New Projects – Floss, Remodeling, and Old Photos

Some big new projects have kept me incredibly busy lately!

dmc variegated floss 4210First and foremost, my variegated floss sales on Etsy have been picking up considerably, which is great news. People are discovering that my pricing is very competitive, so I’ve spent some time filling orders. The most popular colors thus far are DMC 4210 (Radiant Ruby) and 4255 (Orchid).

 

 

dmc variegated floss 4255The Ruby floss (above) is gorgeous, so I understand why it’s popular. And Pantone declared “Radiant Orchid” to be their 2014 Color of the Year, which may help explain why DMC’s lovely Orchid variegated floss is selling well.

With the increased sales, in the last week I’ve created a few more metrics and tools to help me keep track of inventory. These take some time to set up, but once that is done, it’s a matter of maintenance.

ancora crafts projects bathroom remodelAside from Ancora Crafts, I’ve got two big projects underway. First, one of our two bathrooms is being remodeled. A corner shower stall is going away and making way for the whole end of the room to be tiled and a glass wall and door installed. The room is pretty small, so it’s not an enormous project, but it’s substantial enough that we have a contractor doing the work. My husband and I have been running around for a couple of weeks picking out new tile and plumbing fixtures. Much fun but much time consumed!

 

 

ancora crafts projects photo organizationRemember non-digital photographs? Like many of you, I have a ton of ’em, and I’ve just started the process of putting them in chronological order, tossing out 75% of them (how many photos of a graduation or a family picnic do you really need to keep?), and then scanning the photos that remain.

I’m also going to dismantle nearly all of my scrapbooks (you can see a few of them in the photo at top left). I really don’t look at them very often, they’re heavy and take up a lot of space, and most of them use those sticky sheets that just aren’t good for the photos. The photos reside in an earthquake and tsunami zone, so if the big one were to hit, they would be destroyed. At least if I have them digitally, I can put them in the cloud and I know I won’t lose them forever to become part of a huge Pacific floating trash island.

ancora crafts projects first stitching projectA benefit of digging out all my old photos is that I found a few of my old stitching projects from years ago. Someday I’ll make a proper post about my old projects, but for now I’ll just share a couple highlights. At right is the first stitching project I ever made, with a ton of help from my Mom. I’m sure she threaded the needle and started and stopped the threads for me. She sewed on the cute trim and put the bell at the bottom. This thing hung on the door of my bedroom for years.

 

 

ancora crafts projects plastic canvas boxesNext are a couple of boxes made from plastic canvas and yarn, made when I was in my tweens and early teens. I made oodles of these little boxes but these are the only two that I still have. They’re cute, and I like the diagonal pattern I created on the box on the left.

 

As usual, I have more commercial ventures underway, including my compass rose needlepoint project and a series of fun cross stitched sayings that will appear on the blog and on Etsy soon. Staying busy is a happy place to be!

ACrafty Interview with Sylvia Windhurst

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Sylvia Windhurst!

Green Embroidered Heart TrioWhen did you start crafting? Did anyone help get you started or did you find your own way? SW: My mother is an artist. She is a printmaker as well as an expert knitter and seamstress. We were always encouraged to be creative, and I spent many hours drawing, sewing, and creating strange hats using scrap yarn and crochet hooks that my mother supplied. One of my favorite activities was doll making – creating a body out of a clothes pin or pipe cleaners and creating an outfit out of what ever materials we could find. I definitely credit my mother for fostering a creative atmosphere in our home and I hope I did the same for my daughter who is on her way to becoming a fine photographer.

Group of Beaded Bead Flying Saucer EarringsI actually have a fine arts degree in printmaking and continued to draw and paint for several years after graduating. Gradually as my professional life and family took up more of my time, I stopped painting and drawing. I have a full time job as a graphic artist/prepress technician, and thus spent my time designing, retouching and preparing the designs of other graphic artists for printing or web publication. Over the ensuing years, I really began to miss the idea of creating something unique with my own hands. I started going to life drawing classes and then began embroidering again. Then purely by accident about 8 years ago I saw some beaded jewelry online made with off loom bead weaving techniques – I loved the look and started learning both bead weaving and bead embroidery techniques. I am self taught – and I give credit to the many great craft bloggers out there who are willing to share their knowledge online as well as the crafters who took the time to post great YouTube instructional videos. I also invested in a small library of beading books and spent many night practicing and creating.

