Author Archives: Anny

About Anny

I am happiest during the creative phase of bag making. My studio is in a downtown historical loft built in 1890 with a view of the harbor. I have an armoire full of beautiful fabric and a map chest full of buttons, fringe, beads, and all the little pretties that make a bag one-of-a-kind. Every time I sew, my faithful Golden Retriever and English Setter are at my feet, and on REALLY special days, my precious granddaughters sew with me!



A while back I decided to plunge into an area I’ve long wanted to learn–Upholstery!  A lady named Jennifer, who is an expert upholsterer, offered classes in Houston.  I was lucky enough to be her last student before she moved her whole operation to Navasota, TX.

For the classes I chose a chair with a carved wooden frame that I’ve had for ten years, and selected a jet black silky velvet to replace a faded floral.  Refinishing the chair was included in the lessons, so I went from a natural wood to a romantically distressed shabby chic.  Jennifer was a strong, excellent teacher and the lessons were fun!  Here is a before and after:




I’m thrilled with the result!  If you don’t have classes near you, I can recommend a comprehensive guide that will lead you step by step with tons of pictures and lists of tools and resources:

Spruce:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design.

It helps to be strong–tugging on the webbing and fabric is not easy–but with proper tools and instructions, you can transform the furniture you already love. Give it a try!





From Mink to Mink

From Mink to Mink

Recently a sweet, generous neighbor gifted me with a fabulous mink hat.  She said she knew I wear many hats (both figuratively and physically 🙂 and thought I might enjoy it.  I am in favor of FAUX fur, but definitely wanted the mink beret to have a good home.  One day, thinking how nice it would be if the beret could actually go back to its rightful owner (it was a family heirloom), I hit upon the idea of making the hat into a purse for her.  So here you see the beret in its original form, and then the transition to charming, little purse.  I shaped it into an oblong position, added handles, an interior snap, and attached an accessory for the final touch.  Voila!



My dear neighbor was very touched by the gesture and confided that the mink had belonged to her grandmother.  And, anytime she wants to convert the purse back into a hat, every alteration I made is totally reversible.  From Mink to Mink!


Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

If you have not had an opportunity to view “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, you are in luck.  The viewing has been extended through March 18, and ball gowns enjoyed by Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and First Ladies, Laura and Barbara Bush, are only a few of the styles that will amaze you.  Here are the highlights of my recent visit:



Imagine a night in this red dress, worn by Beyonce in Vogue Magazine.


Here is a ball gown chosen for a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



I love this sequin embroidery evening coat. The detailed handwork is exquisite.  You must experience it in person!


It was a thrill to see Amal Clooney’s custom wedding dress and vail:

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Houston Socialite, Lynn Wyatt, adored wearing this pantsuit ensemble many evenings to entertain.


Ms. Wyatt also enjoyed dancing the night away in this stunning gown:


I was fascinated by this cocktail dress.  The fabric was designed based on the historical pattern in Marie-Antoinette’s bedchamber at Versailles.


See more of this collection of Oscar de la Renta, internationally known fashion designer at MFAH.  Be sure to wear the complimentary headset to enjoy the fascinating, often humorous, stories of his life, told by those close to him and the ladies for whom he designed.




Cruising the Caribbean

Cruising the Caribbean

Cruising the Caribbean

Well, I wish I were, but I’m not, so I turned my wishes into a bag.  Cruising the Caribbean is the name of my latest project.  A tropical fabric featuring shades of Florida, Cuba, palm trees and maps was urging me to be turned into a summer travel bag.  The pattern is my original design, the Jenny Bag, and the fabric was purchased from Michael Levine in L.A.  I added bright neon fringe from M&J Trimming, as well as crystalline light green beadwork.  Hopefully, someone will be calling “Bon Voyage” with her!

A Rose for Rosie

Lemon Breeze                                                         

A Rose for Rosie and Lemon Breeze are two more versions of the large zippered clutches created from the bright summery faux crocodile, sleek but textured.  Fabrics from Mood and Michael Levine (where I also purchased the leather flowers.)  By the way, my source for purse zippers is the Zipper Island website.  You can find any color and size, and shipping is quick!  They’re delightful to work with and I highly recommend them.  (No, they do not pay me. :))

Jeweled Garden

Jeweled Garden was a dream to complete.  The Chemisette pattern from CraftApple designs always goes together easily and is very versatile.  This time I used fabric from Laminates on Etsy and my faux crocodile from Mood.  The blue and gold beadwork ties it all together using a velvet teal ribbon.

Passion for Poppies

Sometimes I have a hard time letting a purse go, such as Passion for Poppies.  This Michael Miller fabric is out of print and very limited but I was lucky to find it online.  I paired it with Kaleidoscope by Notting Hill, then added delicate blue and gold beading with hand-dyed silk ribbon.

Cat’s Meow 

Cat’s Meow (backside)

I believe Cat’s Meow is the first purse that I’ve added a featured embellishment.  I appliqued the crushed black velvet cat onto the textured leopard.  But, since the cat seemed to fade into the busy leopard print, I needed something more to make her stand out.  I found some white thick thread, almost like cording, and couched it all around the cat.  That seemed to form a nice outline that accented her silouette.  I gave her a beaded floral collar and rhinestone eyes.  Then added a jeweled pendant to the top and a silky pink tassel to the backside zipper pull.  I’m very pleased with this creation.  It was definitely more time consuming, but also a rewarding challenge.

Speaking of a challenge, often I am sewing a purse that has thick seams and is way too much challenge for my favorite Bernina.  You know I love, love, love my old Bernina, and she is perfect for most everything I need to sew.  But…I do need a machine to tackle those super thick seams, especially since my fall/winter pursemaking will be starting before you know it, with thick faux furs, leathers, and upholstery.  So, yes, I’ve been looking at industrial machines online for research and tomorrow will be testing some out for purchase up in Houston.  Only one place offers them, but their prices look reasonable.  I’m looking at Juki, Seiko, Con Sew, and Pfaff.  I’m shopping for a heavy duty, cylinder arm, walking foot machine.  If you’ve ever seen anyone making shoes, it resembles the machine they use.  The presser foot raises high, so you can join together many layers, and the walking foot feeds the fabric through evenly, plus it all happens with a knee lift and a custom table.  I feel so guilty, like I’m cheating on Betsy, but she’ll still be used for most of my sewing since she has multiple feet and features.  I wouldn’t feel so bad if I had a machine that gave me a lot of trouble, but she’s great!  Anyway, if you’ve read previous posts, you know everything has feelings, right. 🙂  Anyone out there have an industrial machine that makes you happy?  I need reviews!

