Category Archives: Away From Home

Road Trip!

This past weekend we headed up to Brimfield, MA for the big vintage textile show and the giant antique/flea market. We were looking for adventure and that’s what we got, from sitting in traffic at the GWB, to eating the world’s most delicious french fries, to wandering around the flea market wondering why antiques dealers are always the scariest people on Earth. We came home with a car full of treasures (fabric, notions, mint-condition Pyrex bowls, a Breyer horse for Boomer, and a metal peacock [of course]) and cameras bursting with pictures from Old Sturbridge Village and Brimfield. Here are just a few of the things we saw; you can view the whole set here.

May 9 2011

May 10 2011


Filed under Away From Home

A Very Dallas Vacation Recap: Day 4

So, back to our Dallas vacation recaps! After our visit to the State Fair, we let our cameras cool off with a couple of lower-key photography days. We headed out to McKinney to do some hard-core quilt shopping one day (Patty is the world’s most patient hostess. We spent FOREVER in the AWESOME quilt shops there), then spent the next day sampling biscuits and gravy at Bubba’s, doing some furniture shopping, visiting the Mustang fountain in Irving, then partaking of the stunning cocktails and desserts at La Duni restaurant back in Dallas. Of course, “cooling off” doesn’t mean our cameras were getting the days off entirely

October 18 2010

If you are ever in McKinney, go to Spoons cafe and get the chocolate cake. Seriously. It looks like a regular old cake, sure, but seriously — this is the best. cake. ever.

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy, by Pookie

B/W Mustangs

Black-and-white lensbaby Mustangs, by Pookie


Curious Mustang, by Pookie


Galloping, by Schnookie

October 19 2010

Schnookie, by Pookie


Hooves, by Schnookie

Iron Hooves

Iron hooves, by Pookie

Horse Face

This is your leader’s nose, by Schnookie

La Duni Chupito

La Duni Chupito, by Schnookie

Extravagant Drink

La Duni Shaken Mariana, by Pookie

Lemon 43

La Duni Lemon 43, by Schnookie


Filed under Away From Home, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Quilt Shopping Halfway Around The World

Not long after we decided to go to the Netherlands to visit KtG, there was a quilt featured on the cover of “Quiltmania” that took my breath away. It was a stunning kaleidoscope quilt in rich and vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. The pattern said it was called “Queen’s Day Quilt” in honor of the Dutch holiday. “No way,” I thought, “I’m going to the Netherlands! What a coincidence!” Then I noticed the fine print at the end of the pattern: “Quilt kits available from Den Haan and Wagenmakers in Amsterdam.” “No way,” I thought, “I’m going to Amsterdam! It can’t be a coincidence! It must be fate!”

And fate it was, Gentle Reader! Delicious, delicious fabric-y fate.

Our last day of vacation was spent in Amsterdam, hanging out with the one and only Mags. Because Mags is such a dear friend and all-around cool person, she agreed to be dragged off to a quilt store even though she’s a knitter (she returned the favor by pointing out that her favorite yarn store was right around the corner, which meant we got to follow up the fabric shopping with some giddy discussions of which new Rowan patterns she should knit). It was probably good we had a non-quilter in tow because we probably would have just stayed forever if given the chance. You see, Den Haan and Wagenmakers isn’t just a quilt store — it’s a quilt store specializing in Dutch chintzes.

Dutch Chintzes in Yellow

Imagine being surrounded by those gorgeous colors and those sumptuous prints! The store was tiny but filled to the brim with absolutely stunning store models and bolts and bolts and bolts of these fabulous chintzes. It was incredibly overwhelming so it was a good thing the shop also stocks kits. Lots and lots of kits.

Kits like “Queen’s Day”:

Queen's Day Quilt Kit

Isn’t it gorgeous? I loved the pattern based on the “Quiltmania” photos, but I had no idea the fabrics were so fabulous. The colors really don’t convey at all. And the fabrics themselves have a totally different feel than the quilter’s cotton I’m used to; they’re almost like a coated cotton, but really soft. The plaids in particular are unbelievably soft; most of the shop models were backed in the plaid and after buying the kits, Schnookie and I both began plotting to order some of the plaids as soon as we got home. Only, when we got home and I unpacked the kit, I discovered a big piece of plaid was already included for the backing! I’m telling you, I was fated to buy this quilt kit!

I also picked up a kit for “Hindeloopen”. That one wasn’t as much fated to be because I neglected to pick up a box that included the pattern. Oops. But it does include some really awesome border fabric:

Border Fabric

There were a lot of prints that were either border fabrics like this one, or prints like American Jane’s four-in-ones, where there were big blocks of three or four prints on the same bolt that were complimentary but in different scales. (I also love the handwriting on the selvage. If I were one of those cool kids who makes string quilts out of selvages, this would be quite the score! Since I’m not, I’ll merely admire it from afar.)