About the term craft — I think the term craft and art can be interchangeable – sometimes I think when something is termed a craft people look at it as a hobby – not something serious, so I like to think of myself as a bead and fiber artist and crafter. There are many people who create wonderfully artistic items using techniques considered “craft”. For example, last year I bought handcrafted brooms an from an artisan in Oregon. Not only are they lovingly handcrafted, functional brooms but they are aesthetically appealing and wonderful works of art as well.

French Lavender Sachet Embroidered Flowers Satin RibbonWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? SW: I dabbled briefly in stained glass and did not love it. However, if it has anything to do with beads, fabric, and thread, I am in heaven. I am still primarily a beader and hand embroiderer, but am incorporating my machine sewing skills into my work a bit more now. I also have played with polymer clay a little to make my own cabochons and that is something I want to continue exploring in the future.

What is your favorite craft book? SW: I don’t have a favorite, but I think Robin Atkins has written some nice beading books. Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher is a great reference book for beaders.

There are also some really great bloggers in the beading world. Inspirational Beading and Beading Arts are two nice blogs that come to mind. Both are informative and share a lot of information.

Purple Paisley Embroidered Wide Felt Cuff with Ombre Color ShadingHow have your crafts changed over time? SW: They have changed most definitely. I think my technique is far better than when I first started – and I have a lot more ideas now. I am willing to take more risks, and am also more willing to admit when something isn’t working and start again rather than being stubborn and investing more time in a project that just isn’t coming together.

 

Are you a person who is comfortable playing with color, or do you work better with color palettes you find – say, in photos or in nature? SW: I love color, and am always playing with it.

Boho Beaded HoopsRed and Black Beaded Sterling Hoops
Pale Blue Teardrop Beaded Sterling Hoops with Purple, Green and Orange Accents

Those are three examples of color palettes I have used in my beaded hoop earrings.

Nature's Jewel NecklaceI was inspired by the iridescent colors on a beetle for this one. Not only are the colors unusual, but the piece ended up having a bit of an ancient Egyptian style to it, which I also liked.

 

 

 

What craft project are you most proud of? SW: It’s a toss up.

Bollywood Bib Necklace with MalachiteThis Bollywood inspired bib necklace is a statement piece that took me many hours. What makes it special to me is the weblike gold embroidery I created in the background. It just adds something unique to the piece.

 

 

 

 

Moss Green Forest Fairy Cuff with Agate FocalThis cuff is another piece that I am very fond of. It has painted leather leaves and embroidery combined with bead weaving and bead embroidery. Despite the fact that I used so many techniques in one piece I think the monochromatic palette keeps the design cohesive.

 

 

 

 

What is your most popular (or bestselling) project? SW: My beaded hoops are my best selling items. I have also done well with my cyclops pieces. I have a stash of realistic doll eyes which I used in little treasure boxes and a few stuffed creatures.

Mexican Folk Art Inspired Embroidered Cyclops Dragonfly Soft Sculpture Bead Embroidered Cyclops Gold Treasure Box

They are definitely on the odd side, which I like, and surprisingly sold quite well. I plan to make more cyclops boxes in the near future.

Moss and Burgundy Embroidered Tapestry Necklace with Vintage Rhinestones

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? SW: I think the challenge is ongoing – I keep a notebook with me at all times to jot down ideas. A lot of times the translation of that idea into a workable project isn’t always smooth. Sometimes I have to experiment and accept when a technique isn’t working well and be willing to start over again. Also, I tend to be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to supplies and I need to remind myself that instead of constantly buying new supplies I need to find creative solutions to design issues using existing supplies.

Green and Gold Abstraction BraceletHow has crafting affected your character? SW: It has definitely made me more patient and persistent. I also find it calming. I initially started creating beaded jewelry and embroidered objects as a calming therapy after getting home from my “day job.” Even after starting to sell my work and running an online store, I still find the act of creating calming. The repetitive nature of beadweaving is particularly therapeutic.

