World’s largest corn maze

When my son, Ricky, told me about his adventure with his wife, Kate, in the world’s largest corn maze, I thought it would make a great blog post, especially for Halloween. We have corn mazes in Texas, but this one seems to have taken mazes to a whole different level. In honor of Halloween, I’m calling the following … Ricky’s “blob post.”

My wife, Kate, and I have been living out in the modest city of Dixon, California, for the past four years, largely due to its proximity to Travis Air Force Base, where I’m stationed, and where Kate works in Sacramento. The quiet, triangle-shaped city’s main claim-to-fame is the Dixon May Fair, held every year in, you guessed it, the month of May. Boasted as the longest-running fair in all of California, you can find fried anything, midway games, and celebrity acts ranging from Snoop Dog to Larry the Cable Guy–what a variety right? Sadly, even though the May Fair is a 20-minute walk from our door step, Kate and I have never made the trek to the famous fair; it seems we’re always spending time in Napa that time of year!

Aside from the annual May Fair, did you know Dixon hosts the Guinness Book of World Records largest corn maze? Who knew tiny Dixon, also known as “Sheep Town” or “Lamb Town,” had so many quirks? Well it took us three-and-one-half years, but recently we made the five-minute drive over to Cool Patch Pumpkins to conquer the maize maze. After parking, quite appropriately, in a field, we wandered on up to buy our tickets. At $12 per person, we thought the price was steep for a simple corn maze, but we quickly found our jaws dropping in disbelief after looking at the map of the maze!

“Please allow two hours to complete the Corn Maze,” said a posted sign. Probably meant to be a cautionary note, we took it as a challenge and glided to the maze entrance. The labyrinth of corn has you doing loops, following corridors in a large grid, and scratching your head at quadruple forks-in-the-road going in all directions. The map is absolutely necessary to keep you on track, because some of the fake paths are extensive. An alpha-numeric grid helps you match your position on the map with various markers along the maze paths, just in case you’re completely stumped, but watch out for pranksters that have moved the markers around the maze!

As we trekked through the corn rows, our strategies to tackle the maze evolved and refined. We began considering drawing a complete start-to-finish line on our map, then highlighting our position as we went—this proved difficult without writing utensils! Another consideration was using Google Maps on our phone, but, alas, no cell service! About a third of the way through, we started trailing a couple that looked confident in their route, which got us another third of the way through the maze before they took a wrong turn and got us lost as well! Finally, Kate surrendered, gave me the map, and I used my internal compass and sense of direction to calculate our path. Despite these obstacles, we finished in just under one hour! Not the case with everyone where every weekend someone calls 911 hopelessly lost in the corn maze. In case you were wondering, there is no cheese at the end of the maze, but we did take a celebratory photo, high-fived, and headed to nearby Woodland, California for Mexican food and margaritas, which, honestly, should be at the end of every maze.

So while you may not jump to book your next vacation in Dixon, California, remember the world record-setting corn maze at Cool Patch Pumpkins for your next visit out to Northern California. You may just need to walk off some of that wine and cheese from nearby Napa Valley!

Houston’s International Quilt Festival … We love you!

This is the 40th anniversary of Houston’s International Quilt Festival. Who is counting but I’ve probably attended for at least the last 35 years. People from all over the world come to view what a lot of imagination and skill can produce with fabric and thread. I attended this year’s show with my quilt bee buddies. And yes … we even have a name for our little band of buddies … Bloom Where You Are Planted.

Our first mission was to seek out the Karen Nyberg’s Astronaut Quilt. We attended last night at Preview Night. The show runs until Sunday so there is still lots of time to visit. So I wrote about making a star-themed block in a previous post. My bee buddies and I participated and searched amongst the 28 panel quilts for their block. I think we found them all. The project announced last year at the quilt festival netted out with about 2,260 blocks from all over the world. What a lovely project and very humbling to be a participant.

