Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions -- Bah Humbug!!

Merriam Webster defines resolution as "a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent".   Since I've never been much of a formal person, I don't like the use of the word resolution to define New Year's intents.  When I make resolutions, they don't last much longer than the New Year's sauerkraut.  Soon they have been abandoned, even though my intentions were totally honorable.  So this year, I have decided to call them my "Hopes, Intentions, and Dreams", abbreviated HID's.  I've been thinking a lot about these HID's and have tried to come up with some that are achievable.  Here goes:
1.  Eliminate clutter from my life.  This includes food items that I bought and never used, cute little tchotchkes that just collect dust, and unnecessary emails that clog my inbox.  
2.  Adapt a more healthy lifestyle.  No, I'm not going to diet.  I've tried that route and it never works.  Instead, I will concentrate on making smarter food choices and trying out new fruits and vegetables.  I've never been a person who enjoyed exercise.  But in the coming year, I will try to find some type of physical activity that "works" for me.
3.  Make better use of my time.  This past year, I spent way too much time playing games on Facebook and on my Kindle.  I have decided to read more on the Kindle, and play less.  My life is about to change again.  I will be taking care of Izzy and Jake when Kristin returns to work on January.  It's been three years since I have taken care of a newborn, and as of Monday I will be back to changing diapers and feeding with bottles.  If I want to have some quilting time each week, I need to put my time to more constructive use.  
4.  Concentrate on the positive, push away the negative.  One of the ways that I hope to do this is by reading one of my favorite books "Simple Abundance".  The book is written in a journal form and you need only read each day's entry, which takes little time.  At a time in my life when I was very low, this book saved my life.  
5. Re evaluate my accomplishments and failures once each month.  This will hopefully keep me on track and give me the opportunity to make corrections to my route as I go.
6.  Work on or finish some projects for ME.    Daughter Mary told me yesterday that I need to stop feeling pressured to do sewing or quilting projects for everyone else.  I should just do "what I feel like doing".  What a novel idea.  Might just give it a try.

What are your HID's for the upcoming year?  Happy New Year, and I'll see you next year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Year Comes to a Close

Where did 2010 go? It seems like I blinked twice and missed it.  But so many good things happened for our family in 2010. Things to be so thankful for.  Grandson Bubba went the entire year without any hospitalization.  He did have a couple of seizures, but nothing serious.  

We took a family trip to Walt Disney World, all but daughter Kristin (who was pregnant).  Although it was hot in September, you expect that in Florida.  Not like the 2009 trip when it rained and was so very cold. I got more autographs for my Disney character quilt.  We had some really good times this year at Disney, times we will remember for years to come.

And we got a new grandson in November.  Here's a happy photo of Jake.

I completed five quilts to donate for an auction held at a Saddle Up Trail Ride to benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital.  I finished two quilts to be donated to Project Linus as part of Disney's promotion to Give a Day and Get a Disney Day.  

I attended a 60th Birthday Party for my high school graduating class, and hooked up with two of my very best high school buddies.  It was wonderful to see so many of my "old" classmates and to discover that we had all aged gracefully, had ups and downs in life, and suffered similar tragedies at some point.

All in all, 2010 is a year I will look back on with a smile.  And, now I will look forward to 2011 with excitement.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review and Resolution

Each and every year during the week between Christmas and New Years, I try to re-evaluate my life.  I try to decide how to maintain the things I liked and eliminate the things I didn't like.  I've never given this time a name, but as every program on every TV channel is doing their own version of "2010 in Review", I've decided to do my version of "The Year in Review".  Every year, I make my New Year's Resolutions, and every year by the end of the first week in January, they have fallen by the wayside into prickles and thorns.  So this year, I have decided to make resolutions that might actually be achievable.

I love bread.  No, no, not that pre-sliced, preservative loaded, stuff you find in plastic bags on shelves in supermarkets.  No, I'm talking about the beautiful, crusty loaves you see on shelves in your local bakery.  My granny lived with us when I was a kid, and made wonderful bread.  Each year our local Eastern Star chapter would pay Granny to bake 50 - 100 loaves for their card party.  They sold them at their bazaar and never had any left over.  Granny had a dark turquoise plastic basket (looked like a small clothes basket) that had gold sparkles in it, and it was her mixing bowl.  I would help her get her bread pans out of the storage room in the basement, and would grease them with a piece of muslin covered with lard.  Granny never washed those pans.  They were wiped clean, and then put away til next year.  I loved the smell of her homemade bread.  I had already decided last week that in 2011, I was going to master bread making.  After reading chatter on Facebook about this Artisan Bread book, I checked it out on Amazon.  And I ordered it.  I mean, how can you go wrong with bread in 5 minutes a day???