Thanks, and I’ll keep you posted.




Saturday, April 22, I have the privilege once again of being the Featured Artist at Tina’s on the Strand for ArtWalk!  To prepare for this event, I’ve been sewing up a storm, and thought I would give you a sneak preview of the show.


Sea Garden was designed from a modification of the Sara Lawson pattern, Arabesque.  Now a fairly large clutch, it was fashioned from turquoise faux crocodile and layed flowers from Mood Fabrics.  To achieve a breezy seaside effect, I added pearly shell trim and a delicately beaded zipper pull featuring a sparkly blue seahorse.


Another bag featuring cool colors is the Dripping Springs laminated cotton bag which is adorned with clear beading that absorbs the color of the fabric underneath.  Obviously, I wish to get my hands on some more of this beading, as it will enhance any color I’m using!  This is the Pasadena pattern designed by Stephanie Prescott of A Quilter’s Dream.


Island Time was created from the Alexander Henry fabric called “Mahalo Girls.” Whenever I sew a bag from this fabric, it seems to be very popular.  Must be the retro vibe. 🙂  Using my own pattern, the Jenny Bag, I fashioned a large version with leather handles and a flower from Michael Levine.   Red tassel trim adds the finishing touch.


Same fabric, and a completely different look for Island Girls.  This uniquely shaped bag pattern is from Amy Barickman.  This time I complemented with faux red crocodile, a bamboo handle, and a mother of pearl flower for a bit of island magic.

The pattern for Island Girls offers a unique backside opening.  I added this cute girl sporting sunglasses for a snazzy zipper pull. 🙂


Another girl adorns the zipper pull on Gigi Tours the Flower Market, and she sports a shopping tote that made me think she would be touring the Paris flower market since she’s surrounded by floral fabric.  A large sunny bloom and a red polka dot handle add a playful note.


Speaking of playful, Playful Picasso is adorable in person.  The picture doesn’t really tell the story.  On both  sides of this colorful upholstery fabric, there are deep pockets of yellow and blue faux crocodile, perhaps for sunglasses or a water bottle.  The blue, gold, and green ribbon fringe decorates the top which leads to patent leather handles, and the interior is lined with a bright blue polka dot cotton.  A super unusual and fun bag!


FanDangle is one of my favorites.  The pattern is from the quilting world, by Nancy Green.  The beautifully colored cotton is by Moda Fabrics.  This pattern was perfect for what is called a Layer Cake–10″ x 10″ swatches of coordinated fabric from the same line.  The gusset was cut from oilcloth featuring red cherries on a black background.  She sports a trim of black and clear beads, and in the middle is a dangling girl clutching  a time piece.  The design resembles a fan, and the featured embellishment is a dangling girl, hence I dubbed her FanDangle.


(Back Side)

The last two bags are the CraftApple pattern, The Knotted Bag.  Hot Tropics is a combination of Philip Jacobs “Tropical” and a hot pink laminated cotton.  My embellishment tassel drawer offered a hot pink and green trim that complemented it perfectly.  However, since the trim was intended as piping, I needed another trim to cover the raw part of the piping that would normally be inserted between fabrics.  So I found a velvety pink rick rack in my stash and stitched it on top. 🙂


(Back Side)

Same pattern, different fabric combinations.  “Jungle Fever” for Westminster Fibers is a delightful toucan design, that I paired with a glossy black laminate.  This is a wonderful sightseeing, shopping, and errand bag, since it offers a large exterior pocket and three generous interior pockets.  The lining is a lime green linen and the lime green clam shell charm is removable.

So, yes, I’m exhausted, but finished and happy and ready for Artwalk!  Hope to see you there!





We live in Mardi Gras.  We live “IN” Mardi Gras.  Our building is situated inside the borders of the perimeter of ticket booths and fences.  So…we catch the elevator down, race out the front door, and catch beads from the passing parades.  In between parades, I sew!  Well, sometimes we grab a glass of bubbly at open house parties with neighbors or offer champagne at ours–then I sew!

I love sewing in an environment of music and madness.  So, I present to you the most recent creations from an atmosphere of raucous partying. 🙂 Cheers!



This bag was inspired by the yellow flowers I purchased at Mood Fabrics over the holidays.  The leaves were rolled into shape from pleated moss-green fabric in my inventory, and I believe the “spotted” fabric is from Interior Fabrics, Houston.  The pattern is the Lucille Bag from Abbey Lane and the handle is from Studio Mio.


Made from faux crocodile, laminated cotton and a watch, this bag is called Hickory Dickory Croc. 🙂  The pattern is Amy Barickman and the doll pendant/zipper pull is Laliberi.  Fabric from Fabric Decor, Houston.



“Springtime Splendor” is fashioned from a laminated Kaffe Fassett cotton and adorned with a fuchsia fringe from M & J Trimming, another fabulous NYC shop.  Pattern by Amy Butler.



This lovely designer fabric is Belle Rose by London Portfolio for Michael Miller.  The gusset and strap is an embossed faux leather and the pattern is Cindy Taylor Oates.  But the most interesting feature is the flower which I purchased in a shop near Warner Brother Studios in L.A.  They sell items from movie and TV shows, and this flower was worn on “Switched at Birth.”



I really wanted to keep this bag.  The fabrics are a combo of oil cloth and golden faux leather and the pattern is the mini messenger bag by Ali Foster.



Now here’s a wild bag for the lady who really wants to make a statement.  I named it, “Too Much To Dream Last Night” but the actual name of the fabric was Mystic Forest which I also like as a title.  The fringe is from Mood and the pattern is the Caroline Bag by Cindy Taylor Oates.