Schnookie also picked up a chintz kit of sorts:

July 24 2010

The box in the store had a picture of a really cool log cabin made out of teensy tiny cuts of the chintzes, but the box itself was just a box of fabrics. They look to be about fat eighth-ish size (the bolts are 54″ or something nutty and European like that) and the possibilities of what they could be turned into are endless! Schnookie’s come up with tons of ideas, but the one I’m pulling for is tiny sawtooth stars. (Also, the picture of the log cabin could be used for inspiration for a future project, but for some bizarre reason Rollie has decided it’s her souvenir from overseas; she curls up in a tiny ball which as little of her hanging over the edge of the paper as possible and sleeps for hours on this increasingly crumbled piece of paper. Go figure.)

The store wasn’t just chintzes, though. There was a second story that was mostly Moda fabrics we can find here in the states. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t non-chintz fun to be had. Schnookie found a kit that uses traditional American prints to make really cool foundation-pieced stars:

Stars Quilt Kit

We also picked up a packet of what feels like upholstery fabric, figuring we’d never find something like this at home:

Upholstery Fabric

And because we’d come all the way from America, the shop owner gave us each a free fat quarter!

Free Fat Quarters are the Best Fat Quarters

We figured we had to get an orange one in honor of the World Cup madness, and the brown was too lovely to pass up.

If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, do check out Den Haan and Wagenmakers. You won’t be disappointed. (Now if only I could get my hands on that missing pattern…)

Four Den Haan Kits

{Posted by Pookie}


Filed under Away From Home, Pins and Needles, Quilting

Wherein We Travel Far Afield For A Weeklong Photo Excursion

After an extremely lazy and self-indulgent recovery period from overseas travel, we think we might just be ready to put a post together about our recent trip to the Netherlands. That’s right — gather the children around and get comfortable in your seats: it’s vacation slideshow time!

We started our trip on the hottest day of the year, and much to our delight, Philadelphia Airport was in full “we are making frequent announcements that we’re being all green and shit, so you can’t complain that the air conditioning isn’t on” mode. But despite the swelteringness, we kicked off our vacation with an impromptu photoshoot, in which we tried to do “surprised” the way Tyra coaches girls to.

July 7 2010

Oooh. Fierce.

Our basis for vacationing in the Netherlands is our sister Kate the Great. KtG has been living in Scheveningen, right on the beach, and after a few years of resisting, we finally had to admit that it’s not often that life gives you the opportunity to vacation in Europe without having to pay for a hotel. As it turns out, KtG is a fantastic hostess, and we probably should have done this years ago! With very little input from us, KtG put together a jam-packed, endlessly fun, super-photogenic itinerary for us, with plenty of sight-seeing, beer-drinking, and World Cup spirit-soaking to go around.

July 8 2010

Did we mention we were there during the World Cup final? The entire country seemed to be bedecked in orange during our visit; despite their flamboyant show of team spirit, though, Dutch soccer fans come up way short in arrogance and swagger. They could totally learn a lot from Philly and New York sports fans.

Our tour included sightseeing, museum-going, and cafe-sitting in The Hague, including visits to the charming Mauritshaus (a fantastic intimate setting for some serious masterpiece paintings) and the shockingly delightful Panorama (where they didn’t let us take pictures. Assholes).

World Cup Bunting


Postcard View

Our biggest outing of the vacation was a visit to the Cheese Market at Alkmaar (required viewing for tourists) and the Zuiderzee Museum (a living history museum that made us think it would be like our childhood field trip destination, Old Bethpage Village). It happened that day to be the hottest of our vacation, with temperatures in the 90s, and Pookie discovered the hard way that she is virulently allergic to something that grows near Alkmaar and the Zuiderzee Museum. But despite the sweltering heat, Pookie’s eyes burning with the pain of a thousand spike-filled fires, and our post-airplane dehydration, it was a ton of fun.

July 9 2010

Alkmaar is an utterly charming town, and well worth the visit to see the city. Just don’t necessarily go there just to see the Cheese Market. Now that you’ve seen this picture, you’ve seen the Cheese Market.

Lensbaby Alkmaar

Weighing House

Cheese Girl

Zuiderzee Museum Houses

The Zuiderzee Museum didn’t have quite as much “living history” as we were expecting (although maybe we’d had more than our share in the Cheese Market…), but it was indescribably charming.