But the book I'm most excited about is this one.  It's a book on healthy bread.  As a diabetic, I'm encouraged to eat breads made with whole grains.  So I'm hoping that the breads in the book will satisfy my crusty bread lust, and fulfill my diabetic whole grain bread need.  I got a panini grill/griddle for Christmas, and just thinking about panini sandwiches on these breads is making my mouth water.  Before Christmas, I ordered some specialty flours from the King Arthur flour website, and am hoping to put them to good use with these books.  Doesn't this loaf on the cover look yummy??

So, with this purchase, I am on my way to realizing my first resolution -- baking healthy, homemade bread.  And now onto the next one -- tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tis the Day After Christmas. . .

Tis the day after Christmas,
And how I do sigh.
I ate way too much sugar,
And my numbers are high.

There were cookies and candy,
Which I can’t resist.
They went into my mouth
With a twist of my wrist.

They tasted too yummy,
It’s OK, I say
I’ll eat just a bit
And do better next day.

 The caramels were buttery
  I savored each bite.
The chocolate covered toffee. . .
It tasted just right.

I now have a headache
And am feeling quite poor
When will I learn?
I know better, I’m sure.

Today I’ve scolded
Myself every hour.
I’m not wanting sympathy
Just a little will power.

So starting tomorrow,
A good girl I’ll be.
I’ll follow my diet
And, better I’ll be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho!!!

Have you ever wanted to do something special for your kids or grandkids for Christmas?  Something really memorable. . . something secretive?  Well, I love doing surprises for my kids and grandkids.  A few years ago, I did Letters from Santa for my kids and nieces and nephews, and it was a great surprise.  They still talk about it.  This year I had a Letter from Santa sent to my grandkids.  Even the 10 year old truly believed the letter came from "The North Pole".  How do I do it?

Here's a photo of the beginning of the letters that I mailed.  I downloaded the snowflake stationary from the internet.  Using my graphics program (it's an old one, but I'm good with it), I added the Santa with snowman clip art.  I'm sure that you could really do this in a word program, too.  It's just that I'm more comfortable with the graphics program.  I then added the text that I wanted, and also created an envelope.

My dad was a postal carrier for 36 years and I learned a lot about the postal department.  What  a lot of people don't realize is that there really is a North Pole post office.  North Pole, New York was designated as a "rural postal station" in the 1950's, but now has it's own zip code (12997).I have always used this zip code for my letters, but there is also a North Pole, Alaska (zip code 99705).  After printing the letters, stuffing and addressing the envelopes, and affixing the necessary postage  to each of the letters, I put them into a larger mailing envelope with a note the the Postmaster asking him (or her) to please postmark the enclosed letters with the North Pole postmark and mail them to the kids.  Rod mailed the envelope to the North Pole on  Friday, December 10th and the kids received their letters yesterday.  They were so excited to have received a letter from Santa.  Izzy was most excited to find that she was on the "nice list".  Krissy was impressed that the letter came from the North Pole, but couldn't figure out what the N.Y. stood for.  You see, postal abbreviations aren't supposed to be separated with periods.  So, today I'm smiling a lot, knowing that I made a special day for my grandkids. I'm sorry that I didn't post this sooner, but perhaps you could file it away for next year.  Hope your holiday preparations are proceeding on schedule.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Do I Hand Piece??

The first quilt class I took was a class on Hand Piecing.  We did a sampler quilt and each block we learned taught us a different technique.  We learned straight line piecing with the various star, nine patch and card trick blocks.  We learned curved piecing with Drunkard's Path piecing, and then learned to arrange our blocks to our satisfaction.  Mine look like headlights.  We learned freezer paper applique with Rose of Sharon; applique with construction paper on Bridal Wreath; and ironing over a template with fabric sizing on Dresden Plate.  I found the hand piecing to be relaxing, and found that I could get perfect points with hand piecing.  During that class, which lasted one year, I made two queen-size quilts. This first one was the one that the quilt shop owner helped me choose fabrics for.  The colors were not at all like me -- but when I started to look at fabrics, they called out to me.  After having it long arm quilted by a professional, I gave this quilt to daughter Pat.

This is the second quilt top.  The blocks were constructed primarily with fabrics I had received in a grab bag.  When I started to sort and put these fabrics away, it occurred to me that they would make a beautiful quilt.  So, as I learned from my class, I would make two of each block, one from each fabric.
After this quilt was completed and long arm quilted, I gave it to daughter Pam.