“We’ll Always Have Paris” was created from a laminated cotton called Remember by Carina Gardner for Riley Blake Designs.  I love the “chandelier” effect which I embellished with a jeweled cross and a flower sewn by me in a class I took from Faye Labanaris at International Quilt Festival.  Pattern by Amy Butler.



I was excited to try the “Tie Front Tote” by Ali Foster and the pattern came together easily.  I’d like to use it again someday soon.  The fabric is called Madhuri for Riley Blake Designs and I added floral trim purchased on Etsy.



“Urban Garden” is a wonderful size purse from CraftApple called “The Chemisette  Handbag.”  The fabric is laminated cotton and the leather flower is from Michael Levine in L.A.  The jumbo rickrack is from Indygo Junction.  My understanding is that this purse, as well as the previous “Happy Dance” purse, now resides in Wisconsin. 🙂




This is a fun pattern that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.  It’s called the Tulip Bag but I call this one “Razzle Dazzle.”  The fabric is Bella Epoch by Kaffe Fassett.  The embellishment brooch and trim are from Trims on Wheels.



“Midnight in Paris” is my Anny Clutch design and it was actually created and sold at the end of the year.  The velvets are from Mood, the doll pendant from Laliberi, and the rich tassel trim is from Roma Decor in L.A.  There is a skinny leather optional strap hidden inside for added functionality.

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In January I created a birthday present bag for my granddaughter who loves Frida Kahlo. This is another CraftApple design called “The Knotted Bag.”  It’s large enough to carry sketches.  The fabric is “Frida’s Garden” for Alexander Henry and I combined it with velvets from Cowgirls and Lace in Dripping Springs.  Madison was lucky to have visited the Frida exhibit in Austin, and we saw a few of her paintings in NYC at MoMA.



“Tangerine Dream” combines a laminated cotton with coral faux crocodile.  I love this Charlie’s Aunt pattern by Emma Brennan called the “Chattisham Clutch Bag.”

And speaking of clutches:



I am hugely excited about this pattern by Sara Lawson.  It’s called the Arabesque Bag but I have modified it from a tote to a large clutch with a wrist strap.  It’s approximately 10 x 13 inches.  The most exciting part for me is learning to sew better with purse zippers.  When I had a question, Sara actually emailed me back.  I was super impressed because she is huge in the purse-making world and I really appreciated her responding and very quickly.  Coral faux crocodile, Mood flowers, and Laliberi doll pendant/zipper pull all make for a stylish and functional purse for spring.



And now, this is why I’m so excited about the previous pattern.  Would you believe that this is the same pattern?!  Completely different style generated from the same pattern–one is sleek and contemporary and the other lush and romantic.  That’s why sewing is ever so versatile, fun, and inspiring!  The dreamy fabric is an elegantly embroidered chenille from Cowgirls and Lace, and the fringe and subtly shaded flower are from Miss Rose Sister Violet from Australia.

Obviously, the possibilities are endless, and I have fabric fever!  Tons of ideas floating in my brain that my fingers must bring to fruition.  So it’s good-bye Mardi Gras and on with the Parade of Purses!











Manhattan Memories

Manhattan Memories

Oh, my beautiful New York!  Everything is heightened at the holidays.  Enhanced lighting, multilingual conversations, cathedral bells, and the slightest flurry of snow added to our enchanting journey.  We stayed at a newly renovated boutique hotel called The Archer on 38th Street in the Garment District, hence the sculpture of an evening dress by the entryway.


Each evening, in addition to discovering a delectable treat on our desk, we had a view of the Empire State Building.  Our in-room coffee service consisted of a Nespresso machine (think George Clooney and Danny Devito) plus Harney & Sons tea.  On a past visit to NYC, my friend led us to the Harney & Sons Tea Shop which was devine!


The highlight of our first evening in the city was having dinner at Max Brenner’s–the very best dessert destination featuring chocolate–lots and lots of chocolate! They offer chocolate pizza, chocolate waffles…you get the idea.  After dinner I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut Milkshake served in the “fantasy cup” inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

img_7087The atmosphere was festive and beautifully decorated.


The following day we were superbly lucky to have booked the Law & Order Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan through our friend, Ike, with NYC Adventure Tours.  Ike is a retired, real, NYPD detective!  He led us to multiple sites of crime scenes, movie and TV locations, and endless historical stories.  Billed as “The hangouts, the haunts, and the hideaways of NYC’s most notorious criminals.”  Here is just a sample.


Seen in movies and TV shows, Central Booking (or “The Tombs”) is where felons are held for processing and pre-trial detention. “The Tombs” are connected by the Bridge of Sighs, four stories up.  When a prisoner is transferred, the two escorts meet in the middle of the bridge, replacing the handcuffs one at a time to avoid any escapes.


Scene of a famous mob shooting, Murder at the Feast of San Gennaro.  Arthur Felig (aka Weegee) was the first newspaper crime scene photographer.



Oldest gun store in NYC and the only place to buy a legal hand gun.



Ferrara’s Pastry Shop, established 1892, was our snack stop on the tour.  Everyone grabbed a cannoli and a hot chocolate to warm up as we continued the tour.


New York State Supreme Court.  You’ve seen this in countless episodes of Law and Order, plus the movie Twelve Angry Men, and a scene from the Godfather where Barzini is walking out and gets gunned down by Al Neri, who is dressed as a cop.


Recognize this?  It’s a filming location for Sex and the City.  Still a good restaurant/bar today. 🙂  There were so many stops on this wonderful 2-1/2 hour tour, with a nice surprise at the end, but I won’t spoil it for you in case you get lucky enough to catch this great sightseeing experience.  We had to say good-bye to Ike to head for our next agenda item–One World Observatory.


