A Nice Place to Land

Travel is a very real part of my life, and I imagine and hope that it always will be.  Most recently I was back and forth from home in various stints over a stretch of a month and a half.  I will be home for about that long, and then gone again soon.  Then repeat.  Sometimes I travel for fun, like the trips we take twice a year to celebrate our marriage.  Or family reunion.  Or trips with our kids and their families.  Or the occasional quilt retreat that has no work attachments involved.  But while I don’t always travel with fun as the main purpose, it still is always fun.  Like visiting family, especially our kids and grandkids.  Or going to Quilt Market, if or when I go.  Or quilt retreats with work at least partly in mind, although sometimes work is the sole purpose.

For instance, the recent retreat The Green Apricot hosted in Crossville, TN.  I had a great time, and I loved being a hostess and cooking and hanging out and having a good time with friends.  On Thursday when it ended, it was good to see smiling faces packing up cars and heading back home again.  I, on the other hand, was not headed home.  Our granddaughter was having a birthday party in TN on Saturday, so rather than head south to Atlanta and then back up to Nashville the next day, I decided to hang around a bit and take it easy between retreat and birthday party.

As many of you know, I am a bit obsessed with donuts.  One time my husband looked at me and basically said, “If you’ve eaten one donut, you’ve eaten them all.”  I just stared at him.  The donut thing has been real my whole life, although I have hated Krispy Kreme for many years.  Mostly because my dad would get them on road trips, and inevitably I would get car sick, and well, the rest is history.  (As a note, I tried them again a couple of years ago, and I really do still hate them.)  The obsession, however, has really taken flight in the last couple of years because, well, donuts, and I love the idea that an easy way to shop local when traveling is to find a donut shop.  So, I try to look for donut shops whenever I am on the road.  This time I found Ralph’s Donuts in Cookeville, TN.  They’ve been there since 1962, and are located in a fun part of town with boutique shopping and eateries.  It was way off of my charted course from Crossville to Nashville, but totally worth it.  When I asked what was the one donut I had to order I got an immediate answer of, “Butter Twist.”  So, Butter Twist it was, and I was pleased.  I usually get two donuts at places like these.  A standard that I can compare with other donut shops, and their specialty.  But I had just returned from quilt retreat full of Oreos and Peanut M&Ms, so restraint was called for.  However, if I ever get to go back…

img_8067.png

Since I wasn’t in a big hurry, and I didn’t have the husband in tow, I thought I might check out Craft South in Nashville.  I’ve met Anna Maria Horner a couple of times, including once in a restaurant bathroom during Quilt Market, but that’s another story.  I’m kinda a big fan, and I love her work and her style, so I was looking forward to her shop.  However, it turned out that I might have actually been able to go into the store if Jeff had been with me.  I followed Sybil’s directions and found Craft South in a super trendy, fun neighborhood not too far from Vanderbilt’s campus.  But, all that fun and trend has a tendency to equal no parking.  After circling a neighborhood crawling with both construction and hipsters three times with no luck for parking, I bailed and headed to my evening destination.  Thompson’s Station, and Suzy Homemaker.

img_7928.jpg

Who exactly provides a snack bar in their guest room?  Who exactly puts together the perfect dinner because she knows what her guest needs?  Who exactly can cut through the crap and get to the real story with everything from politics to quilt shops?

Suzy Homemaker, of course.  No, that’s not totally her real name, but she is Suzy.  I met her a few years ago as she is Chris Warnick’s right-hand woman in putting on The Stash Bash, and have enjoyed her friendship ever since.  I messaged her a couple of weeks before I was going to be in Nashville to see if I could visit her and crash at her place for a night.  I knew it would be a treat to get to visit with her and her husband, but had no idea just how perfect of a place it was for me to land.

I had a great time at the quilt retreat in Crossville, and very much loved being a hostess for such an event.  But when it was over, I truly was exhausted.  It wasn’t until I settled in at Suzy’s that I realized how overstimulated I felt, and kind of wired.