Then I decided to make one for myself, and used scraps from the Be Attitudes quilt I had been working on.  I ordered extra fabrics for sashing, background, and borders.  And finished that quilt in no time.  I have never taken a picture of that quilt, and need to remedy that situation.

Hand piecing projects are "take-along" projects.  I trace my blocks, add the seam allowance, cut them out, and put them in a zippy bag along with a photocopy of the finished block so that I know how to finish them.  I just love my hand work.  So when I joined a brown bag swap, it seemed only sensible to hand piece still another sampler quilt.  I love the sampler quilts since you only do one of each block.  And, there are so many blocks to choose from.  For this quilt, I decided to try some blocks of a greater difficulty.  One that I chose was Quilter's Cache's Celtic Sunrise.  The directions said to "paper piece" this block.  I've never done any paper piecing, but figured if I pasted the templates onto template plastic, cut them out, and added the seam allowances, it would be OK.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  There are a bazillion pieces in this block.  And, now that it's all put together (almost) it's horrible.  It is puckered, doesn't lay flat, and just isn't what I expected.  It's a beautiful block. . . I picked great colors. . . but, it's nasty looking.  So I am asking myself "Why do I Hand Piece".  For the time being, the block has been put aside.  Maybe at some point, I will take it apart and try to fix it.  Or, maybe I'll just start over and try again.  Or maybe I'll just do something different. But for today, I'm using the "Scarlett O'Hara" attitude that I won't think about it today. . .  I'll think about it tomorrow,.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where is My Old Christmas Feeling???

Yesterday afternoon while talking to daughter Mary, I mentioned that I didn't even feel like Christmas this year.  This morning I repeated that sentiment, and she asked me why I thought that was.  And I started to think about it.  Is it because Rod's out of town?  Is it because I've been under the weather with some serious "crud" in my chest and a cough that doesn't seem to quit?  Is it because there is no tree or decorations up?  Or is it because there is no holiday baking done?   I still can't put my finger on the reason why, but I feel like Homer in the movie "Christmas Comes to Willow Creek".  Homer sat on the water tower for days because there was no Christmas feeling.  And that's me right now.  It's not really a "Bah Humbug" situation, but I'm just not feeling it.

Generally, I'm a very Christmas-y person.  Heavens, I listen to Christmas carols starting in October.  So, Mary told me this morning that she would send me a link to her friend Andi's blog.  She thought it was something I needed to read.  And she was right.  This girl's blog hit the nail right on the head.  And so today, I'm going to concentrate on the "Reason for the Season".  As I prepare the living room for the tree, I'm going to mentally make a list of all my blessings, all the things I have to be thankful for, and what I really need to do before Christmas.  And I'm going to spend a little quiet time just remembering my childhood Christmases.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

ME!!!  Wow, I am so surprised and am doing a happy dance.  Remember that I said that I never win at bingo. . .  well, I won.  While playing Holly Jolly Blog Bingo, I was the winner of the daily prize for day one.  It's an Advent Banner Box from Moda Bake Shop. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of this gift. Having been a German major in college, I learned to love the whole concept of the advent calendar.  I was first introduced to the advent calendar while in high school, and still carry on the tradition to this day.  My kids always had an advent calendar while growing up, and still buy them for their kids.  A few years ago, my Mom bought the girls and I each an Avon snowman with a tree that counts down the days of Christmas.  So a big thank you goes out to the girls at the In Stitches blog.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bingo Fun

While reading a friend's blog this morning, I found a blog that I'd never read before.  The blog is entitled In Stitches, and it is the blog from the Quilt Shop.  Starting tomorrow they are hosting a holiday bingo with fabric giveaways.  Sign up ends today, and it sounds like a lot of fun.  Why not jump over there and check it out?  I was never a good bingo player.  4 cards was my limit.  I think that the problem was that I'm a "people watcher" and was always so busy looking around that I forgot to watch my cards.  Quite frankly, I can't remember ever winning anything at bingo!  But I'm hoping that my luck will change.

I finished another block for my brown bag swap, and will post photos tomorrow.  Going to cut another block or two this morning.  Should get a lot of sewing done next week.  With the Big Guy gone next week, I'll need things to keep me from being too lonely.  Maybe I'll even wrap some gifts.  But for now, I'm just trying to keep warm since our area is in the middle of a deep freeze.  Bye for now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And Another Item Crossed Off

I am moving right along.  The three Christmas stockings that I had to make are finished and ready to be crossed off the list.

Got the bad news yesterday that Rod will be going out of town for a week.  A WEEK!!!!  I don't like it when my Roddy is away from home.  He doesn't like it either, but when work calls you answer (or you don't work).  What a nice break for him.  The weather forecast for our area for next week is highs in the 20's and it's been snowing here for what seems to be forever.  But the lucky duck, Rod, will be greeted with temps in the 60's.  He won't, however, be seeing my cheerful face!!

