Best Vacay Ever!!!

In the words of my granddaughter, our trip to Club Med in Ixtapa was the best. She is right.

We went there 28 years ago. That’s me, with Erez and Elk.

Erez grew up, Aytan is probably around the same age his father was then.

On the flight out, Aytan got to check out the cockpit, does he look like a happy kid? No worries, they didn’t let him stay there to actually fly the plane.

Then we arrived in paradise. The resort in a cove with a small island that blocks most of the wind and waves. So the water is warm, calm and delightful. One of the few places where I enjoy going into the Pacific Ocean. The beaches in Cabo aren’t great and the water is colder. Although the water in Puerto Vallarta is warm, the beaches aren’t great. Hawaii has good beaches, but a 3 hour vs. 5 hour flight…

There were photographers on staff taking a lot of pictures, Shira was a favorite subject. I got plenty of my own.

This post is mostly us, there will be others. I did bring my nice camera, but only took it out occasionally.

This is the view from our room, can you see how hazy and blurry it is. That is because it was extremely hot and humid. Took me a few days to adjust. My camera wasn’t very happy either. So I didn’t take it out much. Certainly not if I thought I’d be sitting by the beach. The humidity is bad enough, I didn’t want and involved.

The bathtub, um, I mean the pool was nice for the kids. There were two side by side, a baby pool and the larger one that was maybe 4′.

Best thing I bought there was this pool ring. Aytan figured out that he could use it in the ocean, (sorry, not pictures), which was really great because he isn’t really swimming yet and that afforded him so much freedom. Oh and all the guys ended up getting Club Med Swim shirts.

Shira had a blast!

So did Aytan! With all his issues, there were concerns, but he did amazingly well. I have to commend the Kid Club, Tuki-Tuki. They were incredible! The kids usually spent the mornings with us and the afternoons in the club. They handled Aytan very well. He even loved going in the evening to the kid club events.

Having Shira participate in a song and dance performance is expected. We loved the fact that Aytan went and danced as well. Nothing better than seeing my grandson improve, grow and develop. He really had a great time.

Because the grandkids did so well, their parents had an amazing time as well. They were able to do their own thing as well as just revel in how well the kids were doing. It was a much deserved vacation for them. While there they got some very good news about Aytan and his schooling for next year. Fighting the system tooth and nail for over five years is paying off.

I love how the camera caught Shira the second she let go of the arrow. You can even see it in flight. And this was on my phone camera!

Aside from a great location, Club Med does an incredible job. The food was fresh, very tasty and a little too plentiful… we all over ate. The GOs, which is what the staff is called are amazing. Often they would sit with us at a meal so we got a chance to meet people from all over. There was a group of college students from a Hotel management school in Montreal, they are all going to go far. There were people from Australia, all over Mexico and Haiti. Sure they are trained to be welcoming, but they embrace it gladly. I was super impressed with the kids councilors, every week a new batch of kids, every day different kids show up and yet they managed them all so well.

I know how blessed I am in my life. I am grateful for everything and am so glad we could take our kids and grandkids on this amazing adventure.

Leah

I finished a knitting project

I’m not knitting as much as I used to, which is sort of funny. One of my quilting friends has no sewing mojo and is knitting like crazy! But I did finish the shawl I was knitting out of my Chilean merino yarn.

I sort of adapted the pattern because, the pattern called for sport weight yarn and I was knitting with bulky. Also, it was yarn chicken the whole way since I had no idea how much I needed. I’m happy to say I won, without much left over.

Then the shawl fell off the fence, so I took a picture where it lay.

Then I went all creative. My hibiscus has shared at least twice as many blooms this year than any year in the past! Thank you winter rains!

My selfie stick died, my arms aren’t quite long enough. I’d have to set up the tripod to get an image from the back.

OK, that is a little better, I think you get a better idea of the shawl. And now, it will live in a drawer for months, probably until December. This is very warm wool and it’s gotten hot. Sure I’ll wear a shawl when it’s cool, but this time of year – linen, not heavy wool.

My Slimline Daylight arrived!! Here we go, an image in natural daylight, no lights on.

Compare and contrast! Look how bright this is!

Now, I need to start working on quilting the boy quilt!

Leah

I finished a quilt!

