Amy Artisan

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Category: Stateside Tourist (page 2 of 4)

Poughkeepsie Play

As I’ve mentioned, July included a great Artisan Family vacation in upstate New York. Since last October, we had been planning our time “at camp” in the Adirondacks. As the date got closer and plans solidified, we decided to take a bit of a detour through the Hudson Valley enroute to camp.

Ready for the show!

Ready for the show!

Mom & Dad arrived at my place on Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning, we picked Rebecca up from the airport and once back at my place we quickly packed up both vehicles and set out northward towards New York. Our plan was to do some tourist-ing along the Hudson River in the Poughkeepsie, NY area. Initial thoughts were to visit the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. A later addition to the agenda was for Friday evening – seeing a new staging of “Oklahoma!” at Bard College as a belated birthday present for Artisan Dad.

Due to a softball tournament in the area, our Friday night hotel choices were limited and we ended up staying further away from things than I would have preferred. But sometimes, that works out for the better. Once we checked into the hotel, I looked at the map and realized that we wouldn’t be able to get to the FDR site and to the show on Friday afternoon/evening. So as we all rested a bit in the late afternoon my first order of business was to find a fun dining option for before the show. I indeed googled “restaurants near me” and ended up finding a great winner for us: Farm to Table Bistro was just up the road from us and en route to the college. We enjoyed an early dinner at this delightful restaurant – reading through the menu it was difficult to choose from so many delicious sounding entrees.

With Friday traffic and smaller roads, it was about an hour drive up to Bard College – a lot of beautiful scenery filled our time. As we turned on the road to the theater, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the Richard B Fisher Center for the Performing Arts – a billowing array of stainless steel shingles that is a Frank Gehry hallmark.

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

(As an aside, I was very impressed with the emails I received from the center leading up to the performance date – in addition to directions to the venue & dining options, they included an online version of the program as well as links to the NY Times review and a pre-opening article.)

What an amazing experience we had at that Friday evening show. We knew going into the evening that it was a “different” staging of the show and I just hoped that the rest of the family was as game for the variation as I was. In the end, they were – whew! The show was in a small theater that had been configured basically as theater in the round (actually, a rectangle here) – the audience was seated at 2 rows of tables that ringed the stage. Red crockpots filled with simmering chili where on the tables. As the audience filled into the theater, the 6 person band was warming up. Before long the show started – 10 actors; the front row of tables were used as part of the staging; cornbread was mixed together in the opening scene and served during intermission with the chili and lemonade; with the pared down staging, I felt like I was noticing the lyrics and lines much more than I previously had.

After the show, we made a wrong turn on our drive back towards the hotel & ended up crossing the Hudson (unplanned) – we quickly picked the new way south on that side of the river & then enjoyed the late night crossing of the Mid-Hudson/Roosevelt Bridge to come back on the side of the river that we needed to be on.

There were a few raindrops to start our Saturday morning but that didn’t stop us. Since we were in New York, of course our day started with a great breakfast spread at a diner across from our hotel. Once our order was placed and we sat at our table with mugs of coffee or tea, we all were reflecting on the performance the night before – without a doubt, it had 4 Artisan Family Thumbs-Up.

After loading up the vehicles and picking up iced coffee for all of us we were once again on our way. We stopped at the FDR site (picked up a postcard or 2) but realized that we didn’t have the time on this day to spend touring the site – so, I guess we need to come back. And as we had driven through the cute small towns the day before we all could easily see us coming back for a multi-day visit.

Leaving the FDR site, we got back on the NY State Thruway in caravan towards our next stop…camp in the Adirondacks…to be continued

Beachfront Business

After my “kwik trip” to Wisconsin to celebrate Bre’s confirmation, I was home for just a few hours before heading back to the airport. As has been the case several times this year, a business trip ended up being scheduled right against a bit of fun. This time, my early Monday morning travel was to Florida – on Tuesday I was facilitating a workshop.


The hotel where our meeting was held included “beachfront” in the name and was very aptly named, the view from the balcony of my hotel truly was stunning…morning, noon and night! Needless to say, when in my room I spent a lot of time staring out the window or out on the balcony. At night, the gentle sound of the waves coming through the sliding glass door made for excellent sleep.