So, today, I'm trying to decide what I want to have for dinner next week.  My knee still isn't real good, so it will have to be easy and quick.  I've decided to boil some pasta and measure it into containers (only what my diabetic serving is allowed to be).  Then I can add tuna and hard cooked egg for a tuna pasta salad;  faux crab meat, peas, and chopped celery for a seafood salad; and lots of fresh veggies, salad supreme, some turkey pepperoni and creamy Italian dressing for a traditional pasta salad.  Then I can add some soup and crackers for a really simple easy and nutritious meal.  I always keep hard cooked eggs in the fridge.  Izzy calls them breakfast eggs, since we usually have one for breakfast.  They are a great snack.

I also need to hunt out my pattern for a christening suit for Jacob.  Kris has asked me to make his outfit for his christening after the first of the year.  This is the pattern that I have for a boy.  I made the suit on the bottom left for Bubby. It was made of bridal satin and  I quilted the vest before I attached it to the suit.  Rather than make the little booties,  I took a pair of white socks and sewed little white ducky buttons on them,

I think I'll try the suit on the right for Jacob.  It has little pintucks on the bodice.  I just need to decide which fabrics I want to work with.  Guess I should finish all my Christmas projects before I start planning something new.

Stay warm and sew your heart out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Item Crossed Off

I am doing a happy dance today as I have finished another item that was on my projects to do list.  I finished the quilts that I was making for one of Kristin's roommates from vet school.  She had twin girls in early October, and as I'm sort of an expert on twin girls, Kristin asked me to make two quilts.  Bridgett was doing the nursery in pink and brown, so I decided to do log cabin quilts in pink and brown.  I know from experience that twins like things to be the same and yet not the same.  So I chose different pink plaids for the center blocks, and used the same pink plaid for the bindings.  And voila, the same but different.

This is quilt #1.  I used a bright pink plaid for the centers and binding, and put it together so that there was a brown cross in the center, and four pink "diamonds" in the corners.

This is quilt #2, with light pink plaid for the block centers and the quilt binding.  It has four brown "diamonds" and  pink diamond in the center

I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.  The quilts are 48" square and are backed with anti-pill fleece.  Hope the mama and babies like them.

Now I have 3 Christmas stockings to make and I have to quilt my Mom's quilt.  Hurry, hurry.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another Thanksgiving. . . came and went

Yes, another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  And now we're all looking forward to the holidays.  We had all the family here for the afternoon meal, and the new pictures on the side were taken on Thanksgiving.  But there are some new photos of Jake that you just have to see.  Daughter Mary is the photographer in the family, and how she manages to get some of the shots that she does just amazes me.  Here, Jake is just snoozing after his  Thanksgiving meal.  He didn't have a care in the world.

They say that babies don't smile, but you tell me that he's not smiling in this one.  I guess Mary said "Say Cheese", and he did.

And this was his silent laugh!  He was "cheesin'" but no sounds came out.

But soon his fascination with Aunt Mary and her camera fell by the wayside, and he let her know that he was bored with the whole picture-taking routine.

Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one.  For sure, we had a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time To Step Back and ReThink

After months of not taking my diabetes seriously and thinking I could cheat just a little (which quickly and easily becomes a lot), I find that my number are a good bit higher than they should be.  My weight hasn't come down much, but luckily hasn't gone up.  And basically, I just don't feel as good as I should and could.  So, it's time to take a step back and rethink my life habits.

I've become a Facebook addict.  No really, I spend way too much time on Facebook.  I keep telling myself that I play all the games because it keeps my mind young.  Maybe that's the truth, but it isn't doing anything for my physical health.  I'm so out of shape that exercise isn't really much of an option for me.  I've been doing some extra cleaning out in the kitchen, and in the process found the meal plan that I was given when I received my diabetic diagnosis.  I've started to take it seriously, and have made up my mind that I will find a way to stick to it over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I've looked over my eating habits, and have discovered that I do pretty well during the day, but at night when I'm watching TV, I eat and don't even realize that I'm eating something taboo until it's already in my mouth and chewed.  I have to decide what things that I could do and not want to have dirty hands while doing it.  So far, hand-piecing is one of the things I want to do with clean hands.  Either reading or playing games on my Kindle is another.

I joined a  brown bag swap few months ago, and decided to use my swapped  fabrics to make a sampler quilt for my living room.  Since our quilt has to be finished by March 1,  I decided that I'd better get started.  This is a block called Castles in the Air, and it's my first finished block.  I really love the card trick block, and this looked like a variation to me.  Now I have to get another cut and ready to piece.