Look at all this space! It is wonderful, no drag on the quilt, it really does make quilting much easier.

I used the quilting stitch to enhance the design. Especially adding some ‘lace’ at the bottom of the skirt.

While putting this quilt together, I realized that the bow just doesn’t stand out enough, but I didn’t want to remake it. Leaving it completely unquilted does help.

The girl is done, now to figure out the background.

My design wall is upstairs, so I still check out block placement on the floor… but it is nice to pin something up and step away. One thing I noticed, when quilting the feather I was filling them in. I forgot to fill in one feather and it looks so much better, it pops out from the background – duh!

So I went back and ripped out the internal stitches. Also, how cool is mirror image?

Here you can see better how the feathers pop more. Yes, after taking this picture I went back and removed some more stitches. The only ruler work was setting up the diamond. The background grid is done freehand, no need to work with rulers.

This isn’t an art quilt, at some point I’ll give it to a baby girl. So with the binding I used a decorative stitch. It sort of echos what I did on the bottom of the skirt – win!

Just a closer look.

The back, I named her Sassy Girl. Now someone needs to have a baby girl…

Leah

Dog adoption downtown

Pershing Square gets a lot of activity these days. Last weekend they had dog adoption event. Makes sense since there are so many dog owners downtown.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense, if there are so many dog owners, they don’t need more dogs…

I think the images of the dogs that I got were with their owners, not being adopted. I did see the tent with dogs, but I didn’t go take pictures. Is this what I call the Hush puppy dog??? Remember that shoe company?

Look at this beauty, love those spots.

This isn’t a dog! No, not a dog, also not up for adoption. I think his owner just wanted to take him out in the sun and show him off. Also, does he care about the stuffed toy? Probably not. Oh, he’s an iguana.

She was petting him like a dog. I guess those nails as well as the tip of his tail are really sharp cuz he has nail protectors.

I can totally see how an iguana or other large lizard would be the perfect model for dragons. My goodness all those textures, I wish I had spent more time studying this guy.

See what I mean, not a lot of people. Meanwhile, the contstruction on the lot next to the Title Guarantee building is almost complete. It’s not as tall as I though. It does wrap around the Title Guarantee and the side facing Hill St isn’t as tall. It has been interesting watching it be built.

Leah

Cacti are amazing plants

I went to a local cactus show and sale. I find cacti and succulents to be such interesting plants. They aren’t necessarily the easiest to grow, which is why I really enjoy a good show.

Lets start with the show, everything about these has to be perfect, the container, if there are stones, how they are arranged and of course the more unique the better. I don’t think there is any grating going on here, I may be wrong. Talk about a sport! That term means a one of a kind unique variation. I have never seen anything like this.

Sorry about the rock in the background, it does interfere with the plant. I was sort of in a rush and was just snapping pictures on the phone. This is definitely a graft.

This won an award. I guess if you know cacti well you can really see which ones stand out. Can you tell that I really love color?

Not just color, also texture. I’m pretty sure this is a graft as well.

I love the barrels, this one is just so unusual.

Both color and texture here. You know that cacti are the basis for all the weirdness in SciFi movies. they really do look like aliens . I don’t think the yellow one is grafted, which means it’s not a sport. Nature abhors sports – they can’t survive on their own, which is why they have to be grafted on a very healthy base that can support them.

These two are in the twisted category. What was really cool was that outside among the vendors, look what I found:

How cool is this one! Almost as good as the show piece. BTW, 420, that is the price, in dollars. When these plants are your passion, you pay.

The rest of the images were plants for sale. Many have name tags, or they are in simple plastic pots.

I call these guys plaid barrels. The first time I ever saw one was at my Son in law’s dads house. They have the most amazing succulent garden. Some standard, a lot of unusual plants.

Don’t mess with this one. Maybe the thorns aren’t sharp, but I didn’t want to find out.

Both of these fascinate me, the dark bulbs of course, but look at the one behind, it’s a barrel with a tall hairy shaft.

As forbidding and thorny as cacti can be, the flowers are often so delicate. I think there is a lesson there, about being tenacious with the ability to be soft.

I bought these two for my son in law, he has the succulent bug. Most of what he has is pretty standard, so I wanted to get something unique. These two are small they will grow, actually in the next picture you will see how big the front one can get.

