was so quiet and so surreal feeling. There were lots of other people out walking and hauling sleds to the east side of the capitol where kids of all ages were having fun sledding down the hill. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us so we took advantage of it and got out of the hotel and saw DC at a standstill.2016-01-23-10.52I won’t bore you with a lot more photos of the snow storm in Washington DC but do want to show this last one.  It was taken near where my niece lives and was taken on Monday after more snow fell on Saturday bringing the totals in DC to 18”-24”, mostly straight down so was rather deep to walk through where streets and walks were not cleaned.  Some kind soul ran their snow blower down the middle of the street so people could have a clear place to walk if they wanted. 2016-01-25-16.11Needless to say, but our conference was canceled and there was no way we could change our flights so were in DC for the originally planned duration.  The Metro opened up partially on Monday so met my family members that came in for lunch at a great German restaurant a few blocks from Union Station then ventured out on the Metro to where they were all living or staying.  We had a great time and so glad we are able to walk comfortably as that is what we did from the Metro station to the accommodations of my niece and brother, to the great Pizza restaurant then back to the Metro then back to the hotel once we got back to Union Station.  Walk, walk, walk – if I lived here I would be in great shape for sure!

The trip was not a total loss as we were able to see one senator to present our concerns on some farm related issues and saw staff of the other two.  This was part of our assignment for the leadership conference and the appointments were already made so went ahead and kept them.  Photo below is of Senator Deb Fischer and us at her office after our visit with her.2016-01-26-17.12Since so many of the museums were closed we did more walking and looking at the buildings from the outside than inside.  Did get a chance to visit 2 on Tuesday and one Wednesday morning before we had to get to the airport.  That was disappointing as we had planned to visit more of the museums this trip but guess it will have to wait for another time.

Felt good to get home after a week away and get back to normal around the farm.  I have said it before I am sure; I love to visit cities and see areas away from here but I love getting back to the quiet of our rural home in Nebraska.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

More Fabric Travel Trays

As promised here are the photos of the other fabric trays I made for Christmas gifts this past December.  Check the previous post for complete directions.IMG_7063
It was fun to choose the fabrics for each person as I tried to pick fabrics that I thought they would like and fit their personalities.  I loved them all - the bright and the pastel ones!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fabric Travel Tray Tutorial

When traveling and staying at a hotel I always try to place my key, phone and jewelry in a secure area where it won’t get knocked off and lost on the floor or behind the furniture.  It is always a worry that something will fall behind the furniture so I am always double checking that I have everything from the night before.2016-01-20-09.11.00My sister Jeannine solved that problem by giving me this very practical and useful travel tray, plus it is pretty too.  It is basically a quilted, rounded off square with Velcro in the corners to make it close up to make a shallow tray.  When I am ready to head home I pull the Velcro apart on the corners to make it lie flat again and slip it into my suitcase.  2016-01-20-09.09I decided to make these for my friends, daughters and granddaughters for Christmas.  (when my grandson’s get older I will make them each one to pack but right now at ages 10 and 13 they are a bit young and wouldn’t know what to do with them.)IMG_7048I cut 2 squares at 9 1/2” and one piece of thinner batting about 10 1/2”square.  I chose prints for the outside fabric and a lighter more solid fabric for the inside of the tray.  Left over pieces of batting work great for this project.IMG_7050Round off the corners for ease of construction.  You can use a template, old CD or DVD or any other round object to trace around on the wrong side of the lighter fabric to round it off.  Mark all 4 corners.IMG_7051Layer the two pieces of fabric right sides together then place the fabric on the batting and pin to secure.  As you can see the batting peeks out around the two fabrics.  Easy to stitch so you don’t have to worry about it creeping away from the seam lines when stitching.IMG_7052Stitch 1/4” around the rounded square leaving an opening on one side.  Back stitch at the beginning and the end.  Trim the excess batting away from the seam line leaving just a bit caught in the stitching line.  This will eliminate some of the bulk at the seams.IMG_7053Turn it right side out and use your finger or blunted object to push out the corners.  Press flat keeping the seam line on the edge of the square.  Turn under the fabric at the opening and press then pin the opening closed.  Top stitch around the entire edge pretty close so it catches the area you left open for turning.IMG_7054Mark a line 2” across each side with something that can be removed or not show after stitching.  Stitch on those markings and also a diagonal line in to the 2” lines  from each corner like the example below.IMG_7055At this point you don’t really have to do any more stitching if you don’t want to but I like to machine quilt the entire piece to make it more dense and a little stiffer.  Cut Velcro pieces about 3/4” long and stitch the small pairs of Velcro to each corner.  (Tip – make sure you have one loopy side and one hooky side for each corner!) IMG_7056As you can see the outside (below) is a blue print and quite busy but the inside (above) is a light color so items placed in it will show up.  A busy print for the inside would make it hard to see small items placed in the tray – keep inside light and more solid looking.IMG_7057This is what it looks like with the Velcro corners pinched together and with some jewelry inside.IMG_7059These are very quick to make and wonderful gifts to give to friends and family.IMG_7060Check the next post for more photos of all the finished travel trays I made for Christmas gifts. 

Until Later,

Friday, January 15, 2016

Majestic Bird–Bald Eagle

We feel so very lucky to live in an area that has bald eagles sightings, especially in the winter time.IMG_6902One lucky day mid December my husband called as he was on his way to help a neighbor move his cows to another stock field.  He excitedly told me he had seen a couple of bald eagles about a quarter of a mile from our house.  I was rushing to get dressed to go see them when the phone rang again.  (Have to admit I was still in my nightgown but had also put on a sweat shirt and sweat pants to pad around the house that morning.)IMG_6905My neighbor asked if I was home and to go outside and look in the tree on the north side of the house as a bald eagle just landed in it.  Grabbed my camera and went out the front door and sure enough there it was. (By the way I was dressed by this time.) This was a mature eagle and it sat there for quite sometime as I clicked away with my camera but eventually had enough of the paparazzi and flew away.  I am thinking it was one of the two John saw earlier.IMG_6920
Later that morning I had to run to town to get groceries and noticed two large shapes (eagles of course) across the road from our house in the field.  They don’t look that big when you see them from farther away but they are huge birds.  There was one adult and one juvenile, probably the same adult that was in our tree earlier and the pair John saw too.
Here are some zoomed and cropped photos of those two birds.  I think there were several more bald eagles in the area that day too as John said they spotted several more that morning.  The migrating geese were flying overhead quite a bit that day and we do know they follow them at least partway to their winter quarter and pick off the weak and dying.  Whenever the geese migrate we are more apt to see more bald eagles then too.  The next day we didn’t see any or few geese and no bald eagles either.

We do have one or two resident bald eagles in the area all winter long though.  I see one almost every time I cross our river sitting on a dead tree that has partially fallen into the water.  No matter how often we see them them it is still a thrill.

Until Later
PS - here is a webpage with bald eagle facts and information about the mighty birds.


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