Laundry Drying


An Exotic Creature

Perhaps our most special outing was to Haarlem, where KtG’s friend Emily gave us a walking tour of the hofjes (almshouse gardens) all over town, and we visited the Teylers Museum.

Awesome Shutters

The hofjes were these perfect little gems — courtyard gardens surrounded by the historic tiny almshouses that are still in use today as low-income housing for single women.

Hofje Bike

Laundry in the Hofje

Teylers Library

The Teylers Museum is essentially a museum of museuming. It’s a magnificent, ornate, rambling townhouse filled to the brim with exhibits of ye olde sciencey equipment and whatnot. Basically, a person could take pictures there for days.

Hypnosis Wheel


Telyer ABC

Not every day was full to the brim with walking in the sweltering heat, though. We had a deliciously restful World Cup Final Sunday in Delft, where we photographed the shit out of the Oude Kerk and Stadhuis and enjoyed the finest fries any cafe anywhere has ever had to offer.


Delft Stadhuis

This trip was when Pookie became a Lensbaby virtuoso, and also where we discovered that it has a tendency to make its subjects look like little toy versions of themselves.

Delft Canal

The single coolest thing we saw during our week abroad was the Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer, or the Flower Auction in Aalsmeer. Every day, apparently something like 90% of the cut flowers in the world are sold at this auction, and they have the facility set up for visitors to be able to watch the entire process. It is utterly, wholly staggering, and one of the most awesome places we’ve ever been.

Flowers Flowers Everywhere

Flower Auction Truck

Hot Auction Action

Pink Roses, Gray Steel

The true capper for a completely extraordinary week was our last day, in Amsterdam. We finally got to meet our dear friend Mags in person, and after a great canal tour (replete with Hup Holland Hup debris from the previous day’s “victory” parade) and lackluster trip to the truncated Rijksmuseum, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around the beautiful city, sitting in charming cafes, and handcraft shopping (Den Haan & Wagenmakers is a quilt shop well worth the trip to the Netherlands all on its own). Then Mags raced off in the suddenly cold rain to get on the train to her parents’ for dinner, and we found our way to the most delicious, beautiful, perfect Indonesian restaurant of all time.

July 14 2010

Sometimes it’s not the best pictures that have the best memories attached to them.

It was not easy to cull our photo collection down even to this unwieldy amount; if you want to bask in the awesomeness that is our zillions of shots of flowers, charming townhouses, orange bunting, and cheese, the complete set is here. Meanwhile, we’re counting our vacation days and sizing up our travel budget to figure out how soon we can visit KtG there again.


Filed under Away From Home

Wherein We Feel The Need… The Need For Cheese

Whew! What an exhausting week! We’ve been meaning for the last six days to write a post about our marvelous trip into New York City with Kristin, but every evening we’d get home from work and just collapse in senseless heaps on the couch. It’s been rough, and strange, because we can’t figure out why we feel so pooped. I guess it must be that our lazy summer has well and truly ended. If that really is the case, at least we got to send it off in festive fashion, with a photo excursion to Grand Central Station and a long, delicious lunch at Artisanal Bistro.

Lunch At Atisanal September 2008

Our day started at the crack of dawn, as we caught a just-after-10:00-a.m. train into the city, along with everyone else in Central NJ. Seriously, we had to STAND the entire way from Princeton Junction to Penn Station. This made no sense to us, but we managed to keep our complaining to a minimum, and arrived in NYC in one piece.

We had no real plan for what to take pictures of until we got to street level and noticed the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building with Bird

Awesome NYC landmarks! That’s what we’d take pictures of!

And so we wandered slowly to Park Avenue, soaking in the atmosphere of an insanely muggy day in the city, taking snapshots, talking cameras in the manner of three people who don’t really know what they’re talking about, and giddily anticipating cheese. When we arrived at Artisanal, we were greeted by a group of protesters who were trying to impress upon our decency as human beings that this restaurant we were about to enter serves “sweatshop fish”. Which… um… okay? We’re sure that’s a serious problem, and if we ate fish, we’d think twice about ordering at the cheese bistro, but other than that, the event most notably prompted Kristin to say, after we navigated our way through the angry gathering outside Artisanal, “I didn’t realize we were eating at an abortion clinic today.” Heh.

Despite the inhumane working conditions for the fish and/or fish workers producing Artisanal’s seafood, our meal was a total delight. We went for wine/beer and cheese flights, which turned out to be smaller than we anticipated, so we followed that course with the most exquisite grilled cheese sandwich made with taleggio (and a less exquisite one made with cheddar, apples and bacon — it would have been better without the apples), and then had extravagantly, outrageously scrumptious desserts (a chocolate/hazelnut masterpiece topped with vanilla salt, and a hugely boozy baba au rhum). Three hours after we arrived, we hit the road again, slightly tipsy and fully sated, and it seemed the fish sweatshop crisis had passed, because the protesters were gone.