Next we headed to the purchasing part of our reason to attend festival. Fat Quarter Queen is one of our favorite stops. I showed great restraint this year and only purchased a dozen fat quarters. Some of my favorite booths were Missouri Quilt Company. I even got my picture made with Jenny Doan who has some great quilt tutorials. She is as charming in person as she is in her tutorials. I loved Laundry Basket Quilts, Moda Bake Shop (everyone gets a free mini-charm pack for stopping by), The Teacher’s Pet (darling baby quilts) and B&T Studios (fiber artist … just had to have her stunning bluebonnet pattern).

There are also booths that have nothing to do with quilting. I loved The Bell Collection and purchased a “grandmother’s bell.” They also make lovely bell charms.

It is a wonderful event and one of the top-attended conventions in Houston with about 60,000 attendees. I’m already thinking about next year!

Amsterdam … and a visit with Anne Frank and Van Gogh

The Anne Frank Museum and the Van Gogh Museum were hands down … at the top of my Amsterdam bucket list when I was planning the trip! Even more important, as time is so fleeting when you travel, was to purchase our tickets online before leaving home. I hate to stand in long lines and the Anne Frank House in particular is notorious for VERY LONG LINES!

First, the Anne Frank Museum is located in the Joordan area of Amsterdam about a twenty-minute stroll from the Central Station. Before you leave home, make a commitment to the day and time you will be there. Museum tickets are 9.50 euros per adult. Decide if you want to participate in the 30 minute introduction lecture (add 5 euros to cost of an adult ticket) before you hit the “purchase” button. Even if you have read Anne’s entire diary the day before your visit, you will learn so much you didn’t know! Personally, I’ve read her diary twice and never knew the museum is actually located in the factory Anne’s father owned. Among other things, Mr. Frank was the inventor of pectin, an ingredient that canners will recognize that is so crucial to the whole canning process. Mr. Frank carefully planned the hiding place located in his factory. It was worked on little-by-little in one of the upper stories of the factory/warehouse as the war was raging around Holland.

As is the case in most museums, you can’t take photographs. Oh, and beware there are steep stairs. Walking through the “bookcase entrance” into the hidden rooms that was their hiding place is but a small part of the museum. The message of the museum … never forget.

The museum’s bookshop has Anne’s diary in many languages. Allow 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Van Gogh Musuem mural "The Bedroom"

As for the Van Gogh Museum, you can also purchase tickets via email for 15 euros per adult ticket. Your eticket lets you enter via the fast lane entrance. Again, no photographs are allowed. There is a huge poster-style mural on one of the floors of The Bedroom. You can snap a candid picture of that if you like! I totally didn’t recall that Van Gogh was such a tortured soul. The museum really shows the progression of his art through his career. Van Gogh produced lots of art, although I believe his brother was the only one to actually purchase one of his paintings during his lifetime. Some of my favorite Van Gogh art included Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, Irises, The Potato Eaters and several Van Gogh self-portraits. Also, don’t go looking for The Starry Night. It is at the MOMA in New York City. You can’t have everything.

The museum has a lovely and well-stocked café and … as with every art museum I have ever visited … a fantastic gift shop!

Mimi and her Van Gogh lunch boxes

Which brings me to the story of Mimi’s lunchbox. Several years ago our oldest daughter traveled to Amsterdam on business. Of course, Katie visited the Van Gogh Museum and brought back a Van Gogh Sunflowers lunch box for Mimi, her sister. For several years, Mimi has carried that lunch box back and forth every day to her day center. Several years’ use has seen a few dents and little rust on the inside. During our trip this year, I was able to replace Mimi’s lunch box with a new Van Gogh … this time Poppies and Butterflies!