Today I will be busy making bread and pies.  But I'm figuring that while the bread dough is rising, I can work on quilting the three baby quilts.  I got all three pinned onto the fleece yesterday, and want to get them started.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lookey Lookey, What I Got!!!

You all know how I love my crock pots.  I use them whenever I can.  And I have two Fix It and Forget It books, along with other crock pot books.  I read crock pot blogs.  But when Hubby and I were shopping at Costo on Saturday, I was stopped in front of the display of these wonderful pots.  Suddenly he walked up behind me and asked if I didn't think that this was the greatest thing ever.  And immediately, he put one into his buggy.  I was overjoyed -- didn't figure he would ever agree to buying this.  And quite frankly, I think this would put me into the category of "Crock Pot Diva".  Wouldn't you agree?  The crock pots are 3 quart size (just perfect for two people) and are individually controlled.  And now I'm thinking about Thanksgiving. Some of us love stuffing with corn bread, apples, sausage, and raisins.  Others prefer the old fashioned sage stuffing.  And I don't cook my stuffing in the bird.  So, now I can do two kinds of stuffing in my new triple crock pots.  And, there's still room for another item.  Maybe mashed potatoes to stay warm.  Oh, the possibilities are endless.  Can you see the sparkle in my eyes???

And now I'm considering a new, or revised blog that will feature quilts and crock pot recipes.  If you're in favor, say aye!

On the quilt side of things, I'm putting the three kid quilt tops that are done onto fleece and getting them ready for quilting. I want to piece the backing for my mom's quilt this week, and then next weekend, Hubby said he will help me put it onto my Flynn Quilting frame.  I've had it for some time, and never used it, but now's the time.  And I'm jumping in with both feet.  So wish me luck.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Who can believe that Thanksgiving is next week already!!!  Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday -- family, football, and food.  It's my own little bit of heaven.  Since all the kids and their families meet here for our big meal at lunch time, I've been planning my menu and making grocery lists.  There's definitely a turkey, possibly my favorite meat.  Rod loves Thanksgiving -- and here he is "snitching" a piece of turkey while waiting on the meal to be ready.

Mashed potatoes and gravy (lots left over for hot turkey sandwiches) are always a must have.  Veggies are always a problem -- twins don't eat corn and Mary's family doesn't eat green bean casserole. After searching the internet for a recipe that everyone would eat, I decided to try this Cauliflower Supreme.  Everyone loves it, and I make one change to the recipe.  Instead of breadcrumbs, I use Ritz cracker crumbs.  Most years I have noodles -- guess it's the German in me coming out, but I love noodles on mashed potatoes.  It's a carb overload, to be sure, but I just can't help it.

Here's a photo of me cheesin' with some homemade bread.  Wow, these are old photos, my kitchen is now red with striped curtains.  Oh, the date says 2004.  I love experimenting with bread recipes, but the country white seems to be everyone's favorite.  I usually make a honey wheat bread also.  This year I'm trying a new roll.   I found this on the King Arthur flour website.  They are called Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns, and the picture alone makes my mouth water.

And here's a picture of the table before dinner.  The twins make the green peppers every year.  My mother-in-law used to make them and they are always a big hit.  She mixed cream cheese, Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese, and a little mayo and stuffed the green peppers.  Pam and Pat are the only ones in our family that still know how to do them.

Kristin usually makes devilled eggs -- hers taste most like Rod's mom's.  Mary is bringing two pies this year - a cherry macaroon, and a chocolate pecan.  And there has to be pumpkin pies.  I'll save the sweet potato casserole for the Christmas dinner since it tastes so good with ham as well.

My family had eggnog at their holiday meals, and I have carried on that tradition as well.  And now that the kids are all over 21 we usually open a bottle of wine before dinner, either a pink catawba, a spiced apple or a cranberry.  That's the story of Thanksgiving at my house, and now, I need to go get breakfast.  It's only oatmeal, but I can pretend can't I??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sew Cal's Christmas Quilt Show 2010

After reading Pat's post, I decided to enter Sew Cal's Christmas Quilt Show.   Click the button on my sidebar to get more details, look at some great quilts, and think about entering one of your quilts.

This is the first large applique project that I attempted.  It was in 2004, and I also tried my hand at free motion quilting for the first time.  The real kicker is that I made four of these - one for each of my girls.  Each one is different in the fabrics used, and I left enough room to add the names of new family members on Santa's list.

This is a sampler quilt made out of Christmas fabrics, and was made as  Christmas gift for daughter Kristin.  I love to do sampler quilts by hand piecing, and this was a lot of fun.