We decided we should spend some time walking a few blocks up Park Avenue to visit Grand Central Station for photo ops. It was at this point that Kristin broke out the TTV devices, letting Pookie get her first taste of it.

TTV Pookie

TTVing is not something that comes naturally, but Pookie was getting the hang of it by the time we got to Grand Central.

Facade of Grand Central

We proceeded to spend ages inside the station, taking bazillions of the same pictures over and over again. But what can we say? We just loved those chandeliers.

Ball of Lightbulbs

Christmas Ball

Light Fixture and Marble

If you want to see the best of the 300+ shots we took, the collection is here, and Kristin’s pictures are here.

We followed our chandelier photo shoot with a desperate attempt to get burritos at Burritoville, but it was closed by the time we finally got over there.

September 13 2008

Sadly, it seems that might have been our last chance for Burritoville. Poor, poor Pookie.

We walked dejectedly back to Penn Station from the abandoned Burritoville, and, sweaty from the humidity, feet aching from the walking, cameras resting from a hard day’s workout, we got back on the train home. Thank god there were enough seats for us, because we struggled to stay awake on the ride home. As soon as we were settled back at Maple Hoo, pajamaed and munching on Hot Pockets on our couch, we started emailing with Kristin to find the next date we can field trip into the City. What a delightful day! (And yeah, shirtless guy at Penn Station, I said “delightful”. You can just suck it.)


Filed under Away From Home, Dining Out, Fancy Dessert, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Worth Selling Your Soul For

Restocking The Stash: On The Road With IPB Living, Chapter 4

Today was the big day — time to do a full-day, deep immersion trip to The Attic. We started things off with a side trip to this lovely, wee desert garden in North Scottsdale (as documented here), then made a quick stop at AJ’s, our old favorite grocery store, for some goodies to bring to Jean, Sandy and Deborah at The Attic.

Okay, that’s a total lie. We were using Jean, Sandy and Deborah as an excuse to get our hands on some of AJ’s cheesecake brownies; we used to get these every Friday to go with our traditional DiGiorno dinners, as a reward for surviving another crappy week in our crappy jobs. The brownies were every bit as good as we remembered, too. An added plus was that we got to drive past our old workplace on the way, where we pointed and chorused a lusty round of Nelson Muntz “Ha ha!”s at the poor souls stuck working there now.

Apparently when Boomer was just out of college and working in her first job, her stepfather, the immortal Cowboy Red, would tell her every time she brought home a certificate for completing training courses that it was something to put in her “Girl Graduate Book”. When we suggested we were going to take a picture of the old workstead, she cracked that it would go in our Girl Graduate Books. So… consider it done.

Along the drive down to Mesa, we got a nice look at Camelback Mountain again, in its full camel-y splendor.

The most exciting landmark on Camelback for little kids visiting their grandparents (and for the adults they grow up to be) is the Praying Monk, a rock formation that looks like, well, a praying monk. The name really does kind of say it all. (There is also a formation that looks just like Lincoln’s face, but you have to be on the other side of the mountain to see it.)

Okay, so sightseeing done, we descended upon The Attic at about 10 a.m.. We didn’t leave until 3:00 p.m.. Yeah, that’s right — five hours of stitching shopping. It was heavenly. So what goes on during all that time? Excellent question.

First, there’s the thread pulling. Most of the projects we buy aren’t kitted up, so we start with the chart, and then have to pull all the threads from Jean’s vast array of options. There’s DMC cotton, Needlepoint Inc silk, Gentle Arts and Weeks Dye Works overdyed cotton, Belle Soie overdyed silk, among many other options, and the old standby for every silk snob like us — Au Ver Au Soie.

Oftentimes the chart we’re looking at will be charted in a fiber we don’t want to use, so that’s when you break out the conversion chart.

Today Pookie was looking at a chart written for cotton, which is stitched with two plies, but she wanted to work it in silk, which is only stitched with one ply. That’s not normally a problem, but in this case, the chart called for blending two colors by working with one ply of each. This left Pookie with the task of choosing a substitute color to work in the combination’s place.

Here’s a green and a brown that were supposed to be worked together:

Here are the options she was considering:

And here, on the left, is the one she picked:

Fun, no? The more creative you get with a chart, and the more substitutions and color swaps you work in, the messier the chart itself ends up looking. Here’s a peek at Pookie’s tracking of the color changes she was planning:

Meanwhile, Schnookie was planning how to convert various and sundry charts from DMC or Needlepoint Inc into Elizabeth Bradley wools, for working on canvas.