Suzy keeps a lovely home, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  So much of it is in the details.  Everything from the soap to the bed that I could barely convince myself to get out of the next morning.  Everywhere I turned there was something to look at and think about, but not in an excessively analytical way or in a trendy, copycat kind of way.  More like a “Huh- that’s cool-  I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it works perfectly” kind of way.

img_7930

She has such a great mix of wood and metal and white and black in her home, and just seems to highlight all the right things in all the right places.  Suzy and her husband are also in the race car industry, and there were hints of it throughout the house, but without being brash and kitschy.  It felt like Nashville, but it also felt like a canvas for conversation.

It was just what I needed- to be hosted for a day after hosting for a few.  We chatted into the night, and picked up again in the morning.  And of course, we had to get a donut, and head to a quilt shop.  This time there was plenty of parking.

StitchersGardenfront

I stole these photos from the internet.  I am admitting it openly.  I’d like to give credit, but honestly, I’m not sure to whom I should give it!  At any rate, Suzy promised I would love Stitcher’s Garden, and she was not wrong.  Not by a longshot.  This place was packed.  I mean packed.  In every good way.  We have a shop in Georgia similar to it called Thread Bear Fabrics.  Both of the these shops have a crazy, serious selection.  You want traditional?  You got it.  You want modern?  You got it.  You want fat quarters?  You got more than you can imagine.  I had a fabulous time sifting through and making plans, and even remembering projects gone by.  I showed a bit of restraint, as I already have plenty and enough, but I did get a couple of things with purpose, and a couple without.

We literally shopped until the last moment.  Jeff flew in that afternoon, and I needed to navigate through Nashville traffic to pick him up at the airport.  It was good to see his face.  I enjoy my adventures, and I feel that I am fairly independent, but I miss him terribly when we are apart.

img_7933.jpg

Jeff and I go to Nashville from time to time as two of our daughters and their families live there.  We have a favorite place to stop and eat- Coco’s Italian Market and Restaurant.  My favorite appetizer is the bruschetta, pictured above.  I’d like to deconstruct it and try to make it at home, but I’m afraid I’d never get the bread quite right, and that I’d gain a couple hundred pounds!

img_7934.jpg

Speaking of low-cal Italian treats, we also never miss a chance to share a piece of Chocolate Eruption cheesecake.  We are kind of known for taking it to go with the intent of eating it a little later, but it never makes it more than a mile or so down the road.

img_7960.jpg

The next day we headed to our daughter’s house to spend the day celebrating our granddaughter’s birthday.  It was such a nice day with family, and I am so grateful that we were able to be there.  I feel very grateful for all of the travels, even the ones that can be somewhat stressful, but I am especially grateful for the travels that take me places like this one.  Some things matter, some things don’t.  Some things last, some things won’t.

 

The Getaway Gang

The Green Apricot hosted two retreats in 2017.  One coincided with QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, and planning for it began two years ago.  The other was just simply a getaway to take a breather at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  This one was a little more last minute, and while based a great deal on the fun time we had at Tybee Island in February, it was intended to be more low-key and have better accommodations.

img_7988

The Fall 2017 edition of  #thegreenapricotgetaway was located at a resort in Crossville, TN called Fairfield Glade.  I think you could call it a mixed-use property, as it is part resort and part community.  There are people who live there full time, but there are also a number of condominiums, and amenities ranging from golf courses to walking trails, from horseback riding to swimming, from medical facilities to a spa.  It’s located just off of I-40 about an hour west of Knoxville, and while the property is huge, I was surprised that not many seem to know about it.  It is not explicitly a retirement community, but it is definitely retirement friendly.

So, a few months ago I reserved 6 condos and got to work planning.  I knew that the condos were not big enough for all of us to sew in, and I reserved the classroom in the community center for three days.  I ended up limiting the attendance to just 12, including myself, because I was concerned about having enough room for all of us to be comfortable sewing in the classroom.  Each person had a 6 foot table, and there was plenty of room for 3 cutting mats and 4 irons.  Perfect size, and no electrical problems!

img_7906

Not everyone knew each other before the retreat, but the beauty of a small group like this is the opportunity to chat on a more personal level with other people in our sewing community.  There was a wide range of personalities and ideologies, and it made for some fascinating conversations throughout the days and nights.
img_7893