The Old and The New

The Old and The New

Be sure to pre-order your tickets online, like we did, or you’ll be faced with an enormous line of tourists.  Once inside, you’ll ride in The Sky Pod elevators (among the fastest in the world) that will zoom you to the 102nd floor while watching a super speedy movie of the history of New York’s architecture on the elevator walls and ceiling!  Whew!  So, at the top…

gpzy3803         The Old and The New

After One World Observatory, we did a little shopping at One World Plaza, spending most of our time sampling perfume in the Joe Malone boutique.ccct0324

Continuing on to our evening tour, we pit-stopped at Starbuck’s where the night sky offered up the most beautiful, gentle snow flurries!  Kenny, our guide, led us on the NYC East Village Food Tour.  We were treated to hot dogs, pizza, falafel, dumplings, papaya juice, egg cream and more.  Between savory stops, we learned the history of this unique neighborhood and the culture that influenced the awesome food.  Here is The Papaya King where we sampled quintessential New York hot dogs.

xsid6996-1         kufo9697

Our tour for seeing the holiday lights and store windows was cancelled due to security and traffic issues, so we planned our own holiday windows route including Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cartier.  Take a look…









And the last window was interactive.  You could place your hand on the Naughty-or-Nice meter. 🙂


Well, I guess you could consider the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to be the height of holiday decorating, and we left the best for last.  This year’s Norwegian Spruce from Oneonta, NY, is 94 feet tall and 56 feet wide, adorned with approximately 50,000 LED lights.  You think it was hard getting that star on your tree?  Try a Swarovski star, nine-and-a-half feet in diameter and weighing 550 pounds!bmgd8782


When I reserved our table at Rockefeller Cafe for New Year’s Eve dinner, I never dreamed we would actually sit at a round table by the window that was eye level with the flow of skaters.  We looked out upon the magnificent tree above the bronze sculpture of Prometheus.  Skaters would literally skate fast and grab the rail directly in front of us!  It was fun to watch couples and families, some seemingly pro skaters and some first time skaters, all having a fun New Year’s Eve.  Oh! And a few tables over, a groom-to-be proposed to his girlfriend and the whole restaurant clapped as she very happily said, “Yes!”



After dinner we made an unplanned stop to the Top of the Rock.  As we scanned the city, we could actually see the crystal ball in Times Square, poised to drop at midnight.  Amateur photographers with tripods were all setting up to capture the big moment.



We strolled back to The Archer (stopping to buy champagne) and watched the ball drop on TV as we toasted, listening to the crowds roar through our open windows.  What a great year–and good wishes ahead for 2017!

On New Year’s Day, we started the New Year right with brunch at Sarabeth’s.  Fabulous brunch menu and charming decor.


Then it was on to MoMA!  We were fortunate to catch some traveling exhibits, including Francis Picabia:  Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.


Marc Chagall:


Frida Kahlo


Florine Stettheimer


And…Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”


Time for another event and yet another check of the Uber app. 🙂  Yea, Uber!


Speaking of art, NYC graffiti artists have exhibited their work as well, which we noted on the Law and Order Walking Tour, often through chain link fences.









One of my all-time favorite places that we visited in New York was Bryant Park.  The sun was low in the sky, casting beautiful scenes of light and shadow, while shoppers and skaters enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures!  Grayson was determined to find a hot dog from a real NYC hot dog stand.  Success!img_7407



Ice Skating Rink


Shops Like This 🙂


The New York Public Library  is  Adjacent to the Park

The Empire State Building Peeks Through

The Empire State Building Peeks Through the Skyline

That evening, after dinner, we rode uptown to Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular.  Every year is different and this year my favorite part was wearing the 3D glasses. 🙂



The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

Monday was our last day in the Big Apple, but we managed to have lunch together before we went parted ways to separate airports.  We ate the best pizza ever at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, called the Cathedral of Pizza.  It is housed in a 19th-century church and has retained the original architecture.  The stained glass dome ceiling remains, and the brick ovens adorn the edges like altars.



My trip wouldn’t have been complete without a teensy bit of fabric shopping.  After all, we were in the Garment District!  M & J Trimming was just around the corner where I found perfect hot pink fringe, and then it was off to Mood.



Mood Fabrics – Third Floor

First of all, I had barely started shopping when I heard a bark, bark, bark!  There was Swatch, standing at the top of the stairs, just barking at the air. 🙂  Poor Swatch, too many people invading his space.

A Calmer Swatch

A Calmer Swatch

So here’s what I found.  Beautiful 3-D yellow floral trim which you will see on a bag in my next post.  Also, some multicolor pink/red silky fringe.  You know I love velvet, so I couldn’t pass up deep pink crushed velvet. I spotted a bolt of geometric red fashion wool which I can use next season.  Then, in the back, where they keep the dress forms, what do I see but that very same fabric made into a jacket!  Could it be from Project Runway?!  Does that mean my taste qualifies me to compete??  Nope, I told ya before–I’m Too S-l-o-o-o-w!

Cute Jacket. Project Runway?

So my final “taste” of New York, as we’re waiting on the Uber, is the last of many Gong Cha teas I consumed.  Gong Cha–with the tapioca pearls!  Yum!!


I miss you, Gong Cha!  See ya next time!

Sew, Travel, Sew, Travel, Sew…

Sew, Travel, Sew, Travel, Sew…

This month we are fortunate to visit my two favorite cities:  L.A. and NYC!  Just returned from a short trip to L.A. to celebrate the engagement of our son, Bryan, and his fiancee, Liz.  We spent some quality time in Marina Del Ray and saw the wedding and rehearsal dinner venues for June. Looking forward to an awesome event!  This week we are having fun with our other son, Eric, and his girlfriend, Jill. Then Friday, it’s off to Austin to visit Jennifer, Tate, and the girls.  Loving the holiday family fun times!

While in L.A., I dashed down to the Fashion District for a visit to Michael Levine and Mood.  I spotted some brightly colored fabrics, anticipating spring/summer bagmaking. 🙂  We’ll be visiting NYC next week and our boutique hotel will be in the Garment District!  Oh, darn–ha ha.  Since many of my blog posts are about travel, you probably wonder when I have time to make bags.  Well that’s coming up in January, but I did manage to finish a few after the China trip and Quilt Festival, and I’ll share those with you now…

Loretta Loves Leopard

Loretta Loves Leopard

Rumor has it that Loretta Loves Leopard was purchased by a lady named Loretta. I’m so happy!  This faux fur textured bag’s pattern had extra room on the sides where you see I added two pockets.  Fancied the top with a little gold fringe and a cute doll accessory, then added leather gold handles.  Voila!