I like that the vendor will sell a large expensive plant for those who have no patience, as well as a smaller one, that Yoch can nurture and watch it grow.

Leah

How not to treat customers

Most of my posts have a lot of pictures and few words. This will be the opposite. Six months ago I got some money from my mother’s inheritance. It was time to really treat myself well. I wanted to upgrade my sewing room from a hodgepodge of cheap furniture to nice quality tables. Before I had much of a chance to do research, a friend mentioned that a local store was having a sale on Koala Tables at a 20% discount. (the sale was from Koala itself). Of course I had heard great things about Koala tables, so I went in to place an order. First disappointment – the most popular table, the one that held two sewing machines is no longer being made. Since I could treat myself nicely, I ordered two sewing machine tables, as well as a cutting table from Horn, a different company.

Originally I was going to get the cutting table in white, well, Horn decided no more white, so it took a little longer to arrive. I never looked at their tables, because of the Koala deal and the fact that Koala has a very good reputation. Their tables do, little did I realize that their service is awful. Right now the table is only open half way, I have to figure out if there is any way I can open it further, who knows, that may only happen when I have a very large project on hand.

I was told that the Koala tables would take between two and three months to arrive. Fine, I can wait. At about six weeks I got a call confirming what was on my order. They only had an order for one table. Btw, that was the last I heard from them. Since I hadn’t purchased this on my own, I went back to the store and sure enough, they said they’d handle it. They couldn’t understand why I got the phone call, since the order came from them. So yeah, they hadn’t noticed that there were two orders….

This is the Cub, a smaller table that holds one machine. One thing about these tables is the electronic lift. I can choose the height of the machine, or, I can lower the machine, and use an insert for the table to be completely flat.

Months go by, an acrylic insert shows up at my house, along with a letter saying that my cabinets/tables have been ordered. At this point I’m thinking, it won’t be long. Boy was I wrong.

With the flick of a button or with a remote, the machine goes up and down.

So there were more calls to Koala, what is going on? They gave excuses like backorder and production running late. This was the moment I realized two things. Capitalism is wonderful – if you have a lot of competition – you are going to work very hard to deliver on time. Since the home sewing industry really isn’t all that big – Koala doesn’t have a lot of competition. So they really have no incentive to treat the customer right. Oh and did I mention, I had to pay upfront for all of this. There was no, pay half now, pay the rest on delivery. So once again, they already have my money, there is zero incentive for them to do anything at this point.

Then I was told, the tables will ship in mid May. Also, because of the aggravation, they will pay for the final delivery instead of me. Well, that was a small comfort. Btw, they didn’t offer that, the store forced it on them.

Then I’m told that they will ship after Memorial Day, hmm, what is going on??? So during that week I get a notice from JB Hunt – the company that will deliver to my home. I need to set up a date for delivery, but when I look at the invoice, all they are delivering is this table, the smaller one. I only bought this because I couldn’t fit two machines on one large table. I was apoplectic! I told the store to cancel the order for the big table and to refund the money – this was way beyond the pale. A call from the store to Koala and oh, we shipped the tables separately, the larger one will arrive a few days later. It takes weeks to consolidate and ship to the west coast, and now there are two shipments back to back?

The second table, much larger, with a back leaf that will make quilting easier, which is why I wanted a larger table.

JB Hunt couldn’t consolidate the two deliveries, well, they could if I canceled the first date. No way, be my guest, come on both Wednesday and Friday if that is all you can do. I will not cancel the Wednesday delivery to accommodate them. Part of the deal is they assemble the tables, which they should, for all the money I spent. This isn’t Ikea. The guys who came on Wednesday were great. Sure they assembled the smaller table, but were very professional. Oh, instead of an acrylic insert, I am supposed to get a wooden one for the smaller table, guess what didn’t arrive? You got, the insert.

