Retreat Roundup

It’s time for a retreat recap. But first I thought I would make good on my promise regarding Blanche’s pin cushion.  However, I do need to put a bit of a little disclaimer on it.  You’ll understand in just a second.  Here are the pictures of her pin cushion.       See what I mean about being super organized?  Here’s the disclaimer.  See all those yellow and white pins in the second picture?  That USED to be ONLY yellow pins.  However Blanche decided to shake thing up a bit and mix the yellow and white pins of the same head size.  Really, check it out, they are all organized by the pin heads.  Does your pin cushion look like that?  You have to share pictures if it does.  Really, you absolutely do.  It’s a requirement.

Okay, back to our retreat shenanigans.  We had lots going on this retreat.  Inez and Ruby were unable to be with us so we had to soldier on without them.  It wasn’t a total hardship but they were missed.  Hazel, Sandra Dee, and I were on for dinner the first night.  We love to cook on the first day so that we can get it over with and just enjoy sewing and goofing off.  Wait, did I really say goofing off?  Well, I suppose that’s just being honest.  We had it all planned out that we were going to make lasagna.  Well, I should say that Sandra Dee was going to make lasagna.  Hazel was handling dessert and I was bringing in garlic bread and an antipasto platter.  We always have a lot of salad so I was looking for something a little different.  I can hear Sandra Dee and Hazel groaning now. Well, they can’t groan too much, they had to know this would “make the blog”.  “Make the blog” has become our new catch phrase any time anyone does, well, anything.  However, I knew that something was up when I met Sandra Dee at our local Hardee’s for breakfast and as we were walking in she said something about tortillas.  I suppose I should mention here that I had just had a birthday and you know how the monkeys are, no good deed goes unpunished.  I also know that I have been a big part of some of the bigger shenanigans and sometimes you just have to be the good sport.  So, I just kind of ignored her comment figuring that they had something up their sleeves.  I was right about that.  I just didn’t know what.

As I said, I celebrated a birthday just before this retreat and it was one of the bigger ones.  I turned 40.  Yep, I knew that was something that would not go unnoticed.  I should also mention that I am currently expecting.  Yep, 40 and pregnant.  Does it get any better than that?  Seriously, we are very excited for the new small person that shall be joining our family (and of course the monkey tribe) this winter.  Anyway, Hazel decided to send her husband on a reconnaissance mission to talk to my husband to find out what was pleasing to my palate.  Number one: Spaghetti.  Can’t get enough of it.  Tacos also go well, too.  However, someone had already booked spaghetti and that’s why we had lasagna.  Hazel and Sandra Dee decided that since someone was doing spaghetti that we should do tacos.  Only, they didn’t tell me that they were switching to tacos.  So, here we had garlic bread and an antipasto platter (cured Italian meats, cheese, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, you know…) and they brought taco meat, shells, and all the trimmings.  It all goes together doesn’t it?  It was a very interesting meal.

However, dessert was the main event.

  Dessert started with this.  Don’t you like the tiara?  I do.  Every woman should have one. They are even better when they light up.    It ended with this.  Lovely cupcakes.  Prune juice.  Tootsie Pops.  And of course a ceramic monkey with a strategically placed nut cracker.  Sandra Dee and her finds at Goodwill, you just never know what she is going to show up with.  He may just have to make regular appearances at further retreats.


Sandra Dee and Hazel also had monkey plates and ice cream and monkey party hats.  Yeah, it was a lot of fun and we laughed a ton and many photos were taken.  It was a good celebration.  I love my friends.  I think I’ll just bask in the warm glow that comes with knowing there are people out there that really care about you and do some crazy things to show it.  All in the name of friendship and good fun.  Don’t worry though. There are more retreat stories to be told.



The second time we went to visit Blanche and the invention of the Drunken Monkey

I know what you are wondering – didn’t we “invent” drunken monkeys on our first trip to visit Blanche?  Technically I suppose you could say yes to that, but this is a different kind of Drunken Monkey.