Beyond the Nest

Beyond the Nest

Beyond the Nest was one of those purses that I secretly hoped wouldn’t sell–but it did.  I love this bag!  It is my own Jenny pattern design, created from a fur/feathery fabric from Michael Levine.  The band is vintage crushed velour and I placed a beautiful brooch from Trims on Wheels.  The handle is an easy-to-apply and fashionable clip-on that I love from Studio Mio.



Cowabunga is a snazzy little Western bag that will be perfect for Texas Hill Country.  The faux cow-hide is from Cowgirls and Lace, and I simply added black and red fringe, dripping Western beads, and a few flowers to give it a chic yet country vibe. 🙂


London Flat again makes use of the crushed velour, plus a furry leopard, and beautifully textured golden upholstery fabric.  A large flower and clip on handles complete the look.  This is actually a pattern designed by Stephanie Prescott of A Quilter’s Dream that I had noticed at Quilt Festival where it was fashioned from cotton.  I decided to use denser fabric and create a fall/winter look using the same pieces, and adding more interior pockets.


After returning from China, I couldn’t wait to finish Shades of Shanghai.  This is also from the quilt world, a pattern from Pink Sand Beach called the Mahattan Handbag.  I like to fancy it up and since this had an Asian vibe, I added bamboo handles and a frog closure just for decoration.  The fabrics were a fat quarter bundle from long ago.  This is why you purchase fabric that grabs you.  I bought this not knowing what in the world I would use it for and it has become a stylish purse. 🙂


Now this is the same pattern, using another fat quarter bundle purchased long ago, but I added delicate dripping black beads, crushed velour gusset and handles, and sewed a purchased flower to one I made from faux leather.  I named her Vintage Victorian.


Boho Chic is created from a Cindy Taylor Oates pattern called the Lakehouse Bag.  I used a mod design fabric that has a denim feel and added a large boho style flower.  I knew when I saw these beautiful Hippie look beads that they would accessorize it perfectly, with a little braid sewn on top in the same shade of green. A very fun bag!


We have a newborn in the family now from my nephew and his wife, and since she’s a gorgeous little girl, I had to make her a “first purse,” right?  Fashioned from vintage chenille, this simple bag has cording for a handle and a ribbon closure.  Of course it has a pocket and an “It’s Sew Anny” label inside. 🙂  Something tells me she’ll be receiving many more over the years…


Okay, don’t faint…this bag is for me!  I had a very similar one I had sewn over four years ago and used every winter.  A few beads had fallen by the wayside and it had some fading, so I whipped up a new version and enjoy it so much!  This is from the same Cindy Taylor Oates book, but a style called “Caroline’s Bag.”

And that’s it for now–off to find more fabric in the Big Apple!  Happy Holidays, Everyone!

International Quilt Festival 2016


Grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, whatever suits your fancy, and come along with me for a tour of Houston’s International Quilt Festival 2016!

George R. Brown Convention Center

George R. Brown Convention Center

True to our usual M.O., my sister, Nannette, and I stayed at the adjoining Hilton Hotel Wednesday to Saturday to fulfill all our shopping and quilting fixes.  Wednesday night was Preview Night from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.  Nannette admired the crazy quilts

img_6132and I paid a visit to the Texas Quilt Museum Booth.


Beautiful booths everywhere,



including one of my annual favorites, Edie and Luc Roelens booth, Trims on Wheels.  Here’s a sample of what you will find there:





I enjoyed my favorites, such as Miss Rose Sister Violet, Diane Springer, Material Girl, Adorn-It, Mica’s Room and Hanah Silk.  Throughout the show this year, I purchased trims, dyes, fabric, embroidery, awesome scissors, and purse parts and patterns.  Nannette snagged the best purchase of all:  an actual wall hanging from the quilt gallery to hang in her horse arena!


The artwork is entitled, “Home!”  by Cathy Wiggins from North Carolina.  Cathy achieved the look of a finely tooled Western saddle by quilting leather and applying dyes.  She used real conchos on the saddle and studs on the hat brim, then left the raw edges of the hide.  Everyone was interested in how Cathy “quilts” leather!  Her exhibit consisted of many fine pieces, all true works of art, introducing her own new and special techniques.

While we mostly shopped that first evening, the next day was back to the show, and a class for me.  Hanah Silk Flowers was taught by Faye Labanaris.


We created roses, pansies, and posies from bias cut silk ribbons and velvets. 🙂


In addition to registered classes, you are treated to a schedule of demonstrations provided by Craftsy.  We enjoyed learning from Annie of who taught us about purses, hardware, zippers, and patterns.


And now on to the show!  We’ll start in the Winners’ Circle with the most prestigious overall award, the $12,500 winner of Best of Show.  img_6153

This year’s honor goes to Cynthia England of Dickinson, Texas.  Reflections of Capetown took a year to make and contains 8,400 pieces.  Cynthia was teaching quilting in South Africa when a side trip to a fishing village afforded her this scene of boats and reflections.  Her inspiration was the photograph she took, which she transformed into a masterpiece quilt of hand applique and machine quilting.


Cynthia holding her inspirational photograph.

Cynthia holding her inspirational photograph.

Silk Road Sampler by Melissa Sobotka was another all-time

favorite of mine.  This quilt depicts a spice bazaar established in 1597, evoking smells and tastes through the imagination.  The bottom is bordered by tassels.


Bouquet Royale by Margaret Solomon Gunn from Gorham, Maine, won the Baby Lock World of Beauty $7,500 award.


Mikyung Jang from South Korea, portrayed one of the most beautiful old castles in Korea through intricately machine quilting and hand dyeing.


Another winner was Unknown Man, fused applique, by Marina Landi and Maria Lucia Azara from Sao Paulo, Brazil.


The $7,500 Founders’ Award this year went to Sally Magee from Texas for Baltimore in Bloom, a design by Sue Garman.  This quilt took Sally 3,000 hours to applique and 1,000 hours to hand quilt!


I don’t pretend to know how  the quilts are judged but each one is amazing.  The quilts that follow are simply ones that made me go, “Wow!”  Royal Palm Hawaiian by Laverne Matthews is a huge quilt with stunning colors.  Her design source was folded paper cut designs.  It was hand appliqued and quilted.