Yes, there was much more work to be done on the larger table. They told me they couldn’t find the thread holder insert. Turns out, it was in one of the boxes after all. With these tables, one gets double the amount of hardware as well as a really nice screwdriver that can switch from regular to Philips. I had already used the machines on the smaller table and make a big mistake, I left the screwdriver out. Towards the end of the installation, one of the guys was working on the new table and he pulled the second screwdriver out of his pocket. Then he pocketed it again. They were in a rush to leave, only after they had gone and I was looking for a screw driver to remove the door behind the thread pull, did I notice that I couldn’t find either of them. I had his phone number, cuz he called to let me know when he was arriving. I told him he took the screwdriver by mistake, it was probably in his pocket. Nope, he doesn’t have it. Liar. I will be calling JB Hunt to report the theft, the first one had also disappeared.

The store always throws in a chair, so here we have the table and chair, and now, that screwdriver is not the one that came with the table. Oh, I was also supposed to get a Slimline lamp, that of course didn’t show up either.

At this point I sat down and found out that Koala is owned by Tacony. So I found the names and addresses of the CEOs of both companies, I wrote them scathing letters. I find the only way to get anything done is to go straight to the top. Yes, after my phone call to JB Hunt I’m sure I’ll be writing another letter to a CEO. I sent the letters snail mail as well as sending them via email. On Saturday I got a response from Koala, they are so sorry (meanwhile, I’m hearing from others that mine is not the only story like this, they clearly don’t know how to run a business, or they simply don’t care). The lamp is on it’s way and they are refunding the full cost. The wood insert will be shipped in two weeks. They are backordered, but they happen to have one that fits my machine in the warehouse. Each one had to be cut for the specific machine, of course that info was in the order, the store rechecked, so clearly, no one really checked the order before packing. I told them I’ll be away on vacation, wait another week, I don’t want a large package sitting outside my house. What do you know! Both items will ship either together or the same day in separate packages. So I should receive them this week. Oh and while I was at it, I asked for another screwdriver.

So here I am, finally enjoying my mother’s inheritance. Am I happy with the tables? Yes, they really are very nice, but I can’t use the remotes, because they work on both tables at the same time and I don’t want that. So I’ll use the lifts with the button on each separate table.

I’ve probably lost some of you a while ago. I don’t care, customer service is extremely important. I wasn’t only paying for the tables, I was paying for good service and I didn’t get that at all. Friends on IG told me that had great experiences with Koala, good for them, I didn’t and I intend to let other people know. My biggest advice is, if you are having a problem, don’t wait for the end of the process, send a letter to the CEO of the company immediately, that seems to be the only way to get good service these days.

Leah

Gates

I know I’ve shared some of these in the past, gates in my nieghborhood. These days as the city of LA fails to take care of it’s tax paying citizens, because they are too busy spending our money on illegals and homeless, more and more people are fencing and gating their homes.

This is one of the most beautiful ones. I think it’s been here a while, but the yellow is new.

A little blue one. I love this house, the owners took the time to paint the house in beautiful colors and the gate is lovely. Also, the grassless front yard, this one works, someone is maintaining the grasses. Often these gardens, that were put in in a hurry, using only a handout from the city end up looking overgrown and a mess.

This mosaic wall and fence have been here for a very long time. One of these days this house will disappear and a McMansion will take its place.

I know I’ve shared this ‘castle’.

It sidles up to an alley, so it was nice to see this back gate as well.

These people put in a solid door, but it will take a while for the ficus to grow into the massive wall they are expecting. At some point they will even need to thin the ficus, this stuff grows like a weed.

A side gate, simple white in a brick wall, really what caught my eye is the palm tree reaching high into the sky.

Weather worn gate and trellis.

Nicely painted gate and trellis.

Lovely little gate with roses.

A gate with a flag. I like that they have a built in flag holder.

Always something to see on my walks.

Leah

I have finished one appliqué block

I’m thinking this will become an album quilt, in the tradition of Baltimore albums, or really just an album quilt. One with different blocks. At the moment I’m going traditional, we shall see as time goes by.

Now come the little fiddly parts. I have some prints, most of the fabrics are solid. I like the way this looks.

Almost there, I have a lot of these little circles to sew down.

And it’s done! I have been using appliqué paper, I washed the block in warm water with some delicate soap. This is supposed to dissolve the paper. Well, it’s not entirely dissolved, it is softer now. Who knows, I may wash the whole top again before quilting. I love the paper method, but I want it gone before quilting.

What the back looks like. I am using silk thread, it breaks a lot, especially the section that rubs in the eye of the needle. I do like using it because really, it is invisible from the front, even from the back, it isn’t over powering. So I put up with breakage.

