Off The Beaten Path

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed the writings about thread, I do realize that it was a little intense. So I decided to keep it light this time and give you some fun things to ponder. I know some or most of you know that I was a bit "out of touch" these past days. I suddenly realized that not everyone has "wifi". I was at first able to get on the site and add comments but it wasn't long before I was even unable to do that, so it was a bit frustrating to say the least.

We went to Texas to visit my brother, but decided to stop in New Orleans so that I could see Bourbon Street. While that was cool, our stay turned sour when we arrived at the hotel. They are definitely not ready to have visitors again at this particular hotel. I won't get into the details but let's just say that it wasn't as pictured on the web site. We were scheduled to stay two nights but left after one so as not to take any "hitch hikers" with us. Then there was the issue of the vehicle burglary of the car next to ours. That is when we decided to chalk it up to experience and leave.

I loved walking about on Bourbon Street, the food smells, the music, the little kids who were dancing and it wasn't long before I was drawn in to a little bistro where I heard some of the best darn Jazz I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. I didn't want to leave that area it was so wonderful. I left humming the tune Summertime, I had just heard.


I had two objectives in going to Texas, one was to get our PT Cruiser Paint Detailed and the other was in hopes of being able to go to the Texas State Fairgrounds for a sewing expo. As usual, the best laid plans never seem to quite work. My oldest brother, Jerry and his wife, Cindy, also met us there. My brother (the artist) took his time and did some fancy work on the car, while it wasn't the flames we had hoped for, he really did a wonderful job. It looks awesome! I didn't make it to the Expo, but I did have a chance to chat with my Sister-In-Law, Star, ( yes that is really her name) who sews leather purses and makes dog collars.


Don't you just love the paint job?                                                                   


 Hard Top     Convertible Top


You can see by the photos that she does spectacular work. She works on a Pfaff 180 commercial machine. Star went commercial because of the nature of sewing on leather. She has several places that she obtains her leather from, and even has some whole hides that while very beautiful, are very pricey. It really took me back to the days at the trim plant when I was sewing leather car seats. It also made me pine for the days of having a commercial machine to work on period. There have been many times over the years I have wanted one again. Keep in mind as you look at the photos of the details of the little car and how nice they look, that she does not have an embroidery machine. Each medallion takes her one hour or more to stitch, depending on how much detail there is to them. While she did divulge a few secrets to me about the construction, I had to promise my first born that I wouldn't tell. I can say that they are extremely well constructed, and would last a number of years.

We had a lot to talk about, she picked my brain for things like stabilizers, embroidery machines, needles and many other aspects of the details. I showed her the Ann The Gran Stabilizers and explained to her that if she used them it would save her some time. She had been using some iron-ons instead of the adhesive backed. Each purse is hand cut and stitched, it even has lining in it. Some have pockets for things like cell phones and change. The conch's are the same as what she uses to make her dog collars. The purses came about when they joined a PT Cruiser Club called, Big D Cruiser Club. Each one takes her two and one half days from start to finish. She got very busy with them, but unfortunately had to set things aside when her Mother became very ill.

Both my brother Richard and Star are into Greyhound Rescue. The collars she makes stemmed from them belonging to the rescue group and having several Greyhounds. They even have one named Mac, that they have trained to walk around with a small container for donations to the greyhound rescue group. I had the opportunity to watch as she carefully selected the beads, conch's, and nylon cords, webbing and "o" rings for this particular order. She then began constructing the collar. Let me just say that if one ever does break, it certainly won't be from poor construction.

  Mac wearing one of the collars.


They have two greyhounds, both rescued from the abuse of the track. Their names are Mac, pictured above, and Jenny. They are both wonderful dogs and I don't know how anyone could look into their eyes and not fall in love with them, or abuse them either for that matter. Jenny and I formed an attachment immediately. Generally not a lap dog, it didn't take her long before she was up on my lap giving me "hugs". She was one of the significantly abused dogs and had tell tale signs of it. You could see on her haunches where she had fallen off the back of a truck and had been dragged. Luckily, while her injuries were significant, they were able to save her life. I had made the decision then that when the cats are gone, I would defiantly adopt a greyhound. They are so quiet, I didn't even know they were in the house. They are smart as well as loving.