Another quilt that caught my eye with its striking colors is Chambord Fantasy by Jacqueline Manley from Reno, Nevada.  While traveling in France, she photographed the architecture of Chateau Chambord France with its quirky towers for her inspiration.


What’s this???  While meandering through the quilts, in one corner of the building, I came upon a sign… though I’m not sure what takes place there, I did see one lone man sitting in the corner… 🙂


Now here’s a quilt!  “Crocodylus Smylus” by Susan Carlson of Harpswell, Maine, is 22′ x 6′ and weighs 30 pounds, taking two years to complete.

Crocodylus Smylus

Crocodylus Smylus

Close-up of

Close-up of “Stevie”

“Stevie” is nicknamed for naturalist Steve Irwin and is a life-size replica of a real saltwater crocodile.  If you would like to see a time-lapse video of this quilting creation, go to

Susan and her Stevie

Susan and her Stevie

“Stevie” was part of her eleven quilt nature exhibit, including:

Kaldi Moondance (Ugandan stork)

Kaldi Moondance
(Ugandan stork)


Tickled Pink

Tickled Pink

Hmm, seeing a pink rhinoceros reminded us that we’d better call it a day and check out the Pappasito’s drink menu for a large scrumptious sangria!  Paired with nachos and quesadillas, it was the end to a perfectly quilty day.


Night view from the Hilton

Night view from the Hilton

Friday brought us back to reality as it was our last full day.  Yikes!  On with the Tour de Quilts. Moving faster now…   African Sunflower by Peggy DeLaVergne:


Autumn Leaves by Nancy Ryan reminded me of the fall I long for in Indiana…


Head 7 by Diane Siebels was a depiction of the merging of human beings with the constant influx of data:

Head 7

Head 7

Head 7 Close-up

Head 7 Close-up

Pseudo Lunar Topography by Meggan Czapiga:


It Takes a Village by Susan Bleiweiss:

It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

Suburban Nest by Sara Sharp in Austin, Texas.  The inspiration for this quilt was when the artist noticed that sparrows had built a nest in a commercial sign on the Nest building. 🙂  The 3-D effect of the nest is adorable in person.


Beauty in the Darkness – Artist Kim Boroway:

Beauty in the Darkness

Beauty in the Darkness

Nannette and I broke for lunch upstairs where ladies just share large round tables.


There we met Debbie Wick of Elmira, New York, the artist for the following luscious quilts in the Primitive/Folk Art Style.  Maggie Grace’s Garden (design by Di Ford-Hall) took two years to complete, and is hand pieced, appliqued, and quilted.

Maggie Grace's Garden

Maggie Grace’s Garden

Another amazing quilt by Debbie is Cottage Garden by Blackbird Designs.  Hand appliqued!

Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden

In the same traditional category is Folk Art Flowers by Paula Wexler.  Hand appliqued and hand quilted.  Using many different fabrics, her challenge was limiting it to just four colors.

Folk Art Flowers

Folk Art Flowers

The artists are Unknown for the following beauties.

Flower Garden Star

Flower Garden Star

A Path Through the Flower Garden

A Path Through the Flower Garden

An especially colorful and delightfully kaleidoscopic type quilt is the Millefiori.  The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).  Enjoy!

My Butterfly Garden by Dawn Monk of Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom.  It took fourteen months and is hand-pieced with 150 different fabrics.


Dawn Monk explaining her quilt.

Dawn Monk explaining her quilt.

La Passacaglia:  Sometimes More Is More, hand-pieced by Mary Althaus.


An award-winning Texas’ Guilds Traditional Quilt is Sunshine by Judy Wolff from Lincoln, Texas.  This quilt has 80,402 pieces!  Wish you could see it in person.



In the category of Art-Naturescapes:

Sunkissed by Theresa Olson from Port Saint Lucia, Florida.


The Innovative Applique division offered:

Moonflower by Molly Hamilton Mcnally of Tehachapi, California.  Her inspiration was “the humble daisy.”



Tulip Fields by Anna Faustino of Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.  The black outline was cut freehand.  The vibrant colors were inserted between the batting and the cut black, then fused into place.  Her inspiration was Hollands’ tulips.  Love this quilt!


Birds Fly… by Barbara Lies, Wheaton, Illinois.  The openwork bars are a hand and machine applique process developed by the artist.


In the American Tradition category is El Camino Serenade by Denise Nelms of Irvine, California.


“Sarah’s Revival in Blue” by Gail Smith from Barrington, Illinois, is hand appliqued from a Sue Garman design.  Huge quilt that is stunning!

Sarah's Revival in Blue

Sarah’s Revival in Blue

Quilts de Legende category offers “Illusion d’Optique” by Anne-Marie Sierra of Paris, France.  Another large masterpiece!

Illlusion d'Optique

Illlusion d’Optique

The Innovative Pieced category included “Quahadi” by Marla Kay Yeager of Ava, Missouri.  This quilt was five years in the making.



One of my favorite sections is the Art Whimsical Category.  Of course, I was first attracted to the Golden Retriever…

Obsession by Tonya Littman of Denton, Texas, even bordered the bottom with miniature tennis balls!


Grace Sim quilted an original design inspired by coloring books and Swarovski crystals called iColor Longhorn.


iColor Longhorn close-up

iColor Longhorn close-up

A really cute and colorful quilt was designed by Cindy Cooksey of Irvine, California.  It’s called “The Innkeeper Wore Black” and it was inspired by a visit to a bed and breakfast.  It was a colorful B & B, with bold patterns on everything except the talkative innkeeper, who wore black.


In the Patterns category:

“On the Same Page” by book lover, Linda Anderson of La Mesa, California.  Based on a photograph of a family member.  This is a huge quilt that is amazing in person.


On the Same Page close-up

On the Same Page

Another in the Patterns category is “Tiles” by Cathie Hoover.  Her inspiration came from sidewalk tiles in Barcelona.



The next category is termed Hands All Around 2016 sponsored by Quilters Newsletter Magazine.

“Nature 1” by Bella Kaplan from Israel is based on the agricultural area where she lives.

Nature 1

Nature 1

A large quilt, “Portrait Noir” by Trish Morris-Plise from Nevada City, California, is a self-portrait.  The names of people who are important in her life, as well as events and places, are quilted into this quilt.