On the garden front, a few new lemons have showed up. I wonder how they will do in the heat of the summer. My Meyer lemon tree usually only produces in the cooler weather. I still have a few lemons on the tree as well as some that have dropped. So I’ll keep and eye on these to see if they survive beyond June. Right now we are having June gloom, so mornings are cool and overcast.

Waiting for the heat, my first tomatoes have started. I bought the plant over a month ago, I’m pretty sure it’s just a cherry variety. There are more flowers, hoping this one is healthy and bountiful.

Most of my hydrangeas died in the drought, I planted a new one last year and look! It’s blooming!! I have another old one that survived, right now it looks very healthy, but no flowers yet.

I hope you aren’t bored with my flowers, I just love them so much I can’t help but share.

Leah

Some architecture

At the Greek Festival last weekend I got a chance to see the Church of St. Nicholas.

The dome gleaming in the sun. Notice how the refraction of the sunlight makes another cross. Apparently the was just cleaned and renovated. That kind of gleam can’t last long out in the weather and the city elements.

Under the dome, if you know anything about me, I love Stained Glass and mosaics. I love that Churches are keeping both these artistic styles alive and well.

Mary, in her blue robe, holding baby Jesus. It’s been a while since I’ve done any mosaic work and I have to say, I do miss it. I have the materials, I should do something now that the weather is getting warmer. No, I won’t be doing anything with a religious theme, but this is very inspiring.

Sorry this is a little out of focus. King and Queen? Saints, I don’t know who they are and I can’t see any attribute that I recognize, other than the crowns and the halos. I would love to see how this is done. Is the marble cut first and then the mosaic inserted? That would make sense, since it is a lot easier to cut down a few tesserae than chisel down the marble.

Looking towards the front door. Both mosaic and stained glass.

I love this, the colors, the variation in the glass, the circles. The light thing through.

Now I’m sorry that I didn’t spend more time in here really getting a closer look at the glass. The variation one sees with the light behind the glass. The design elements, using circles in the red robe and mostly rectangles in the blue one. I’m loving this.

Here we have the priests garments. Textiles, glass and mosaics, you must understand now why I enjoy visiting Churches. This must be for very special occasions, the royal purple.

A much ‘simpler’ white robe with another mosaic behind it. Btw, notice all the use of gold? Another way of capturing light and refracting it out in the room.

Speaking of stained glass, look what I found at the South Pasadena Library, a triptych of stained glass. Lovely in its own right. Very different from the church. All of these crafts have a very strong personal touch to them. The hand of the maker is very evident. Which is why I love these crafts so much.

A view of the outside. The San Marino sign is the local security company, the library is in South Pasadena. I have also visited the San Marino Library, which is also lovely, I just forgot to get pictures there.

Leah

A wonderful Memorial Day weekend

We didn’t have a lot of plans for the weekend, some friends visiting from DC for dinner on Friday night, a play on Saturday night. Then my son asked it the four of them could camp at our house instead of going to a campground, as they had originally planned. Since moving to their new home, it’s been like camping, although the kitchen is taking shape – that will make a huge difference.

So from a quiet weekend, we need up very busy. I just love it when people go all out with patriotic decorations.

We started at the Greek festival at St. Nicholas in Northridge. Quite an adventuresome climber we have here.

Coming down from the wall is just as fun as climbing up.

Cam went down a big slide. Although he may look terrified here, this is how he really felt.

He loved it!!!

We ate Gyros and the boys danced…

and danced…

and danced!!! I saw my friend Marlene there, she literally danced till 8 pm.

On Memorial Day itself we went to Fiesta Hermosa. Got a little history lesson on the pier. HB is 112 years old!

The town and air were packed with people enjoying the day.

Checking out Toyotas’ outrigger. We could have gone over to Kings Harbor a few miles away for the real experience.

We stuck with the photo shoot.

Easy enough, even for a dog!

Look how gorgeous this beach is!!!

So lucky that my kids I’ve here and I can visit often. Although, parking here in the summer isn’t easy.

A local gull pointing out the rules of the pier. Manhattan Beach Pier, off in the distance, with Santa Monica and Malibu at the other end of the bay.

Yes, I’m truly blessed.

Leah