After a successful day on Tuesday, my goal for Wednesday morning was simple: be on the beach for sunrise. I am so glad that I did that! The 40 minutes I spent on the beach watching the sun, clouds & waves was so restorative – as the light started to emerge and play against the clouds and water my head was filled…with favorite verses, with lyrics to songs & hymns (morning has broken, anyone?), with reflections on the last couple of years since I made the decision to change jobs and relocate…In the midst of it all, I was thankful for the technology held in my hand that allowed me to capture pictures & even videos of the sunrise to share with dear ones far away.


Midday on Wednesday, it was time to leave the spectacular beachfront views and begin to journey home. As I drove back towards Orlando, I saw a sign for the Brevard County Stadium – a lightbulb went off that this was the home of the Brewers farm team: Brevard County Manatees. I had plenty of time before my flight so I took a 3 mile detour to the stadium. I walked around & snapped a few pictures to share with friends. Staff cars were in the parking lot so I found the main phone number & called. “Hi, I’m a Brewers fan in the area on a business trip – is it possible for me to stop in & get some Sea Cow Swag?” I was given instructions to take the elevator to their office & someone would meet me. In just a few minutes, we were in the team store (which was already torn down for the season) & I was picking up a couple of ball caps from the storage closet. All told, I maybe added 15 minutes to my time to get back to the airport – and now I have a fun new hat to add to the collection (sidenote: manatees have been a favorite animal since a 5th grade report on them – still have yet to see a live one up close…)

The workshop was a success…the beach views restorative…the baseball stop a fun serendipity! Once again, it was fun to work a bit of extra fun into a few road warrior days.

Meet Me in Milwaukee

This last weekend was “Part 3” of summer fun with my Wisconsin family.

Part 1 & Part 2 were on the calendar from early in the year. Of course, both of them were originally meant to be longer adventures before life & work caused the plans to change. So…as Part 2 was being shortened by work requirements we quickly decided to add a Part 3. Our plans were to meet up in Milwaukee for a long weekend of baseball, museums, frozen custard and all around fun as a bit of a back to school blast. Once the dates were confirmed, points were used to grab hotel rooms for us and we began to add possible activities to our TripIt itinerary to fill our days with fun.

Miller Park Memories

Miller Park Memories

Baseball…Our only “definite” for the weekend was a Friday night Brewers baseball game. The giveaway for the game was a Brewers t-shirt sponsored by Kwik Trip – we all chuckled at the appropriateness of that for us. We got to the stadium early & had fun checking out the kids zone activities before settling into great seats along the right foul line. While we weren’t thrilled with the outcome of the game, we cheered heartily throughout.

Museum Moments

Museum Moments

Museums…On Friday we experienced the Milwaukee Public Museum – Ry’s excitement of being at a museum was palpable as we walked up the stairs towards exhibits. We wandered through exhibits of dinosaurs and butterflies and rain forests and scientists at work and old Milwaukee and so much more. On Saturday we headed towards the foggy lakefront and the Discovery World Museum – what an incredible collection of science and technology to explore. From interactive models of the Great Lakes to an aquarium that included “petting pools” to hand powered toys and machines to the techno jungle to a Les Paul’s House of Sound – each exhibit was designed for plenty of hands on interaction. Without a doubt, I think the adults had as much fun exploring as the kids in Discovery World.

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

Frozen Custard…As we were starting to plan for this weekend, I came across an article about the best frozen custard places in Milwaukee. I added the details into our TripIt itinerary and we joked that we would see how much custard we could enjoy. Turns out that we managed to make it to 3 of the 6 custard stands in the article – each day we did a late lunch at a stand – first burgers and then the custard. Our approach to evaluating each stand varied among the group – some went for hot fudge sundaes, malts, flavors of the days. A few of us went with a standard baseline – vanilla frozen custard in a waffle cone. On Friday, we started with the oldest stand, Gilles. It was a tasty start to the tour. The “first time visitor” packets they handed out where a fun introduction to their history. On Saturday, as we left Discovery World we headed for our second stand. In the “serendipity way” that sometimes transpires, as we were nearing our destination, Chris comments about how he used to go to a place called Oscar’s in this area when he was a kid…and just like that we were turning into the Oscar’s parking lot. I do believe that someone was transported back to happy childhood memories with the burger & custard. On Sunday, we concluded this portion of the tour with a stop at Kopp’s on the way to the airport. The outdoor eating area of benches by a huge water wall was a nice change-up from a “traditional” sit down area.