Holland’s Haarlem

I wanted to write several more posts about Holland before I wander on to other subjects. We visited Haarlem on the same day as Delft and the Kinderdijk. In retrospect, maybe we should have traveled to two places instead of three. I have a few regrets. I was reading Corrie ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place” on the plane. Her family home/watch shop was right there in Haarlem. Corrie and her family hid Jews during World War II. Corrie also worked for the Dutch Resistance and survived a concentration camp. Several members of her family did not. But alas, we got to Haarlem too late to tour it. And the Grote Kerk, or Great Church, was also closed. The 15th century church filled the town square. On two of its sides were tiny little shops built onto the outside of the church. Most unusual but it totally worked! But we had a great dinner at a tapas restaurant celebrating hubby’s and Kate’s birthdays. We sat outside sharing eight little delightful tapas plates while the day turned to evening. After that … one last stop for gelato. It was another magical day.

One Lovely Blog Award

I was recently nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award!! I love writing and having other like-minded people taking the time to read my thoughts on unraveling life’s loose threads is certainly a bonus. I would like to thank Left With Louie for the nomination.

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer or up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and to also help the new blogger reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow-blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines.

The guidelines for the One Lovely Blog Award are:
•Thank the person who nominated you for the award
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog
•Share 7 facts/or things about yourself
•Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog

7 Facts About Dixie

1. I LOVE to travel! I was bitten by a ferocious travel bug in 2000. I spent 10 glorious days with my oldest daughter, Katie, after she completed her college abroad program in Italy. We visited Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome! Need I say more?

2. I have written a humor column called “You Gotta Laugh” for my Texas hometown newspaper for the past 18 years, although do not feel that I am a particularly funny person. It’s my family that is hilarious!

3. I’ve had jobs as a switchboard operator, file clerk and legal secretary. And yes … I can type about 90 words per minute but can’t text worth a flip!

4. I am very patient and persistent. My mother, now age 81, lost her green card in 1948. It never became an issue until a few years ago when Texas state laws were changed. Mom couldn’t prove she was here legally … so no driver’s license renewal. It took me 3 years … but I got it for her!

5. Yes … my real name is Dixie! I was named after Bing Crosby’s first wife.

6. I have been quilting for the past 30 years and try to learn a new skill with each new quilt project. I also credit my lovely quilting friends, you know who you are, as my reason for becoming a better quilter!

7. I am a history nut … particularly World War II and Civil War!

15 Bloggers I’d like to nominate…

1. Joy Loves Travel

2. My French Heaven

3. Night Quilter

4. Quiltiferous

5. Picnic at the Cathedral

6. The Quilting Bird

7. Owls and Things

8. Jenna Brand

9. Mandy Munroe

10. Apple Pie Patchwork

11. Kate Goes Global

12. 2 Write 4 Health

13. Quilty as Sin

14. Logo Quilts

15. Irene Grimes blog

Wow, that was difficult! I follow a lot of blogs and love reading them all. I hope you click-through to these sites and enjoy them just as much as I do.

:: Dixie ::

Check out Martha’s Quilters Parish Festival Booth!

This Saturday, October 11, is St. Martha’s Catholic Church’s Parish Festival held from noon to 8 pm at the new church campus. Our very own Martha’s Quilters will have an awesome booth at the festival so come on out and support the crafty ladies with a purchase. The past few months we have been using our vast array of talents and treasures to create unique items that can be purchased for decorating, warming yourself around the fire this winter, and Christmas gift giving! How about a cute rug for your mug? While you are browsing check out our seasonal table runners, wine gift bags, adorable rolling pin covers, as well as fabric shoe bags for travelers. We also have lovely crocheted afghans and lots of one-of-a kind quilts. And don’t forget to check out our designer fabric checkbook covers and candle pads and all kinds of knitted items. Hope to see you there!

A visit to Delft

If you have the chance to travel to Holland, don’t just hang out in Amsterdam! Add a few small towns on our travel agenda. We visited Delft and wished we had a full day to explore. The town is called the “City of Princes,” because of the shared past and present with the Dutch royal family. Because we visited Delft, the Kinderdijk and Haarlem the same day, we did not do the town of Delft justice. We did visit the Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, built in the 1300’s, but did not make it to the Oude Kerk, or Old Church, a 5-minute walk away or the Delft Factory. Obviously, we spent too much time in the local cheese shop! Or perhaps it was the leisurely beer and crepe lunch?