Machine name tags helped with getting to know your sewing neighbor, but putting them on the handwheel certainly made them more entertaining.  If you don’t believe me, just try it sometime.  I had prepared and brought several games to play throughout the getaway, but in the end decided to keep things simple.  We had several gifts donated by Rana from Sewn Into the Fabric, some of which were part of daily treats, like this dang cute pumpkin pin cushion called Big Delores, and some were drawn for.

img_7862.jpg

One game we did play was to find the blue Peanut M&M.  Before heading to the retreat, I sorted 12 pounds of Peanut M&Ms by color, and hid a blue one in one of the jars.  The one to find it won the first prize of the week- a Seymore Bones kit from Rana!  Kris didn’t miss a beat and immediately dumped out his jar of M&Ms and found the blue one…

img_7892

That started the drawings that went on throughout the retreat.  Kris drew the name of the next winner, and then also drew what prize they got.  We had another Seymore Bones kit, three copies of “Simply Strings,” also by Rana, and several boxes of Wonder Clips by Clover.

I didn’t get pictures of every project that was made or worked on, but I got a few.  Here’s just a snippet of what some of us were working on…

During the planning process I found that I was less than excited about catering options, so I decided to cook for all of us.  Preparing food for 12 can seem daunting in some ways, but really, I come from/have a large family, so I am pretty accustomed to cooking for a crowd.  I don’t consider myself to be an especially impressive cook, or excessively healthy, but I feel like I do okay in the kitchen and I have learned a lot about improving my own nutrition over the last several months.  I checked with everyone for any special needs, then set a menu based on meals that I’ve made for my own family before.  Most of the shopping had to be done ahead of time, so my car was incredibly weighed down on the drive to Crossville!

img_7889

We ate at my condo because, well, I hate food near fabric!  Snacks are okay, but it really does bug me to sit in front of my machine with a plate of food.  The sewing room was just under a mile away from the condos, so most of us drove back and forth for lunch and dinner.  But the weather was PERFECT for a walk, as well.  I served the same way I do in my own home- countertop buffet style.  I also dislike a lot of garbage, so we used real plates and glasses and I washed cloth napkins between each meal.  I very much enjoyed cooking for everyone, and with a little preparation it wasn’t nearly as much work as it could have been!

Monday:  Lunch- Green Veggie Minestrone with salad bar; Dinner- Acorn squash with sausage, apples, and kale, roasted broccoli, and salad

Tuesday:  Lunch- Salad and sandwich bar; Dinner- Lemon rosemary chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus, muffins and raw veggies

Wednesday:  Lunch- Sandwich and salad bar; Dinner- Pork roast and apples with roasted mixed veggies and raw veggies

img_7909

Several of us also took a minute or two to visit some of the local establishments, like Little Blessings Quilt Shop in Crossville, and Gina’s Bernina in Knoxville.  This fabulous yarn shop was just a few miles down the road from the resort, and I was glad to have the chance to stop in at the Yarn Patch.  It’s a lovely shop, to say the least, and I didn’t have to look to hard to find something to take home with me.  I was especially impressed with the person working there, who I assume is the owner.  She handled her customers beautifully- gently guiding them as needed, and letting them wander as desired.  It really was a pleasure to shop there, and I hope to support this shop again sometime in the future.

img_7919

And just like that, it was all over.  The weather was wonderful.  The accommodations were perfect- including the enormous mirrored bathtub/shower in every unit- haha!  But the best part was the company.

Until next time…

Out on a F.A.R.T.

You heard me.  A Fabric Acquisition Road Trip.  A FART.

Sometimes A lot of times I feel like a spoiled brat quilter.  This last week was one of those times.  I got to go to Gatlinburg, TN with a couple of friends with the sole purpose of fabric shopping and condo quilting.  The trip wasn’t without a dose of guilt.  The friend that originated the idea and plan wasn’t able to go at the last minute.  My husband was home still recovering from being sick the week before.  I just went to QuiltCon the week before that.  The studio was waiting for me to fill it with creative goodness.  A friend had to teach my early morning seminary class for me. For four days.

All so I could go out on a FART.

FYI & BTW- it was a lot of fun.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures, which is unusual for me.  Perhaps a subconscious manifestation of quilt guilt.