Family Fun Times

Family Fun Times

All Around Fun…Beyond the baseball, museums and custard we had plenty of fun, no matter what we were doing. Thursday kicked off with lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings – with Ry challenging me to the lunchtime trivia game. Our hotel was a great base camp – for R&R whether it was a good nap, pool time for the kids or lounge time for the grown ups. One evening we browsed through a local mall and enjoyed dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Another evening, we invited cousins over for an impromptu pool & pizza party at the hotel. Through it all, there were plenty of moments of fun just because we all were together.

On Sunday afternoon, it was time to say our goodbyes & “see you soon” and head back to the non-vacation life. But never fear, we are already talking about what our next “meet me in…” vacation may be – we all agree we need to do this again.

DC Days

This year’s spring trip to see my Texas girlies was a bit different – in March I met up with the family in Washington DC. They were in town for their spring break ahead of a conference their Dad was attending. So, a quick overnight trip was in order. While I was only with them for about 30 hours, we managed to pack a lot of fun into a little bit of time. The Metro, buses, taxis & feet were our modes of transportation.

Air & Space

Friday started at the Air & Space Museum – a favorite of mine from the first time I visited there (when I was Miss M’s age). The Amelia Earhart exhibit was a favorite of all the girls. It was fun to share my love of space with them. And of course, we all had to touch the moon rock on our way out.

On the Mall

As we crossed the mall onto our next adventures, we spotted the Racing Presidents. The girls giggled at the oversized heads. Of course, a picture with Teddy Roosevelt was in order.

Museum Fun

Quite a bit of our afternoon was spent in the Natural History museum. The Hope Diamond, the vast array of geodes & quartz, mummies (which Miss K had studied in school), sea turtles, insects and more captured our attention. Sidenote: The Mercer vs. Duke game was underway while we were in the museum – I was getting game updates via family texts & sports apps. When I saw the score in the final 2 minutes, I pulled up the game on the “Watch Live” app & stood in a corner of the insect exhibit watching an amazing game and win.

Carousel & Conservatory

Late in the afternoon we met up with some friends and enjoyed the carousel on the mall and the National Botanic Garden Conservatory. After dinner, our weary band of tourists caught a cab back to the hotel and called it an early evening.


On Saturday morning, all 3 girlies came running down the hotel hall to hang out with me as we got the morning going. After breakfast, we went to the Jefferson Memorial before heading towards the zoo. Friends from our time in Chicago (hi Alicia!) hosted us for a simple and delicious spring lunch before we joined with seemingly half of DC on a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon at the zoo. As we walked through most of the animal habitats, we didn’t see too many animals – it seemed like they maybe hadn’t yet transitioned to being outside again. After about a 30 minute wait, we were ‘finally’ in the Panda house (my favorite animal since I was a little girl). We all were enthralled by the pandas – while we had hoped to see the new baby, we had to settle for seeing her napping on the monitor. But we did enjoy seeing Mom & Dad munching on bamboo.

Late Saturday afternoon, I said farewell and drove back home to PA. My time in DC with the girls was short because I needed to get home & finish packing for a business trip…less than 24 hours later I was on the flight to London…

Wisconsin Wanderings

A journey of 85,544 stitches…
What started as a small throw...

