A Wet Week of Hand Stitching

Good morning! I missed you guys! Did you miss me? We could get just a sliver of cell signal when we were out on the beach this past week, but in the RV...Nada. Zilch. Nothing. We were unplugged. 

As expected, it rained almost the entire time we were gone this past week. No worries though. I spent my time hand-stitching. Mike read his books, and the kitties were busy on woofie patrol. Smitty took the first watch:

Sadie took the second:

But let's just back up a few days, shall we? Before we left home, I finished off the final section for "I Believe in Snowmen." I'll be sewing all the sections of the quilt together eventually, but don't hold your breath until then. There are a few quilts in line ahead of it.

Since I worried I'd run out of hand-stitching, I went ahead and traced out the first section for Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. You might recall I needed some muslin to back these stitcheries. As it turned out, I had just enough muslin in my stash to piece together a backing for this first section. Since then, another 4-1/2 yards of muslin have been delivered to my front door.

I wanted to show you my new "sewing cabinet" in the RV. This cabinet above the couch had bicycle helmets, backpacks, water bottles, and umbrellas. I convinced Mike to find a space in the underbelly of the RV to make better use of the cabinet. "Better use." Exactly.

Now it will hold at least two of my "project bins," and at least three of the shoebox sized bins I like for embroidery projects. This new space will be very handy for longer trips.

So we headed off Tuesday morning. You might recall there's a tall scary bridge in Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River. It's long and tall and especially scary when towing an RV. Checking the weather forecast, we found there were gusts of wind up to 65 mph there, and so we opted to go up Interstate 5 and cross the river in downtown Portland. 

From there, we traveled up the Washington side of the Columbia River. There were a few moments with sun breaks and blue sky, but mostly, it rained the whole time.

We weren't disappointed though. We expected this. And when you're heading to a place called "Cape Disappointment," your expectations are never very high.

We do love this park though. It has full hook-ups, lots of space between sites, and an easy walk out to the beach. There was a break in the rain when we were set up, and so we walked out to the beach right away. For as many times as I've seen the North Head lighthouse, you might think I'd get tired of taking pictures of it. Nope. I take pictures every single time.

Looking in the other direction, the next downpour was coming.

See those gelatinous blobs there on the beach? Those were jellyfish blown onto the beach by the storm. The place was littered with driftwood too.

We didn't stay on the beach long. With rain coming, and a furiously cold wind blowing, the RV sounded warm and cozy. Mike bought a potted mum plant just before we left, and it was a bright spot on an otherwise dreary and dark day.

In other reorganizing efforts, I'd run out of space for my shot glass collection. Yes, we carry *all* of the shot glasses when we travel. It would be bad luck to try paring them down (she said). So, I went on the hunt for a shelving apparatus that would contain them and give me a new lease on my shot glass collecting life. I found a shelf that would fit, and then Mike zip-tied some little baskets to the top. The shot glasses are packed in egg cartons to cushion them on bumpy rides. The whole top shelf is full.

But you can see there are still plenty of open slots on the bottom shelf. We simply must do more traveling. 

The kitties snuggled down in their quilts, and they were happy campers. There's always lots of lap time in the RV.

When we're in the fifth wheel, everyone has a place to sit too.

They absolutely love their kitty perches. It's a rare thing to purchase something for a cat and have the cat actually use it.

I was itching to get going on a new baking project. If you've been following for several years, you might recall I tried this when we made our USA Perimeter tour. I wrote about the recipe and my first attempt at some length here. When it didn't work out, I tried again, and wrote about my second attempt here. And it still wasn't right. Recently, I discovered a do-over from Cook's Country. Now, armed with a better recipe that did away with the now-defunct parts of the original recipe and a better pan to bake it in, I couldn't wait to try again. Cook's Country made the full-up 12-cup pan version. I wanted to adapt it to make it a "for two" recipe. It baked up nicely.

It had to cool for some time (3-1/2 hours altogether) before I could add the glaze. So far, so good.

I'm using a tupperware lid for my cake plate, and I covered it with the bottom of a glass casserole dish to make a super fancy cake display.