Considering how well the first visit to Blanche’s home went, we decided we had better do a second take so we could erase the hangover memories (or perhaps add to them?) from the first event.  We had the same crew as we did the previous year; Hattie, Ruby, and myself.  And of course Blanche.  We once again descended upon (met up at) the same quilt shop that we did before only this time they weren’t as surprised to see us.  Or at least they did not appear to be as surprised as they did last time.  I suspect that they regaled their customers with tales of our previous visit and were now waiting with bated breath for more foibles that they could retell to more customers.  Maybe we were good for business (and not just by the money we spent there).  It makes us feel better to think this way, as though we are not complete nut jobs but instead we are providing a service.

Of course we greeted each other with our usual high-pitched monkey calls and quickly got to the business of shopping.  This time we opted to not visit other shops on the way to Blanche’s and Blanche decided that *just in case* things were to get rowdy in the evening perhaps we should have a lighter load of shops to visit the following day.  I would also like to mention here that Mr. Blanche took this opportunity to vacate the premises most likely thinking that there would be a repeat performance or perhaps just thinking that he would prefer to be away from our monkey shenanigans.

I know what you are waiting to hear, but I’m going to make you wait just a little bit longer.

Ruby and I decided that we needed to do something for the group like when we did an impromptu birthday party to give Ruby a pinata.  We settled on a mini spa evening and proceeded to raid the beauty supply stores and Walgreens before our trip.  The lady in Walgreens was very interested in the mini-spa packs we were creating and proceeded to give us more free samples than we could hold.  Really, that was all we needed, but we also decided to pick up some green mud mask and some teeth whitening strips (mainly because we were curious to see if they really worked).  We put little bags together for everyone and prepared ourselves for a night of spa-like relaxation.  After all, that is what monkeys do.  Relax in a spa-like atmosphere.

We got settled comfortably after dinner and I brought out my new DSLR camera.  I was ready to go and Hattie obliged me by helping to test out the rapid shot feature.  She would chew and I would take her picture.  I think I have around 50 of those, but I won’t bore you with how exaggerated Hattie can chew.  It’s enough to know that she does a really good job.  Okay, I had to sneak just one in.  Just for fun.  Sorry Hattie.    Ruby had to join in on the fun too.  She also does a good job with exaggerated chewing. 

We soaked our feet and buffed and polished our nails and tried out the teeth whitening strips (we didn’t really see what all the fuss was about but I suppose if we did more than one treatment we might have gotten excited about our teeth being whiter).  We had a lot of fun with all of our free samples and then moved on to the facial mask.  I did mention it was green right?  Have you done these?  It is safe to say that none of us use this product on a regular basis.  The primary reason for that is that you begin to feel like you face has become encased in green concrete.  Not kidding there.  Maybe the big draw for some of them is how relieved you feel after you remove the mask and can smile and talk again.  Did our skin feel smoother? Well, sure it did but most anything feels smoother than concrete.

  Here is Blanche enjoying a foot soak.    Here I am trying out the teeth whitening strips.  Can you see them working?

  Here we are when we first put the mask on.  It looks like such a nice cool minty green doesn’t it?  It was still flexible enough for us to smile.

  Here we are a few minutes later after our faces started to freeze up.  Okay, my face didn’t really stay that way, but we certainly lost a lot of mobility once the nice minty green concrete dried.

Blanche was also thinking ahead for us and picked up a bartender’s guide.  (See, I knew this was the part you were waiting for.)  Did we drink, not really.  Maybe one.  Not more than that.  Please don’t be too disappointed.  After all, we learned a valuable lesson the previous visit concerning the correlation between increasing age and decreasing alcohol tolerance.  Although, we may have just been seriously out of practice.  We did have a good time going through the bartender guide but then we would remember how “wonderful” we felt the next morning and we didn’t really want to experience that again. *shudder*  However it was at this point that Ruby and I decided that we needed a Drink.  Not to drink, a Drink for the group.  Something that would symbolize us like a flag or a crest, only in the form of something liquid and tasty and that would lower our already low inhibitions. Because we need help with that.  Something we made up with a fun monkey moniker.  Ruby asked what do they call vodka over ice?  I said, vodka on the rocks.  No, Ruby said, what name does it have?  Ruby, I told her, it is called vodka on the rocks.  Vodka without the rocks is vodka neat.  Ruby said, maybe that could be our drink and we could give it a monkey name.  Hmmmm….I don’t think any of us is terribly interested in drinking straight vodka so we moved on to something else.  Chocolate liqueur.  To be specific, Godiva Chocolate liqueur.  When mixed with 99 Bananas (or another banana schnapps you don’t want to use a creme de banana as the banana flavor isn’t strong enough) and blended with vanilla ice cream, you will have what we call a Drunken Monkey.  I think that was the biggest decision that we made this weekend.  What kind of drink should the monkeys have that is all theirs.  Now you know and can even try at home.  The sad part is that we didn’t really try it out at Blanche’s but I did work it out when we got home, because I’m helpful that way.  It is pretty tasty.  Of course you can’t really go wrong when you add in ice cream or chocolate.