What started as a small throw…

Two years ago today, I cast on the first stitches of this afghan on a (most likely snowy) Sunday afternoon in my hotel while on assignment in Marinette. I started with a skein of beautiful Malabrigo in Tuareg – I had 2 skeins of this yarn and decided that I would begin & end with it. The color (a favorite hue) and name of the yarn seem like an appropriate anchor to this afghan because I was indeed a bit nomadic during this work assignment. Little did I know that an initial consulting project would turn into a job/career change and a relocation from the Midwest to the northeast. I’ve named this my “Wisconsin Wanderings” afghan because all of the yarn is from my time in Marinette (2009-2012). When I had the opportunity, I did a fair amount of “wandering” on the weekends – many times the wanderings included a yarn shop visit…a yarn shop visit included purchases…my stash was growing with lots of single skeins. Turning an eclectic assortment of skeins into an afghan for my new place seemed like a good way to celebrate the memories.

A few yarns from the journey…

Oh, the varied yarns! Most are worsted weight – some a bit thicker, some a bit thinner. There are yarns…

…from the local yarn shop in Menominee – What an interesting place. I’m sure there is a story about the owner, the shoppe name, her younger days; however, whenever I was in there it just didn’t seem like it was possible to ask. My first time in, I came across a skein of the Manos wildflowers yarn that was so popular as I first jumped into knit blogging – that is in the afghan. On other visits to the shoppe, I picked up quite an assortment of old skeins of yarn – including a truly “vintage” skein of Lorna’s Laces with a “pre Chicago” label.

…from Iris Fine Yarns in Appleton which was a stop just about every time I was in Appleton – Several Malabrigo skeins – including 2 skeins of Malabrigo Tuareg that I used to start & end the afghan; a fun 3 strand twist that included a strand of green and strand of gold (Go Pack Go!)

…from the Seivers School of Fiber Art on Washington Island, part of a delightful day trip in August 2010…2 handspun skeins from local students/fiber artists…

…from Red Sock Yarns in Door County, a stop during several delightful day trips…Yellows, greens and blues to remind me of the beauty of Door County; a skein called Tundra that calls to mind the dormant acres in wintertime

…from the local farmer’s market…on my first visit in May 2010 I picked up a kettle-dyed light purple that was a surprise to see among the produce & meats

…from “finally” meeting a long time blog friend (hi Vicki!) who lived nearby and is now dying gorgeous yarns (Make.Do) – we met at her farmer’s market stall in July 2012…the blues in the skein capture the bay & the skies that filled many a day and adventure

…from some of my “self” knitting projects during my time there – yarn from my 2010 Olympic sweater; yarn from a Coastal Shawlette; yarn from the first scarf I knit about a month after starting the project; yarn from an infinity scarf that has been a cool weather staple the last 2 years

Crafting a Memory Afghan...

Crafting a Memory Afghan…

Stitches were knit…in the hotel that was “home” for so long, in the suite that we have renamed “the Amy suite” because I stayed there so many times…on a Sunday morning along the waterfront in Menominee during the final busy month before the project went live…in the office at 2AM while managing cutover activities one weekend…on weekends at home in Chicago…at home in the ‘Ville over Christmas ’12 break – back when the project was still fairly small & transportable…at my new home here in Pennsylvania…many a Packers game included knitting (although it still was possible to mess up the simple 2 row pattern during some game moments)…2012 was knit into 2013 and 2013 was knit into 2014 on New Year’s Eves…

Ready for use...

Ready for use…

The afghan came off the needles in early January and has been put to immediate use with the cold winter that we have had so far.And now, the afghan is on my sofa – ready to be grabbed and used to warm up. With the cold winter that we’ve had here, it has already been put to good use. It looks like a good napping blanket – I might need to start taking naps.

Marinette memories captured…in photos and in yarn…

These 85,544 stitches are a tactile scrapbook…looking at the stitches and the yarns, I’m taken back to moments in time: good work days, tough work days, “normal” work days, new opportunities, silly moments, early Monday morning drives north to start the work week, new and endearing friendships, daytrips and exploration, so many shore moments – early morning breakfasts in my car watching the sunrise over the water & evening walks to the lighthouse and back to de-stress from the day, many a moment along the shore, big milestones, weekend afternoons at the local cafe with a coffee and a book or knitting, small daily routines, Sunday suppers with friends – so many things that filled my days there.

Beyond photos and scrapbooks, what are “unique” ways that you have captured memories from special times in your life?

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