 

Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? SW: I had made a cuff inspired by Boudica, the Irish Warrior Queen. It had a shield like shape (kind of like Wonder Woman’s arm pieces!) and a lovely brown, gold and green color scheme with an celtic knot symbol on it. A woman purchased it and messaged me saying that she had been suffering from some serious personal issues and that in recovering she had used Boudica as an inspirational figure, which was why she purchased the cuff.

Pink and Blue Microorganism BroochWhat crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? SW: I am starting to play with hand painted fabrics as a base for my embroidery and bead embroidery. I am still in the experiment phase for the most part right now, although I did make a small series of brooches using fabric I had painted. The photo here shows an example:

I am also planning to play with polymer clay and make some cabochons to use. I have only used polymer clay a little bit but I am amazed at some of the fantastic things artists have created with this medium. I would love to take a class in metal polymer clay – I just have to find one that fits in with my schedule and is geographically convenient!

Many thanks to Sylvia sharing her art and craft with us and for participating in this ACrafty Interview series! You can follow Sylvia’s ongoing adventures on her blog, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and her Etsy shop.

Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonbasketweaver Tina Puckettcross stitcher Meredith Cait, the two part interview with textile artist Arlee Barr, Halloween costume maker Justin Newton, and multi-crafter Pam Harris of Gingerbread Snowflakes.

Intro to Blazing Saddles and other Projects

Blazing Saddles Project

First up, I wanted to share the first WIP (work in progress) of my latest project – a needlework tribute to Blazing Saddles, one of the funniest movies ever made. The stitching is of a list that Harvey Korman dictates; a list of the worst scum and scoundrels he wants Slim Pickens to round up to attack the town of Rock Ridge.

This scene has two genius performances. The first is Harvey Korman dictating the list and making it seem effortlessly spontaneous. The second is Slim Pickens desperately searching his pockets and only at the last minute finding his paper and pencil.

Here’s the cross stitch thus far:
Blazing Saddles WIP #1I’m having some fun with this project! I’ve started from the center and am working my way out from there. Some of the words will be just one color – like you see with “murderers,” “con men,” and “hornswogglers.” However, a lot of them will have some fun elements – like the nits on “nitwits” and the rug pattern through “Indian agents.” Stay tuned to my Twitter and Flickr feeds for more updates!

Digital Conversion

The second project I want to mention was more of a personal project rather than a stitching project, but I’m proud of it all the same. I just finished converting all my old videotapes and cassette tapes to digital. Now some of you may be thinking “WTF is she still doing with that old crap?” Good question. Let me give you a little of the backstory.

Anchorage skylineWhen I was about 12, my parents divorced, my Mom moved me from Anchorage, Alaska, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and my Dad became the best long-distance father EVER. As Mom couldn’t afford cable TV, Dad would send me care packages with videotapes filled with the best stuff to cheer me up – Dennis Miller Live from HBO, Sifl and Olly from MTV, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and lots and lots of standup comedians from HBO and the early days of Comedy Central.  I watched these tapes religiously. They provided a great distraction from all the drama of being a teenager. So there’s some great comedy and some great memories on those tapes that I was just unwilling to simply throw away.downtown

[Gee, do you see any similarities between the two cities? One does happen to be 5500 feet higher than the other one, but aside from that…]

I could have taken these tapes to a company that would have just converted them to DVD for me, but I had some issues with that. First, the shows that were taped were all jumbled up. Dad would record stuff as it hit the TV – he wouldn’t have one tape for each show. Second, there were some advertisements mixed in that I wanted to edit out. Third, some of the tapes were six hours long (remember Extended Play recording mode?). Fourth, I really didn’t feel like paying a lot of money for this service.

So I did a little research and ended up buying this little dooflatchie. I read the Amazon reviews, and took the chance that it would work out. For roughly $30, I figured I’d give it a shot. It took some doing to get it to work (and like other reviews state – their user manual and customer support are pretty much useless), but once I got the hang of it it worked fine. My biggest complaint is that the longer the tape, the more the video and audio would get out of synch. I managed to work around it by splitting the rips into 15 minute chunks and then having to edit them back together using Windows Movie Maker. Pretty tedious work.