This is why Star began making collars. Each one is made for each dog. These dogs all have different sized necks, so she takes the measurements on her website then makes the collars according to the beads, conch's, and neck size. Royal Image Collars are handcrafted with 250 pound (per strand, 6 strands per collar) tested nylon cord, nylon webbing, welded metal ‘D' and ‘O' rings, and acrylic and metallic beads. They are sturdy enough to hold even the largest of dogs. Martingale style collars used on Greyhounds were essential for their protection and the collar of choice. When fitted properly, these collars keep the Greyhound’s narrow skulls from slipping out of them in panic. Rescued Racing Greyhounds of today, should they get loose, are not familiar with the dangers of the world around them because they have been raised in seclusion. Because of their fright in new and strange surroundings they avoid coming easily to strangers to be caught. For more information on her purses and collars, or even if you want to chat with her about rescuing greyhounds, contact me and I'll be happy to send you her details.





So I didn't get to the expo, but I did have fun with the trip, and my family. I did manage to sneak in buying some fabric as well.( imagine that). My two brother's are a lot of fun to be around, and as usual I left there with my sides aching from the laughter. No matter how long we are separated, we still always manage to have fun.

Until next time>>>>>     Remember to K.I.S.S someone you love today.

Judy (Travelin' down the road)

Photos Courtesy of: Tom alcumbrack, Judy Alcumbrack, Star Smelker, Royal Image. com

All photos used are copywritten, and I obtained permission from the authors.Wink


Suzy's tip of the week >>>  Whenever you are traveling, always take a list of things you would like to look at or buy for your sewing needs. Different states and areas have different types and styles of fabrics, threads and embellishments. You never know, you just may find that treasured item to make a gift a bit more wonderful and an heirloom piece to pass along to other members of the family.

Comments (14) -

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.  I enjoy seeing photos and yours are terrific.

I cannot imagine Bourbon Street but your description made me more aware  I could love that place.


Sounds like a great trip, Judy! Love, love the dog collars.

Hi Pat,

Thanks, but realized all too late that the band was standing in front of a mirror, so the flash hit the mirror and the rest is history. Couldn't wait for Tom to Photoshop it. Like Ann, we take photo's of everything, then sort them out later when we get the chance. Hubby is into a new project of creating DVD's of our vacation photo's, so far it has been really fun.

If you do go to Bourbon Street, keep in mind that it is not a particularly clean city, but there is a lot of history there to broaden one's perspective on life in general. It amazed me how little many of the folks who reside there have, and how they deal with the struggle of daily survival. However, the music is heavenly, and the food delish! I could have listened to that band all night, they were simply devine. The kids dancing was very special as well.They didn't have money for tap shoes, so instead crushed cans and stuck them to their sneakers somehow. It was interesting as well as educational.

Hi Ann,

Yes we had a lot of fun and it was good to get away. I see you had a great time warming up that Kohls card! I made Discover extremely happy also. Really wished we could have stayed a bit longer, but the kids (the cats) here were very lonely when

we got back. They are like stick tights now.

If you would like to chat with Star about her collars or just read about them on her site, give me a shout and I will send you her information.

Thanks Ann, and Pat.


Hi Judy

Thanks for sharing your vacation. What wonderful dogs. And those collars.......WOW.

I have done bead work, but those are just gorgeous.

My husband does leather work also, and I know the cost of those hides... whew!!! He does not do any of the sttiching like on her purses. He does leather carving and stamping.