And here's another entry - a penguin quilt.  I had so much fun designing "clothes" for my basic penguins.  It was a gift for granddaughter Krissy, and she loved it.

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a Christmas quilt, but this is a train quilt I made for Krissy.  I had hosted a swap of licensed cartoon character fabrics, and used them for the engineer for this quilt.  There is Dora and Diego, Pooh and Piglet, Snoopy and Scooby Doo.  It was so much fun.

Sew Cal Gal is offering some great prizes for the winners, so hurry over there and enter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Add To The List and Cross It Off

I finished a project today.  It wasn't on my list, but I have to add it so that I can cross it off.  A few years ago, while shopping in Miller's Dry Goods and Fabrics in Charm, Ohio,, I found this pattern for a car seat cover.  It's made by Sew Baby, and is called a Peek-a-Boo Car Seat Cover.  It seemed so simple and yet so useful, and I suddenly wished that I had come up with such a great idea.  I don't know of any baby that has ever happily let someone bundle them up in a snow suit.  Izzy absolutely hated it.  So I bought the pattern and what I needed to make them, and made two for Izzy.  One out of pink sock monkey fabric for Kris's car, and one of pink John Deere for the seat for George's truck.  Kris said they were invaluable when she was in a hurry to get Izzy here before work in the morning.  Now, no Grammy worth her salt is going to let her new grandson use a pink car seat cover, so today my project was to make new seat covers for Jake.  I had already purchased the cotton for the top and the fleece for the lining, and (surprisingly enough) knew exactly where the pattern was.

George's dad is a farmer.  He raises horses and has a beautiful John Deere tractor.  So, the boy had to have John Deere.  This is the fabric I had chosen for Jake's quilt borders.  I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.  And so I ordered it.  I love to shop at  They have great prices, free shipping on orders over $35.00 (and who can't put $35 worth of fabric in a cart??), and best of all they are a member of ebates, where I get 4% back on all my purchases from them.  So, for me it's a win/win situation.

This is the fabric I ordered for the cover for the car seat on George's truck.  It's a bandana print (and what farmer doesn't use bandanas??) but if you look closely, you will see that it has the John Deere insignia and little tractors on it.  Cute, yet masculine, and perfect for a man's truck.

And now, both of the covers are done and ready to be used for the new little guy.  Now, I have to run the sweeper in the living room and pay some bills.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jacob Has Arrived

At 10:49 am on November 14th, Jacob Mcandless Hall made his entry into this world.  Jacob weighed in at a whopping 8-1/2 lbs. and was 21 inches long.  He looks huge to me, although his mom thought he looked pretty tiny.  My largest baby was 6lbs.4 oz. and the twins only weighed 3 lb.4 oz.  So you can understand why he looked so big to me.  As you can see, he has a lot of dark hair, and his hands are larger than the girls' were. But he has beautiful, long, slender fingers.

This is a more becoming photo.  Here, he's had his first bath and is sleeping peacefully.

You can see how happy and proud his big sister is.  Everytime he cried, she told Kristin that he wanted down to play with her.  Kris told her that Jake couldn't get down because he can't walk yet.  Izzy simply replied that she could teach him to "scootch" like Bubby does.

And she didn't quite understand why he wouldn't eat crackers with her.

In case you're wondering about his name, George, his dad and my husband are all John Wayne fans.  Jacob McCandless was the name of John Wayne's character in the movie Big Jake.  Kris and George loved the name but decided to spell it without the double "C".

And one final photo of me with both of my grandsons.  Aren't they the best?  I'm definitely one very proud and happy Grammy.  Welcome, Jacob.  Glad to have you as part of the family,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Update on Iron

I am back from JoAnn, and am pleased to report that there is an addition to my sewing family -- a new iron.  It's a Sunbeam and does everything that I need it to do.  And, it was on sale -- just a little over $20.00.  Today I was a bargain shopper.  All the fleece I needed was on sale and, of course, I bought the last of one of the bolts for half off.  The notions I needed for the baby's car seat covers were on sale BOGO - gotta love that.  I bought new nutcrackers for the granddaughters' collections at 40% off.  And I found really cool Christmas fabric to line the two stockings that I have to make.  All in all I spent over $100 but, with the coupons I had, I saved $85.53. And that's not bad.  I love saving money, I love spending money!