Beckwith Box 1But the good news is that I did it. I started ripping tapes to my hard drive on January 27, and finished burning the last DVD and ripping the last cassette tape on Monday, May 27.

I’M DONE!

This was a major job – I must have spent a couple hundred hours working on this. But the relief is profound – I was able to save some great comedy and some great memories for my Dad and myself with this project.  Also, I was able to recycle two and a half book boxes full of videotapes and cassette tapes and streamline my life just that little bit. This is what I call progress!

Are any of you tackling similar major streamlining/memory projects?

Blog Every Day in May Days 12 – 19

Further topics for Rosalilium’s Blog Every Day in May Project! Today I’m covering collecting, go green, food, pampering, walk to work, best friends, and traditions.

Collecting

Fabric stash or dog bed?I’m actively trying NOT to collect anything anymore. My biggest weaknesses are movies and fabric. I’m one of those people who can watch movies over and over again. So I see a great deal on a DVD I know I will enjoy and it’s tough to resist. And there’s nothing better than finding a beautiful cotton print and buying a half yard of it. [Note: this is not my dog or fabric stash, but it’s adorable and I can totally see my dog doing this]

With that in mind, my husband and I are tackling some big projects to get rid of STUFF! DVD cases – chucked out! CDs – digitized and jewel cases chucked out! Old videotapes and cassette tapes – digitized and chucked out! Up next – the challenge of sorting, filtering, organizing, and digitizing old photos. That’s a big one.

Too much stuff can just weigh you down, physically and emotionally. Patricia Herr at GirlsOnTheWay puts it best: “You don’t need all the stuff you possess, and having all that stuff only leads you to believe you need even more stuff. Before you know it, you’re spending money to maintain the piles of stuff you don’t need, and then you’re spending energy coveting the shinier stuff your neighbors own (but don’t need).” Read her whole post – it’s worth your time.

Go Green

Solar PanelsThere’s a few small things we do – no paper plates, walking when we can. There’s a few small things I’d like to look into – replacing paper towels with washable rags, some vertical gardening on our patio. Recycling is handled by our city. However, our biggest green contribution is the house. We remodeled it 10 years ago and this puppy is tight! We’ve got solar panels on the roof that generate most of our electricity. The windows are all double paned and the walls and ceiling are heavily insulated. We’ve got high efficiency appliances (I LOVE my clothes washer) and low water use fixtures. And for the States, our house is pretty small – about 1300 sq. ft. That means much less space to heat, cool, furnish, and keep clean. Yes.

Food Glorious Food

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie RecipeI’m so lucky – my husband does all the cooking. He likes to cook, whereas I’m more of a forager if left to my own devices. But I do like to bake. My favorite things to bake right now are a Grapefruit Pound Cake and a Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie. They’re both from Cooking Light magazine and thus lower calorie than regular recipes for pound cake and chocolate pie.

Do I have a favorite food? Not really. I will say, though, that when we were living in Europe, I sure did miss having Mexican food once in a while. Whenever we would come back to the States for a visit, one of our first stops would be to go get a shredded beef taco and some good salsa.

Pampering

yogaTo me, there’s nothing better than a serious deep-tissue massage by someone who really knows what they’re doing.  Second to that is a really good yoga session where you KNOW that the next day, you’re going to feel it. Fabulous.

Walk to Work

I’m so happy that I work at home. I’ve got a desk that is surrounded by windows, and the view is always good.

Best Friends

I am fortunate enough to have some really good friends and family, and sometimes it makes me a bit sad that very few of them live near me. But I move around a lot and they move around a lot, so that’s the way it is. I am grateful for my friends because even if we only talk a few times a year, we know we would be there for each other if necessary. We don’t over-analyze and get defensive if someone doesn’t email us back right away – it’s OK – people are busy – we understand that.