Once the threads are all settled on for a project, the next step is to choose a linen. This is a very delicate step — the linen can make or break a project. This one, for a little Halloween piece, doesn’t do anything for us:

But this one? Is perfect:

Different materials and different palettes give all kinds of opportunities for different colors, counts, and “vintage” hand-dyed looks on the linens.

As we worked, our pile of supplies kept growing.

So, with plenty of time for chatting with the delightful ladies of The Attic, and a nice leisurely lunch, five hours spent at the shop translated into seven projects pulled by Pookie and eight by Boomer. It was especially fun to be there today, because it was open by appointment just for us — we had the whole shop to ourselves. For all that we’ve spent months looking forward to this trip, it amazingly exceeded all our expectations.

When we had finally exhausted ourselves completely, it was time to check out. Boomer was rung up first:

And then it was Pookie’s turn:

The final tally for a once-every-two-years restocking trip was, um, tens of dollars. Tens and tens. The whole pile looked pretty modest when it was bagged up…

… but spread out, it’s a pretty impressive haul. Here’s Boomer’s pile:

And here’s Pookie’s:

Not too shabby!

We headed back to the hotel after shopping and collapsed into a restful afternoon of stitching before heading back out to dinner. Our target tonight was Fashion Square Mall, where we wanted to do a little regular-person shopping and have a meal at Z Tejas. It’s hardly the world’s greatest restaurant, but it was our go-to “lazy weeknight” place to eat out when we lived here, and we love, love, love the Chambord margaritas. Dinner was predictably good, and left us feeling delightfully like we had to go back to work tomorrow morning. Heh. It’s always nice to get a reminder of how good life is by momentarily thinking that we’re still stuck in our crappy Arizona-life jobs. After we ate, we strolled the mall and Pookie found a kick-ass pair of sunglasses while Schnookie stumbled on the new purse she didn’t realize she was dreaming of. What could be better?

Storm clouds had covered this part of the valley while we were at the mall, so we drove home in the rain, then enjoyed one last night of stitching in our hotel, listening to the thunder outside. We’ll have to be up and at ’em in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, though, to catch our early, early, early flight home. All in all, this has been a marvelous vacation — good times, good company, great stash restocking. It just doesn’t get better than that.


Filed under Away From Home, Bonanza!, On The Road, Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling, Stitching

Restocking The Stash: On The Road With IPB Living, Chapter 3

We took a little detour on our stitching vacation this morning, because we’ve recently made a resolution to be more adventurous. Many years ago, when we were in grade school, a teacher from our school and his family participated in an exchange where he went to live and teach in Hawaii, and the teacher from Hawaii brought his family to Princeton to take his place. The family from Hawaii, the Colefleshes, were total go-getters. For their year in New Jersey, they made a point of going to see and do everything. No matter how ridiculous the art fair, or folk festival, or local museum, or living history demonstration, or parade, or public concert, they were there. They grabbed life by the horns, in as dorky a way as humanly possible. And now we’ve decided we should do that too. We want to be more like the Colefleshes. So in that spirit, we decided to spend a few minutes this morning at a little desert garden/park thing that was installed in an empty lot next to a senior center in our neighborhood about a year before we moved away. We had been intrigued by it back then, but too lazy to bother checking it out. Well, we didn’t fly 2500 miles this week to NOT go look at it, did we?

It’s a tiny little park, and it’s got essentially a manufactured “natural” landscape thing going on inside it.

Even in such a tiny space, we saw some fun desert wildlife. There was a lizard…

… bees in a cactus flower…

… and, among a lot of more boring birds, a bevy of quails.

There were dozens of the quails, but they were, for the most part, elusive prey. They all huddled under a sprawling, shrubby palo verde and made that sound of theirs that is best described as sounding like balloons rubbing together squeakily.

The park was very charmingly laid out, with a spiraling path designed to look like a rattlesnake.

At the center of the path, there was a giant rattlesnake head and tail.

And near the entrance to the park, hidden among the brush, was a sculpture of a bat drinking nectar from a saguaro.

Around the base of the sculpture was a story about a bat whose sonar failed him so he was essentially blind. He cried that he would never be able to find nectar to eat, and was reassured by the voice of a snake nearby. The snake told him he would guide him to food, so the bat started flying…

What a wonderful little park! We’re so glad we took 20 minutes out of our way to check it out. So far, in our newer, better, more Colefleshier life, things are going swimmingly!


Filed under Away From Home, On The Road, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words