Taps for my Iron

Well, this morning we are playing taps for my iron.  My beautiful, beloved, purple iron has bit the dust.  It has been declared legally dead by the chief serviceman in our home.  And who was the murderer, you ask.  A stink bug.  Here to the left is his "most wanted" poster.  For weeks now,  in our area we have been under attack by these nasty looking and smelling stink bugs.  They are everywhere.  Rod has a jar filled with water and Dawn dishwashing liquid that he uses to imprison all captured invaders.  And usually when he's on bug patrol, Izzy is by his side pointing out all who try to avoid the jar.  This little "bugger" evidently tried to outsmart the Rod/Izzy army by seeking refuge in the inner workings of my iron, and it burned out the heating element.  The only positive spin that I can put on this is that "Stinky" also bit the dust.  So I guess you could say it was a murder/suicide. There will be no service.

Now that it has been said and done, I'm off to Joann Fabric to get a new iron and several other things.  Bye for now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank the Lord, it's Friday

It's been a very long week.  Oh, I know it's only 7 days like all the other weeks, it just seemed longer.  Kristin went to the OB on Tuesday, and was told the baby would most likely come this week, but that she should make an appointment for next Tuesday just in case.  But so far -- no baby.  No one is more anxious than Kris is, she is huge, her hands, legs, and feet are swollen, and she's just tired.  She took on more hours at work since her employer doesn't pay maternity leave, and disability isn't an option unless there's a problem with the pregnancy.  Normally George drops Izzy off when Kris has to be at work at 8:00 am, but he has a guy on light duty and has been covering his shift.  This means longer hours for George, and longer hours for Grammy.  Thank Goodness that Izzy is a really good girl, and has started taking an afternoon nap again.  These hours have limited my sewing time, but I've really accomplished a lot this past week.  The baby's quilt top is finished and ready to be quilted.  The log cabin quilts for Bridgett's twin girls (who arrived early in October) are ready to be quilted.  And when I got Mary's Toy Story quilt out to start working on it again, I was thrilled to discover that 8 blocks are ready to be stitched, 3 are traced onto fusible, and only one block needs to be traced.  Not bad.

The quilts aren't quilted yet because I need to give them a good ironing, and for some reason, my lovely iron isn't heating.  I found the cord laying on the floor (I always wrap it up and put it on the buffet), and have a feeling that somehow, someone knocked the iron onto the floor and won't admit it.  So, I have to go and buy a new iron before I can finish these quilts.  Rod said he would check it out, but as of yet "hasn't gotten around to it".  I noticed in my Joann ad that they have irons on sale right now, so hopefully I can find a nice one either tonight or tomorrow.  And then I will again be busy, busy, busy.  Hope you've accomplished a lot too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

36 Years and Still Going Strong

Today is our anniversary.  We were married 36 years ago, on a day that was much like today is predicted to be.  It was warm in the afternoon and our ceremony was at 4:30.  But by the time we ventured outside for photos, it was into the 40's and we were all freezing our various body parts off!  Oh to be that thin again!! We were not permitted to throw rice, because Saturday night mass was scheduled for 6:30.  Nothing like getting the bum's rush.  There wasn't even time for photos there at the church after ceremony.

This is the photo taken of us with Rod's grannies.  Notice the concrete block walls that should tell you right away that they were taken inside the fire hall where our reception was held.

And these are my grandparents.  The lady next to me is my beloved Granny.  She loved the dress she wore, but it was sleeveless. And she didn't want her "jello arms" to be out for public viewing. To make her happy, I bought the sheer fabric, and took some of the fabric left from when I hemmed her dress and made the sleeves with the cuffs.  The gentleman with her is her second husband.  I never knew my Granddad Peters, he passed before I was born.  But she had dated Pap Leonard as a young girl, and then married Granddad. They met again years later at a class reunion and decided to marry.  She was 79 and he was 81.  She was so cute when she announced to me that she would be married.  She had to be sure to tell me that they wouldn't have any children.  Duh,  I was 22 years old and had kind of figured that out.  I really miss her, and wanted to grow up to be the kind of granny she was.  I think I come close.

And so, time marches on and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Busy - busy

Can you say busy, busy, busy in the voice of the late Billy De Wolfe, who did the voice of Professor Hinkle in the Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman?  Well, that's what I've been this morning.  Jacob's (that's what we'll call him for now) quilt is an ongoing project.  And finally this morning, I put together the background and fused the pieces in place.  I must say that the "quilter's license" continues, and that I didn't place the pieces where they were on the original pattern.  But I like the way it looks, and just felt that the cow and pony should be close to the barn.  I know the picture isn't the greatest quality, but my talents do not and never have extended to photography.

I've been staring at the quilt and trying to decide what colors to use to stitch down the appliques.  Should I use just black or will it be too harsh for a baby quilt.  Or, I could use matching threads.  Or I could use a thread that's a little darker than the applique piece. Kristin just dropped Izzy off to stay with me while Kris goes to her OB appointment, and says I should just use black to stitch down the pieces because it sounds easier.  Let me hear your opinion, please.