Favorite Tradition

Interview Q7My husband and I don’t have too many traditions. As we’ve moved around, we’ve had to create new events on the go.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, though, I really do enjoy being home, putting up the tree, baking, wrapping presents and the like. And I will always make my Mom’s recipe for apple pie. [Note: This is my Kitchen-Aid mixer. His name is Bruce]

Favorite Books – Crafty and Otherwise

When I was young I was a voracious reader, and I read some books I probably wasn’t quite ready for at certain ages (reading Orwell’s 1984 at age 9 was a bit mind-blowing). I still love to read, but now most of my non-computer time is taken up with stitching. Unless I make the heavy investment in audio books, my reading time is limited these days. The last book I finished was Ender’s Game, shortly before I knew it was going to be a movie. Now I’m slowly reading The Devil in the White City, which has some great history about Chicago (probably my favorite city in the States).

Here are some of my favorite books and some reasons why they’re on this list:

Fiction

  • DUNEDune – It’s incredible what Herbert imagined would be possible for people to do with their minds and bodies. From a Guild Navigator’s ability to fold space, the strategy, control and timing necessary in a knife fight, to the Bene Gesserit’s ability to control their own metabolisms and use “the voice” to control others actions, it’s interesting to think if any of it is really possible.
  • Jane Austen – Aside from the obvious attractiveness of the male leads in the movie versions, her books show some of the status of women and the slower pace of change at the time. She also shows how being a selfish and inappropriate douchebag like Lydia Bennett can hurt yourself and others.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers – Her four book series from the 1930’s, Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon, are an unusual romance set in mystery novels. The author and her two lead characters are smart and tough, making these anything but pulp fiction.

Non-Fiction

  • 67picGonzo: the Art – Ralph Steadman’s art speaks to me like no other. But he’s not for everyone…
  • Creating the Not So Big House – Smaller houses and minimal stuff in them is GOOD.
  • Essentials of Geology – It seems to me we get into a lot of trouble when people don’t understand the scientific method. Geology is everywhere and it’s a great way to start understanding how real science works.

Craft and Design

Needlepoint Stitch Sampler - 1996

  • 101 Needlepoint Stitches and How to Use Them – I made this fabu sampler using this book. The text has clear diagrams and tips about how to use and how to perform each stitch.
  • Design and Make Your Own Contemporary Sampler Quilt – I made my first quilt using only the instructions from this book. It’s a great place for new quilters to start.
  • Altair Design (now called Images and Images 2) – When I was growing up, as soon as I had markers and color pencils, I had Altair Design books, and I can say that the effect was profound. As you can see from some of my pieces and inspirations, I still have a strong inclination toward geometric patterns. You can see all kinds of different shapes and possibilities in the lines. These books can really let the imagination open up and the creativity flow!
  • This Persian Flower Needlework is based on a very small element from a historical design book.The World of Ornament – THE resource for historical design inspiration. Covering design from the Ancient Egyptians through the mid 1800’s, this massive tome is colorful, fascinating, and idea-generating. Ancora Crafts Persian Flower pattern and kits are based on a tiny flower on one of it’s pages

Humor

  • Bloom County – A very funny comic strip that was both sweet and cynical at the same time. It was highly influential on my current vague mistrust of politicians and the media. I still have my Opus and Bill the Cat stuffed animals 30 years later.

Bill the Cat for President

  • A Fistful of Fig Newtons – Jean Shepherd is probably best known for the short stories that combined to make the movie A Christmas Story. Stories from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters were combined to make the movie script. And while I love these books, I love his book A Fistful of Fig Newtons even more. His takes on summer camp (“The Mole People Battle the Forces of Darkness”), dorm life (“A Fistful of Fig Newtons or the Shoot-Out in Room 303”), mess hall duty on a troop train (“The Marathon Run of Lonesome Ernie, the Arkansas Traveler”), and algebra (“Lost at C”) are hilarious. Shepherd always weaves a vivid and funny tale.
  • Scary - Gallery Of Regrettable FoodThe Gallery of Regrettable Food – I about wet my pants from laughter when I first read this book (at work, no less – a coworker had brought it in the office). James Lileks is a funny writer, and he found inspiration in some of the most disgustingly photographed food of all time.

 

Have any of you read these books as well? Do you have any suggestions based on what I’ve recommended above?