Did we shop?  Yes.  And this time we had the added bonus of remembering the shops we went to as well as being able to really enjoy them.  I don’t think that we really remembered much about our first trip to Beachy’s, but we sure did enjoy it this time!

The first place Blanche took us too was a nature park.  I know, it seems a little out of the ordinary for us, but it really was pretty cool.  There was a really nice bird watching area with lots of feeders and places for birds to sit.  I had my new camera with me and decided to try a shot or two since I now had interchangeable lenses.   I believe these are finches but they could be chickadees.  I’m not so good on the bird identifying.  Either way, they were kind enough to sit still so I could snap a photo.

After the nature park we headed into a town that has a high Amish/Mennonite population and they have a bulk grocery store.  Have you ever shopped at one of these?  If not and you like to cook or bake you really should.  Actually, if you enjoy seasoning your food you should try one of these because you can pick up herbs and spices for a song.  We went a little bit crazy there because we were able to pay more attention to our surroundings.  Next we headed to an Amish Dry Goods Store.  They had Batiks for less than $7 a yard.  Yep, you heard that right.  Less than $7 a yard.  They were the tone on tone solid type but at that price it doesn’t really matter.  It was a very interesting place to shop because there were bolts upon bolts of fabric and it was gas lighting.  So, if you really wanted a good look at the colors of the fabric you were eyeballing you would need to take it to a window to get a true sense of the colors.  It took us quite a while in this shop because there were bolts of fabric everywhere.  Piled high on the shelves, stacked deep on the floors.  It took a lot of time to go through everything because you just didn’t want to miss out on a great opportunity or a great price.  Even at these great prices they also had a sale table and I was able to find Northcott on the sale table.  I also found Kona Bay in the regular price.  I have a penchant for Asian fabrics so I couldn’t pass those up.

Blanche had one more shop that she wanted us to check out and so we headed that way.  However, as with any group we thought we knew more than we did and could take some shortcuts.  Or at least, at the time we thought they would be short cuts.  In reality it turned out to be a more scenic path with lovely views of corn fields.  We eventually made our way out of the wilderness and back home where we rested and laughed and ate and enjoyed each other’s company.  Of course we also had a bit of show and tell where we could show off our purchases.  I know, we were together all day how could we not know what the other was buying.  While it is true you may hear us in the store saying things like, Oh my gosh come see this its beautiful, or has anyone found the sale room yet, we typically do not check out all at the same time.  The greater part of our time in quilt shops is spend wandering and fondling fabric according to our own personal tastes.  Sure we overlap in areas, but we aren’t holding hands as we check over every bolt of fabric in the shop.  It can be a bit of a surprise when showing off our purchases to each other.  Often you will hear a comment of where did you find that and how did I miss it?  You will also hear, ha ha I bought the last of the bolt. Before you think we are totally awful often times that will be followed by do you want some?

It was so much nicer this trip to be able to enjoy the shops and not be feeling sick.  Of course our weekend came to a close all too soon and before we knew it Hattie, Ruby, and I were packed and loaded back in the car waving good-bye to Blanche and making high-pitched monkey noises through the car windows as we left her drive.  Thankfully she doesn’t have any close by neighbors who will be scarred from the experience.

We are now back from our fall retreat where I had to confirm which trip to Blanche’s led us to driving in the country.  Blanche has since assured me that she really did know the way and that we weren’t lost at all.  Either way, we did make it back to her home to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  I know, I know.  It’s been a while and I shouldn’t wait so long and did I mention back from retreat?  Surely there are some stories there.  Yes, yes there are so stay tuned as I take some time to download pictures from my camera and check my notes.