The recipe was good, but I was unsure about the baking time. Since mine is a smallified version, and because I was using the RV convection oven, I was guessing about how long to bake it. As it turns out, this was overbaked by about five minutes. The "tunnel of fudge" was missing from the center, and so what I had was a dense chocolate bundt cake. It was good, but still not the cake I'm trying to achieve.

We had it with a scoop (or maybe two) of vanilla ice cream. Yummy. The best part of a failed attempt is the practicing, and so I'll try this again soon. I'm determined to get this right. You can count on me sharing the recipe as soon as I have it perfected.

On the second day (Wednesday) I finished the binding on Mulligan Stew. I started this quilt on April 15, 2013, and finished on November 18, 2020. Hardly any time at all, right? I hope it never takes me this long to make a quilt again. It was handy to have my quilt holder-upper along.

It took a long time because I was slow working on it, but also because I got overwhelmed with projects some years ago, and put several on the back burner, including this one. Then, in a moment of insanity, I decided to hand quilt it. It cried out for hand quilting, and I'm not sorry I decided to do it, but it did postpone the finish significantly.

Okay, so Thursday morning, the weather improved some. We dressed warmly and took another little walk on the beach. Even with sunshine, the wind was fierce, and so we didn't stay long. Our shadow selves came along for this little walk. They were as excited to see the lighthouse as we were. I love those patterns in the sand.

We walked a little closer before turning around and heading back.

Along the way, I spotted the rarest of sights...an intact sand dollar. I thought about picking it up and keeping it, but then decided to let it lie. It can be a surprise for the next person. And if it's still alive, maybe a wave will carry it back where it belongs.

Also, I noticed this big mushroom outside our RV door. This is amanita muscaria, and they are common in these parts.

I was going to say they are deadly poisonous, but Wikipedia tells me:

[R]eports of human deaths resulting from A. muscaria ingestion are extremely rare. After parboiling twice with water draining—which weakens its toxicity and breaks down the mushroom's psychoactive substances—it is eaten in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. All Amanita muscaria varieties, but in particular A. muscaria var. muscaria, are noted for their hallucinogenic properties, with the main psychoactive constituents being the neurotoxins ibotenic acid and muscimol. A local variety of the mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the indigenous peoples of Siberia and by the S├ími, and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on possible traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in other places such as the Middle East, Eurasia, North America, and Scandinavia.

Think I'll pass, just the same. Besides, mushroom picking is strictly forbidden in the state park.

Okay, so the weather cleared up Thursday afternoon, and we had a nice day sight-seeing. I took so many pictures, I thought it best to break this "return to civilization" into two blog posts. I'll come back tomorrow to tell you what we saw while we were out exploring the area. Although we've been to Cape Disappointment many times, we still saw some things that were new to us. Also, I have more stitching to show you.

I'll spend the rest of today unpacking the RV, although there isn't much to do there, and getting myself reorganized. There are still plenty of days left in the month, and so I'm going to get back to working on Jenny's Flower Garden when I get back to the sewing room. The last time I worked on it, it looked like this:

I still need to make two more rows of blocks before it will be ready to sew together. Since I put off housework until we got back, it's time to pay the piper there too. 

Also, I'm sad to say that we were terribly responsible and canceled our family Thanksgiving get-together. We were only five, but from three households. After talking by phone, we decided it wasn't worth the risk, and so we'll be celebrating separately this year. It was a hard decision to make, but we all agreed we'd hate to see anyone get sick. With the virus raging, it just isn't a good idea. And, all of that to say that I'm planning a small feast for the two of us here at home.

So, there's lots to keep me busy today. Come back tomorrow, and I'll show you some pictures of Cape Disappointment and the surrounding little town of Ilwaco, Washington.


Barbara said...

Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other. ~ Virginia Woolf

Cathy Smith said...

A wise decision on crossing the bridge at Astoria! I had to chuckle at the woofie patrol photos - Smitty's ears say it all! Yes, the holidays will be a bit of a bummer this year. I just look at it with the attitude that it's better to cautious this year and and have a whiz bang celebration with EVERYONE next year!

Julierose said...

We will be just we two also for thanksgiving this year.....
I absolutely love your Jenny's Flower garden quilt--It is one of my favorites that you have made...
Such gorgeous colors against that white...lovely work
Hugs from afar, glad you are back in blogland, Julierose

gpc said...