 

Disclosure: Ancora Crafts is an Amazon Associate – your purchases from the links above will help support Ancora Crafts. I own every linked book and product in this post with the exception of the geology book as I already own a heavy duty geology textbook. I will only endorse products that I believe, based on our personal knowledge of the products, are worthy of such endorsement.

Blog Every Day in May 3 – 9

I’m participating in Rosalilium’s Blog Every Day in May in a modified way. I say “modified” as some of the topics I’ll combine into one post (like this one). The topics are just peachy, but it would be a struggle for me to make some of the topics interesting on their own. You might ask “what makes me think a combined post will be more interesting?” Good question! Let’s find out.

Day in the Life

Interview Q6To me, every day my husband and family are healthy and happy is a good day. A productive day starts online and ends with a bunch of stitching. I’ve got stitching projects to last me for years, and I’m eager to tackle them all. One thing I will say is that every day I try to do something I really don’t want to do. Be it paying bills or sweeping the floor or trying to streamline the possessions – I try to tackle at least one thing a day. It helps keep my head straight.

Five Fave Blogs

This is kind of tough as I mostly follow twitter feeds and pick and choose the posts that look interesting. However, I’ll throw this list out there:

  • ThisIsColossal – The name is not hyperbole – there’s some jaw-dropping art in the world, and Colossal is likely to find it
  • FastCoDesign – Consistently excellent
  • MrXStitch – U.K. manbroiderer Jamie Chalmers’ blog has opened my eyes to the astounding variety of stitching arts and crafts
  • PostSecret – Raw and unflinching way to empathize and sympathize with humanity
  • Fark – Snarky and funny – check out the 2012 Headlines of the Year winners

Fit and Healthy

On a normal week, I walk about 15 miles, do some time on a stationary bike, and take a 90 minute yoga class. Right now I feel the need to up the exercise and work in a daily 15 minute yoga routine. That’s something I really have to think about as I want to take it seriously and make a permanent part of my daily routine – not just for a couple of weeks.

lotus mudraI have to think that the yoga is good for crafting! The wrist exercises especially combat carpal tunnel and the whole program gets your body moving in ways you don’t normally move, thus fighting off repetitive motion injuries.

 

Interview Q7As for food, my husband and I eat pretty healthy. We don’t eat any fast food except for an occasional sub sandwich. And we just don’t buy junk food – no chips (crisps), no frozen meals, no candy bars. We do keep some dark chocolate in the house, and I do like to bake occasionally. My biggest weakness is the carbohydrates – rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes. Of course, some carbohydrates are necessary so I just try to limit how much I eat of these yummy things. Photo is of my kick-butt Kitchen-Aid mixer. His name is Bruce!

Bank Holiday

In the States, today is just another work day. Later this month will be Memorial Day, which unofficially marks the beginning of summer over on this side of the pond. Will I be doing anything special to mark the occasion? Probably not – just keep doing what I love to do, and that’s to stitch.

PetsScully dog resting her head on my husband's foot

We’re pretty darn dog happy around here. This is Scully. We became her people in February. She’s settling in well, don’t you think?dog Scully and my husband napping on the sofa

First Job

20030724 - USPS - staging area - mail pallet - 100-0001I worked at a greeting card factory for the better part of one summer. We would sort through tens of thousands of greeting cards sorting out printing flaws (ink blobs, misaligned colors, etc.). Sometimes there would be a few pallets (similar to the photo) of cards with a trace of ink dust on the inside. We would have to clean off the ink dust using paper towels and a tiny bit of water. Thousands of cards. Tedious.

They kept the factory cool and humid to keep the paper from curling, so we would have to wear sweaters to stay warm. Then at the end of the day, we would go outside to 85 degree temperatures at 15% humidity and feel our skin tighten as we left the building.

It wasn’t a bad job but it taught me very quickly that I did NOT want to do that for the rest of my life.

Favorite Social Media

Professionally, it’s Twitter, hands down. It’s a great way to see everyone’s stuff and quickly determine if it’s relevant for me.

Personally speaking, it’s Facebook, mainly to see photos and updates from my friends and family, especially those people with kids.

The next BEDM post is about Dream Travel. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great traveling experiences, so I’ll gather some highlights in another soon-to-come post.