Portrait Noir

Portrait Noir

The Art Pictoral category offers quilts that are amazingly life-like.  Here are some examples.

“The Big Dry” by Camilla Watson of New Zealand.  “The Big Dry” in Australia lasted from 1937 to 1947.  Rivers ceased to flow and dust storms raged.  Many property owners were forced to leave with whatever items they could carry.  This quilt was based on a photograph taken by the artist’s father.

The Big Dry

The Big Dry

“Lazy Afternoon” by Hiroko and Masanobu Miyama of Tokyo, Japan.

Lazy Afternoon

Lazy Afternoon

“Cat Tails” by Pat Durbin, Arcata, California is clever.  Love this!  A cat tail among cat tails…

Cat Tails

Cat Tails

“Ay-Cock-A-Doodle-Doo” by Deborah Bradley of Kingwood, Texas.  The artist’s dear friend had lost her father but still had all of his ties.  So the artist used the ties to create a memory quilt honoring her friend’s father, Byron Wolverton Aycock.



“The Venetian” by Jan Soules, Elk Grove, California, was inspired by the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.


“Wheat Field” by Melissa Burdon of New Zealand.

Wheat Field

Wheat Field

Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting and Traditional Applique category included:

“The A-E-I-O Ewes” by Janet Stone of Overland Park, Kansas, a beautiful and clever quilt.  The title came to her while lying awake in bed. 🙂  The fabrics are hand-dyed by her friend, Gilbert Muniz.

The A-E-I-O Ewes

The A-E-I-O Ewes

“Fruits of Labor” by Liza Harrison of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

The Fruits of Labor

The Fruits of Labor

“Fantasy Flower” by Keiko Ike, Kochi, Kochi, Japan.

Fantasy Flower

Fantasy Flower

“Z is for Zinnia, C is for Cosmos” by Kathie Kerler, Portland, Oregon.

Z is for Zinnia, C is for Cosmos

Z is for Zinnia, C is for Cosmos

Maybe it’s appropriate we end here with the z’s…  Say good-bye to our beautiful second home lobby

Hilton lobby

Hilton lobby

Say good-bye to our favorite relaxing spot by the water wall…


And although you can’t see it here, parallel to the water wall is a mega Starbucks!  You served us well, Starbucks–we’ll see you next year!

And now I deposit all my treasures on the cutting table, waiting for me to sift through, organize, and get busy!


Adventures in China

Adventures in China

Last month, Rick and I explored China via Viking Cruises.  In preparation, months ahead we secured our Chinese visas, studied our China travel book, and added two apps onto our phones.  One app (Google Translate) translates Chinese writing into English as you hold your camera to it, and also translates verbally.  Currency Calculator app displays the currency exchange from yuan to dollars and vice versa (as well as many other currencies around the world.)

China was the furthest we had ever traveled and the most culturally diverse.  What an educational experience!  We met wonderful people, laughed a lot, learned a lot, formed new friendships, and saw sights we had only viewed through books and screens.

Our guide, Ray, was Chinese.

Ray, our guide

Ray, our guide

Ray is married and has a sixteen year old daughter.  He was fun, knowledgeable, responsible, and made our life easy, sharing his own candid insights along the way.  I never heard him duck a question, and there were plenty from our lively group!

The accommodations in each city were fantastic.  Here is an example of our hotel in Beijing, a city of 22 million people.  I guess one of my surprises about China was how modern, commercial, and beautiful the cities are.

The Kerry Hotel - Beijing

The Kerry Hotel – Beijing

While unpacking, I turned on the TV and what do you know?  China’s version of America’s Got Talent!

Chinese TV

Our first group outing in Beijing was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Tiananmen Square is 100 acres and the world’s largest public square, including Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, which you see behind Rick.  We visited on Rick’s birthday. 🙂

Birthday Boy in Tiananmen Square

Birthday Boy in Tiananmen Square

As we continued into the Forbidden City, we noted a large portrait of Mao Zedong, which looks like a very large photograph but is actually a painting.

Entrance to Forbidden City

Entrance to Forbidden City

Close-up of Mao Zedong painting.

Close-up of Mao Zedong painting.

Chairman Mao died in 1976 but his portrait is prominent across China, especially offering nostalgia to the elderly Chinese who often revere the communist leader and what they feel were secure values.

Entrance to Forbidden City

Entrance to Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was a great work-out, covering 720,000 square acres, and it seemed we covered most of it!  This was the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1406 to 1911.

I want to say a word about restrooms…


Once inside the Forbidden City, we were offered our first public restroom stop.  We had all heard about “squatters” and had been told that most public restrooms did offer a few “Western” toilets.  There were a few younger ladies in our group who opted to try a “squatter” but the rest of us stood in the “Western” line. 🙂  When it was my turn for the “Western,” suddenly a Chinese lady who appeared to be in charge of the restroom held a “squatter” door open, motioned, and shouted at me in Chinese.  I could only surmise that she had said, “Get in here, you chicken woman!”  So, not to appear intimidated, I chose to experience a squatter on my first day in China and get it over with.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.  I will describe it for you.  It had a privacy door, as did all the toilets, thank goodness.  On the floor was something that resembled a shower pan and on the wall in front of me was a handle bar to hold when rising up.  I was wearing a dress, so I gave it my best shot.  I have bad knees.  It did not go well.  Messy and embarrassed, had we not all been pressed for time, I would have dug in my purse for pencil and paper and scribbled an Out of Order sign for future occupants.  The rest of the trip, I managed to snag a Western stall.

According to Ray, the Chinese regard Western toilets as unclean, because one person after another is sitting on that same space.  When asked what was in his home, he replied, “A Western toilet.”


Inside the Forbidden City


Corner Roof Detail

Corner Roof Detail

Ceiling Detail

Ceiling Detail

One issue we had to adjust to was jet lag due to a 12 hour time difference.  We were exhausted and yet in the evening we were entertained at the Red Theatre by a production of  The Legend of Kung Fu.



Our second day presented the main reason we traveled to China–The Great Wall.  Chinese mythology claims that evil spirits can only travel in a straight line, hence the winding, undulating engineering feat.


