AQS Show Des Moines–Quilts, Shopping, Walking

The AQS Show in Des Moines was a great time! Kimberly and I walked and shopped and dined our way through Des Moines, laughing the entire time. I’ll let you take in the quilt show stats and recap at her blog, and confine my first report to some thoughts and impressions:

Never let your husband (or any male, significant other or not) buy a laptop computer for you to travel with. His goals (big screen real estate, high processor speed and low price, in that order, and weight is no object) are vastly different from yours (lightweight and small, in that order, and price is no object). Pick out your own and save your back and arms when traversing three or more airports in 15 hours.

Never take just one pair of shoes, or even two, especially if they have any sort of heel or semi-pointy toes. Always have a flat backup pair with a big toe box, even if they’re ugly, don’t go with your clothing and your grandmother wouldn’t have been caught dead in them.

Never assume that the guy at hotel check in knows that you hate being right by the elevator, ice machine, soda machine, stairs, etc., or that you like to have a bathtub as well as a shower to keep your options open. Just be high maintenance from the get go and tell him what you want.

Never rely on the show literature to tell you the true walking distance from your hotel to the convention center. They measure it as “the crow flies,” completely discounting any required twists and turns through skywalks, around major buildings or via crosswalks that will save your life. If the show book says it’s .5 miles, count on a mile and a half. Each way. At least twice per day.

Never discount the value of a big breakfast at the hotel regardless of the cost. It will likely be the best and cheapest meal you have all day until dinner, which you’ll probably be too tired to enjoy properly or even consume the greater portion of anyway. And breakfast delivered to your room is even better since you can eat at your leisure (the only leisure you’ll enjoy all day as well) and have some quiet cups of coffee or tea. It’s only a couple of dollars more than eating in the restaurant, and for less than a twenty spot extra for the week, I’m there.

Never discount the benefit of laughing until you cry about something so totally off the wall (like chewing gum) that when you share it with someone later, they just look at you and say “I guess you had to be there.” When it happens though, it’s probably a sign that you need some sleep…

Never tell anyone back home that you’ll write, call, chat on IM, update Twitter, or otherwise communicate while you’re away. Chances are you won’t because you’re either too busy or sleeping like the dead, or wishing the jet lag would go away so that you could sleep at all.

Never commit to blogging while you’re on the road either. While you’re out at the show or shopping, you’ll think of all kinds of things to say on your blog, but by the time you get back to your room and the computer, your mind is complete mush and you won’t remember any of it at all.

There you have it. I did do some serious damage to the plastic, both at the mall and at the quilt show. I’ll share pictures of the loot from the quilt show in the coming days, just as soon as I gather it back up again. I had a blond moment when I unpacked and put it all away in my studio before I thought about it!

I’ll leave you with this shot of the show floor at the convention center, taken from the upper level:

Show floor at Des Moines

More to follow…

Pod Invasion

Pod invasionI’m not much of a coffee drinker when it comes to drip brewed coffee. It’s bitter, and even with milk and/or sugar the average cuppa joe doesn’t do anything for me. My morning poison has been Orange Cappuccino from GFIC for 20 plus years, though I do like “regular” coffee if it’s made into something like a real Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato or something equally frou-frou and high maintenance.

ITMan started drinking the Orange Cappuccino instant coffee by default at some point shortly after we married, since he’d make a pot of coffee and drink one cup and the rest would still be sitting there when he came home from work. He doesn’t hate the instant (he’s not that picky), but he still might prefer brewed coffee in the morning. The “cup at a time” solutions we tried over the years tended to be too much fussing around for him to use just to make a cup of coffee before work.

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker

The last single serve solution we tried was an AeroPress from Aerobie, which really does make the absolute best cup of coffee ever with no bitterness whatsoever, but it’s just too much work and too many steps in the wee hours of the morning no matter what they say about 30 seconds from start to coffee in your cup. I love it for making cappuccino in the afternoon or after dinner, but I almost can’t push the plunger myself with my weak wrists, I’m always afraid that the cup is going to tip over under the pressure during the pushing stage and leave a giant mess all over, and ITMan just isn’t going to go there in the morning and I can’t say I blame him.

Enter the Pods. ITMan’s been raving about the coffee maker that someone in his office has and lets everyone use. He says something about it at least three times a week, how simple it is, how good the coffee is, or that he must go buy more pods to contribute to the communal supply because he’s been drinking more than his fair share. I nod and smile, knowing that he’s less picky about bitterness, and even more of a techie gadget guy than I am, and that the machine is undoubtedly a “gadget.” Despite all that, I knew it was only a matter of time and opportunity before the gadget would arrive on my counter top.

Philips Senseo Pod Coffee MakerSure enough, while shopping for an air conditioner at Media Markt (more on that later), ITMan couldn’t resist the call of this very special machine. I finally just shook my head at him, insisted he get a silver one instead of bright blue, and watched while he collected half a dozen bags of pods in all different types and flavors to go with his new gadget.

And does it make the grade? Well, as single-serve coffee solutions go, this one ranks high for ease of use, and the coffee itself is pretty good, though still rather bitter, to me. Part of the “big deal” about this type of coffee maker is the foam, or “fine crema layer” it leaves on the top of the coffee, though not being a coffee aficionado, I’m not sure why it’s such a big deal. I will give it high marks for making cappuccino, since it’s ever so much easier than the AeroPress, and when you add the frothed milk and sugar I can put up with the bitterness a bit better than if I was drinking black coffee straight up. Cost is a factor though, since the Philips Senseo Coffee Machine costs 5-6 times what the AeroPress does, and of course, there are those special coffee pods to consider, which naturally cost more than even loose ground gourmet coffee. Surprisingly though, the Pods are quite a bit cheaper here in Europe than in the States, even with the dollar being as weak as it is these days.

My coffee cabinet has now been invaded by little bags of pods in seemingly infinite varieties, and using the new coffee machine is the deal of the day for everyone in the house. You can get pods to make Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato (without having to froth your own milk), and even tea if that’s your poison. Not wishing to be left out, LittleOne even uses it to make her SwissMiss hot chocolate, by running the water through without a coffee pod in the machine. I may try to get a different brand of pods, since the Senseo brand is made by “Europe’s renowned” Douwe Egberts, and I wasn’t too awfully impressed with that brand before it was sold in pods. Perhaps Illy would be smoother and less bitter. All in all, I’d give the machine an A++ for speed and convenience, and the coffee it makes a B.

What does all this have to do with quilting, you ask? Sometimes quilting requires chocolate, coffee, and Cosmos, though not necessarily all at once or in that order. Anything that makes coffee quicker or saves cleanup time is a good thing. Now, if only Cosmopolitans came in pod form, I’d be even happier. 😉