Anyway, we did visit quite a few shops while we were there.  We generally followed the East Tennessee Shop Hop list, and visited 9 of the 12 shops listed on their flyer.  The dates for the shop hop are June 4 – 14, 2015, and you can click here to go to their Facebook page.  I enjoyed all of the shops that we visited, but there were 4 shops that stood out to me enough to justify a whole post dedicated to them.  If I didn’t learn anything else from this little FART, I learned never to judge a quilt shop by it’s exterior.

Gina’s Bernina Sewing Center

IMG_9594

This was by far my favorite of the shops that we went to during our road trip.  And honestly, I was shocked.  When we drove up to the property, I was expecting a sewing machine shop more than a fabric shop.  You know what I mean- mostly machines with just enough fabric to support demonstrating said machines, particularly with machine embroidery.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a monogram as much as the next southern girl, but when I’m out on a FART, machines just don’t do   it for me.  I want fabric.  I want color.  I want inspiration.  Well.  Let me tell you, this place delivered.  They have an amazing balance of traditional and modern. Everything from batiks to Tula, from Kaffe to HR.  A little machine embroidery.  A little smocking.  Quilting cottons.  Kids knits.  Seersucker.  Corduroy.  Batiste.  A little bit of everything.  Even fabric with little piles of dog pooh on it, some of which I totally bought.  All I can say is “I’ll be back.”

10816 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37934 ~ 865-966-5941 ~ www.ginasbernina.com

Machine Quiltin’ By Iva

IMG_9584

This was the very first shop we stopped in, and one of only two shops that we visited twice.  It appears unassuming, and maybe even small from the outside.  But once inside I found treasures in just about every corner. This place was packed tight full of fabric, and while it definitely had a more traditional feel to it, it had a surprising smattering of modern designers thrown in here and there.  Also, if you’re a Moda collector, this place is a little bit of heaven with both current and out of print lines tucked in here and there.  I had difficulty deciding, and while I made off with a bag of goodies, I also had to exercise some self control and leave some behind for the next poor fool to walk in those doors.

1020 Old Knoxville Hwy, Sevierville, TN 37862 ~ 865-428-8008 ~ No website, but click here for Luann’s Loose Threads blog- she wrote about this shop in 2011 and took lots of interior photos.  Some of it looks the same, some of it not, but still a good representation.

The Cherry Pit

IMG_9585

I have been hearing about this shop for so many years it’s just straight up ridiculous.  People love this place, and I have to say, I do too now.  It does, as one might  guess, have a pretty heavy bias towards traditional quilting, but I have to give props  to these ladies for being open to innovation.  I got the feeling that if I walked in the  store with a Luke Haynes style portrait quilt, or a Denyse Schmidt improv, they  would have fallen over with glorious revelry in the smartness of it.  And the staff  couldn’t have been better.  Accommodating, but knew when to butt out and let me  work through my own process of choosing fabric.  And witty.  And funny.  I love a  funny quilter.  They are twice as smart as everyone else, if you ask me.  However, I  have to say that my dear strictly modern friends would have a hard time at this  shop- I literally couldn’t find a single bolt of solid fabric.  It was kind of odd, but gave  me a challenge for the project I was shopping for.  And I actually really like a  challenge.
115 Bruce Street, Sevierville, TN 37862 ~ 865-453-4062 ~ www.quiltingatthecherrypit.com

Pappy’s Quilting Place

IMG_9596

Don’t judge an LQS by it’s exterior.  Or it’s name.  Or that it is located in an old gas station.  I think the funniest thing about this shop was that there was a sweet man working there- cutting fabric and running the register.  Pappy, right?  I’m not sure.  I heard him say his sister was the owner.  So is she Pappy?  Or maybe she inherited it from Pappy?  It’s still a mystery because I was too busy shopping to ask.  This shop was definitely the most traditional of the four that I am talking about in this post, but I have to tell you that for this crossover quilter, it was totally worth the drive.  If for no other reason than to try to figure out who exactly Pappy is…

3426 Sevierville Road, Maryville, TN  37804 ~ 865-980-0950 ~ www.pappysquilting.com

What a fun quilt guilt trip.  Wonder when I can go again…