Quilts = amazing, Jenny is going to be a beauty and you know how much I love the Mulligan. I always envy your mad skills, but what I really envy today is the beach walk. I always loved seeing jellies when they blew up on the beach, and horseshoe crabs, although I was a little bit sad about them I was always far more fascinated than sad. One year I saw dozens of stranded man o'wars on a beach walk, the coolest thing ever in a creepy kind of way. The sand dollar is definitely not alive, but it will for sure provide a thrill to some other walker like me. We have also cancelled Thanksgiving and expect to cancel Christmas, too, since there is no real reason to expect things to change for the better by then. But we remind ourselves pretty often that we are lucky to have phones and zoom and facetime and not have to wait for months to exchange letters.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Missed you , but knew you were on your rainy trip. Congrats on truly finishing Mulligan - yeah! I had originally planned TD with my daughter's family but they are in quarentine due to school break out. My sister was goin to take Mom to a drive thru TD sponsored by the church - that's cancelled. Besides, she is not up to anything - we will be home alone.

Jayne Jacobson said...

I enjoy reading your blog. Glad that you are back home safely. Can't wait for your cake recipe. Cooking for one is so hard.

Cathy said...

Like almost everyone I know, we are spending Thanksgiving alone, too. We’ve got some easy and different versions of traditional foods all lined up, and between that, the fireplace, sewing and the kitties, it should be a nice day. Congrats on finishing Mulligan Stew! It’s wonderful.

Lyndsey said...

Good decision on Thanksgiving but it is hard not to meet up with family. I am very lucky that two of our grown up children live with us but it is looking like we won't meet up with Katy and her partner for Christmas. You trip away sounds fun despite the weather. I would love to get away for a few days.

Joan G said...

Love your Mulligan Stew and Jenny’s Flower Garden quilts! Just beautiful! The Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe sure brought back memories for me - I used to make that cake when our boys were little. I might have to dust off the Bundt pan and give it a go. Our youngest son loves flourless chocolate cake and here is a link to the recipe I use, which ironically comes from the King Arthur flour site, now known as King Arthur Baking, https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe We have also scaled down our Thanksgiving, which as you said, was extremely hard to do. We usually host about a dozen relatives, many over 70, so not going to chance it this year.

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Wonderful photos, I could feel the chill from the rain and the cozy warmth inside. You'll just have to keep baking chocolate cakes, dirty job but someone has to do it.

Debbie said...

I was just missing you yesterday and remembered you're traveling. I do enjoy living vicariously through your adventures.

My cats have been enjoying the giant box that arrived this week.

I hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving.

Debbie Reaves
Weaver, Alabama

Sherry said...

Glad you are back. My blog reading time was significantly shortened in you absence. Looks like the kitties had a good time too. I will be watching for the revised recipe for the cake. Looks like the type of cake I have been craving. We have also decided to distance for Thanksgiving. Just not the time to let down our guard even though it is very tempting.

piecefulwendy said...

I did miss you - actually went and checked your blog to make sure I wasn't missing posts, and then remembered you were likely unplugged. I recall that the kids had fun on a teeter totter on the Cape Disappointment beach; it had been made out of logs that had washed up on shore (maybe??). Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the beach again. It's such a lovely spot!

Karrin Hurd said...

Loved seeing the lighthouse and your lovely projects. The cake looks absolutely yummy!

MissPat said...

I saw an Instagram post yesterday, so I knew you had made it home safely. You definitely need to keep working on that chocolate cake until you perfect it. And then you'll have to make it again to be sure it wasn't a fluke. I see that today's post is up, so after folding laundry I'll be off to see the sights of Cape Disappointment. (I get your posts by email, so I'm usually a day behind unless I read it in the afternoon when the link to Newer Post shows up).

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Yes I missed you (and the kitties!). Sounds like you had a great trip - weather notwithstanding. That's a great lighthouse too. And I don't think the name 'Disappointment' should fit this place - it's far too nice for that. Your cake looks wonderful - it's a recipe I've never been able to master either.

QuiltGranma said...

My sister and her family enjoyed many happy camping trips to Cape Disappointment. I have yet to get there. Thank you for sharing so I can vicariously enjoy the place too.