Once stretching for more than 6200 miles, the early 16th century Great Wall represented power and isolation.  Some sections today are in disrepair, but we were determined to conquer The Fourth Tower.  I had envisioned a very, very long meandering path.  And it was very, very long.  But not casually strolling flat…  We walked and then climbed, walked and climbed, to stone towers which would have housed a garrison of at least 100 soldiers.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

This picture portrays how steep the incline at various points.  Note the tourists hanging onto the rail both ascending and descending.  And the steps are varying sizes.


Our experienced guide insisted we arrive at the wall in the early morning hours when the temperature was cool and the people were few.  Wise move.  After an hour, we reached our goal:


Feeling elated and  victorious, we started back down, but I stopped to purchase a souvenir from this fascinating artist.


Right before my eyes, he used a small stylus tool to chisel the Great Wall of China into a block of granite!  I will always cherish this treasure.

Back on the bus, we had time for a short nap before stopping at a jade factory.  I did not realize that jade can present as colors other than green, including lavender and black.  Of course, we could shop, and I now have jade earrings. 🙂


Our last stop was the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs.  Thirteen emperors were buried in mausoleums in this valley. Here are just of few of the many huge but intricate sculptures.



That evening we were treated to a classic Chinese dish–Peking Duck carved tableside by our honorable chef at a famous Beijing restaurant.img_5077

One of the best outings was the day we enjoyed a rickshaw ride through Old Beijing.  Our caravan of rickshaws traveled on narrow alleyways through a quaint hutong neighborhood to a typical Chinese household.


There a lady and her niece described life in their tight-knit community.  The younger girl demonstrated her talent for painting scenes inside tiny glass bottles which were available for purchase.  Commerce is alive and well, even in Old Beijing. 🙂


Gentle neighborhood folk cherish their pets as we do.


We continued through the Bell and Drum Square where a renowned hacky sack expert wowed us with his skills.


And then we learned the art of tea service…  And yes, we purchased a tin of tea.


The next morning we flew to Xian, China, and checked into another fabulous hotel.

The Hilton Xi'an

The Hilton Xi’an

One of the world’s richest and biggest cities during the Tang Dynasty, Xian was once the capital of China.  Today it is most famous for the ancient Terra Cotta Warriors discovered in 1976 when a farmer was digging a well.  The emperor of the Tang Dynasty had thousands of warriors sculpted to accompany him and protect him in the afterlife.  A visit to this archaeological find allowed us to use elevated walkways to view more than 8,000 life-sized warriors, chariots, and horses.  Imagine a structure like an airplane hangar, only football fields long.  The excavation site is displayed in all stages–completed sculptures,



those in varying states of repair,



and even ditches where we viewed scattered remains yet to be meticulously pieced together.



The Terra Cotta Warriors site was one of the most fascinating displays I have ever seen in my entire life.

Later in the afternoon, we had time to take a walk around our hotel area, and since my friends and I play Mah Jongg, I was delighted to find groups playing this game of tiles that originated in China during the Qing Dynasty.



And then, another amazing find…Starbucks with translations on the menu! 🙂


In the evening we attended the Tang Dynasty dinner and show.



On the drive back, we glimpsed the brightly lit city wall,


and a beautiful community center.


The next day we flew to Chongqing, China’s most important inland city.  We boarded our ship for the Viking Cruise on the Yangtze River.  As we sailed away, the city sights were breathtaking.




Our first excursion from the ship was to Shibaozhai, China, where we visited a twelve story pagoda and climbed an interior spiral staircase to the revered temple.  First we crossed a swinging bridge.



The Shibaozhai Temple

The Shibaozhai Temple


View from the top

View from the top

That night as we sailed again, we traveled under a stunning bridge that changed color.



The following day offered the Lesser Three Gorges Excursion.  We boarded a small sampan boat that cruised us into the most beautiful canyon with dramatic steep sides draped in lush greenery.




We could see the hanging coffins of the Ba people.  Yes, they buried people on the mountainside.


Honestly, I believe that was my favorite part of the whole trip.  So very beautiful and relaxing.  Or maybe it was just because it was one of the few times I remember seeing sunshine.  Think I was having sunshine deprivation.

Back on the ship, we could watch painting demonstrations,


or even take Mah Jongg classes.


The next excursion was to the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.


And that night we entered a series of locks.


The massive doors closed behind us.img_5532

Luckily, I am not claustrophobic.  Several other boats were in the locks with us at the same time.


Since I am a retired teacher, I loved our next excursion to an elementary school in Jingzhou, China.  Viking sponsors the school and the children loved performing for us.  Their giggles and friendships proved that children are the same the world over.  They could just as well have been my former fourth grade students.




One of the most appealing aspects of the five days on the ship was the traffic on the river.  I was not expecting to see other boats and ships all day and night long.  Nice surprise.  Small boats to container ships–I love them all!  Some nights I would wake up, go out on our little balcony, and watch the ships go by. 🙂



Before we disembarked, we were invited to visit the ship’s bridge.  Right up my alley, er… river.



In Wuhan, China, we visited the Hubei Museum and listened to the lovely chimes and bells performance.


We flew on to Shanghai, China, where our last hotel was even more spectacular.


The Westin Bund, Shanghai

Night view from our room.

Night view from our room.

The hotel was located by the famous Bund district, the city’s elegant riverfront promenade.


Shanghai is the largest city in China, 25 million people, a modern metropolis and center of finance.  Here are some building views across the river, including the second tallest building in the world, and the building Tom Cruise swung from in “Mission Impossible.”


Second tallest building in the world.


We struck out on our own for an evening river tour, but first we grabbed a bite at McDonald’s with a touch menu. 🙂


Shanghai’s after dark skyline.



We strolled the winding paths and narrow lanes of Old Shanghai, shopped, then stopped for lunch at a delicious dim sum restaurant.




After lunch we stopped at a silk carpet and embroidery workshop to witness an ancient craft.  The carpets seen hanging in the background were created by the loom process the young lady is crafting in the foreground.


Although the following works of art look like paintings, they are actually fine silken threads embroidered onto silk fabric.





In the evening we marveled at a breathtaking show by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe.



A perfect way to bring our thirteen day tour to a close.  We jetted the 15 hour trip home filled with fabulous memories!