Her purses are wonderful.

thanks again for sharing. Between your and Pat's vacations, we can almost feel like we went somewhere also.   ;^)

cme   8^)

greyhoundmomr 10/25/2008 5:40:04 PM

I love the greyhound collars!  We too have two greyhounds and I have a small business making coats for greyhounds.  I would love the details on the collars - our local greyhound group might be interested as well.

jalcumbrack 10/25/2008 5:45:37 PM

Thank you CME,

I love to travel, but I love to come home also. It is always interesting to me how folks live in different parts of the US, and abroad. Also what they do for entertainment. We really did have a wonderful time. My brother and his wife are both extremely creative people. Besides her collars and purses, she also is taking care of her Mother full time,she sings like an angel. My brothers all play music, sing and so do the rest of us. It is always a happy, wonderful, and joyful time when we get together. Richard also does painting and leather carving, on top of everything else. He also plays guitar, bass and keyboard, as well as writes many of his own tunes. I think they got all the talent in that direction. I do sing but, believe it or not, I am very shy and find it difficult to appear in front of an audience. I have done it, but it is not as easy for me as for them.

My oldest brother and his wife, RV full time and they play music and sing in many of the camp grounds. She plays bass and sings, and he plays guitar, mandolin and banjo.

I grew up with music in the house the biggest share of my life and realized in my later years that they were some of the best times we had as a family. I never realized how much I missed it until we get together again. So we had an old fashioned jam session two of the many nights we were together. We all sang and had a great time.

Oh lord I'm gushing again, aren't I. Star does beautiful work on everything she does. I can't imagine sewing those designs the way she does it with no embroidery machine! I keep telling her there is an easier way. I know as soon as she can she will be getting one.

Again Thanks, and I am glad you liked the trip.


jalcumbrack 10/25/2008 5:49:30 PM

Hi Greyhoundmomr,

That would be fantastic, you can contact me through this site. Just go to my profile page, on the left there is a menu of things to do. Just click on the e-mail, compose your message and send it. I promise I will get it. Thanks for your interest, and I am sure Star would love to hear from you. ( I still miss the dogs!)



Glad you had fun on your trip! Star's work in awesome. I love her dog collars. . . special collars for very special dogs! I commend her for working with greyhound rescue. I've never met a greyhound that I didn't fall in love with. I am truely amazed by recue dogs. They are all so loving after all they've been thru.


Hi Rosie,

Yes she does do some beautiful work, the pictures don't do them justice really. They are amazing. They have worked with rescue organizations all over the US, and they even donate to several of them on a regulr basis. They are truely amazing people, who give of themselves on a regular basis.

These dogs are truely amazing, the only thing they really require is love. That is not hard to do when you look into their eyes. My heart goes out to all that have been saved, but there are still many more out there that need to be.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog, I love seeing all that return time after time.


greyhoundmomr 10/27/2008 12:57:07 PM

Hi Judy,

I have tried to send you an email - but keep getiing an error Frown  However I googled royal image collars and found her web site.

I have 4 greyhounds that are retired imagine my surprise when I opened the latest newsletter (the first time ever) and got to hear who you met.  I'll have to check and see if anyone I know knows Star and her two greyhounds Mac and Jenny!  Greyhounds are why I'm doing embroidery too...them along with my neice that needed some embroidery done. Smile

Nice paint job and sorry about those critters down in LA...that would have soured my trip too.

If Star is on Greytalk...tell her I'm VirginiaGreys.  Thanks for your letter.

jalcumbrack 10/28/2008 6:20:23 AM

Hi Greyhoundmomr,

Yes they had some issues this last week with this, I too had the same issue, I reported it to the site and here is what they discovered,">

I am glad you found her though, enjoy!

Thanks for your comments too dwhitely! I will let her know, but if you go to her site, you can e-mail  her directly, but I will tell her for sure to look for you.

Thanks too, I love my little PT now! (We are still getting flames on it, Tom ordered them last week) Can hardly wait to get them on. Yes my brother and Star are multi talented,(I still think they got it all, no wonder I thought I was adopted!)

I am going to be doing some things with the rescue groups as well, I want to embroider some things for Star to donate for their auctions they have to raise money, and like I said, when the kitties are gone, then I will be able to have one. Until then I can only play with them.(I promised hubby I wouldn't get another animal until the cats are gone,Or I would have a house full)

Thanks everyone for all of your wonderful comments! It is nice to know how many animal lovers there are out there.


Love the tattoos on your car!  Those dog collars are also beautiful - lucky puppies to have such a talented mom.

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