After Kris picks Izzy up, I'm hoping to finish up the log cabin blocks for the baby quilts I'm making for Kris's old roommate.  So, I'm moving right along.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making Some Progress

I'm finally feeling satisfied that I am making progress on my projects.  I told you about the Halloween wall hanging that I finished.  And finally, here's a photo.

While watching football last weekend, I traced off the appliques for the new grandson's quilt.  When I find a pattern that  I really like, I reuse it in different ways.  A few years ago, a girlfriend gave me an unfinished  cross-stitched baby quilt that she got at a thrift store for only $1.00.  I haven't finished it, but it's really cute.  I had traced around the cross stitched pattern to make a coloring quilt for one of Kristin's former roommates and his wife on the birth of their daughter.  But for my newest grandson,  I have traced the pieces in reverse onto fusible web, and have gotten them fused onto fabric.  I'm cheating a little, though.  In an effort to eliminate some of the smaller pieces, I have decided not to do the bunny with the fence, the scarecrow with the fence, and the chicks.  It's a more difficult project than I've undertaken before -- I have bought blue and green fabrics to use for the sky and grass areas, with a white on white for the large cloud.  Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to sew them together.  But, I will persevere, and get it to look the way I want it to. I always like to challenge myself. The fabric I purchased for the border is green with baby farm animals, and cute green tractors.  (His other Pap has John Deere tractors).  I don't remember how much I bought, but I'm hoping that I had the foresight to order extra so that I can make a car seat cover for him.  I'm sure that you've seen them -- they make the car seat look like a little papoose carrier with nothing but the little one's face peeking out.  It saves Mom the hassle of fighting to get a coat or snowsuit on.  Sure wish they had invented these when my twins were little.

And finally, I'm stripping the last 27 blocks for the log cabin quilts I'm making for another of Kristin's roommates from Penn.  She having twins any day now, and they are doing the nursery in pink and brown.  Once the log cabin tops are pieced, I'll post photos.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things Change -- and Sometimes It's a Good Thing

Let me start with a story.  Years ago there was a little girl named Mary.  Mary loved to play school, but she always had to be the teacher.  And since she was the oldest of four girls, she most always got her way.  >>>>> Fast Forward.  Mary goes to college, and has to decide what her major will be.  It's not an easy decision -- will it be elementary ed. or accounting.  Since all the economists were projecting a bad future for teachers and good careers for accountants, Mary decides to major in accounting.  >>>>>>>> Fast Forward again.  Mary graduates, and gets a job in accounting.  But soon the job involves wearing many hats.  She does customer service, marketing, web design, and some accounting.  And suddenly her company is sold, and Mary must go with the new company.  Many days, Mary isn't happy, but she trudges along.  But life gives you many bum deals, and one November Thursday morning when Mary gets to work, she is informed that her job has been eliminated and she is laid off as of 10 minutes ago.  She is to pack her stuff and go home.  Mary is in shock, but has a good cry and then picks herself up, dusts herself off and prepares to move on.  But she doesn't find a new job.  Most jobs don't pay what she made before, and some even tell her that she is overqualified.  So, she becomes more active in the schools that her kids attend.  She goes to help out with learning centers in her son's class and chaperons school field trips.  She talks to administrators about new learning options for her son.  And she becomes his greatest advocate.  She builds friendships with her children's teachers.  And one day, she learns that her son's aide will not be returning.  So Mary researches what she needs to do to qualify as her son's aide.  But she doesn't have the necessary qualifications.  Just when she thinks there's no hope for a future in education, she learns that our local Intermediate Unit offers a class whereby she can obtain her Certificate for Emergency Substitute Teaching.  Mary signs up for the class, pays the fee, and then waits for the class to be offered.  In the meantime, she obtains all the clearances that will be required, and talks to the guidance counselor (a former high school classmate) and the administrators (some of whom she had as teachers in school) about the possibility of substitute teaching in our school district.  And finally, she gets the call that the class is full and is scheduled for October 12 and 13.  Mary makes all the necessary arrangements for her kids, and takes the class.  She gets the physical and TB test that is required, and submits her paperwork.  Last Friday, she received her certificate in the mail.  And last night at 10:00 pm, she got a phone call asking her if she could sub for the teacher that her daughter had last year.  And so, today my daughter's life is undergoing a serious, but exciting change.  She's returning to a career in education in the school district where she began her education.  And, her mother's heart is bursting with pride to see her daughter set a goal and then work to achieve that goal.  Today, life makes a big change, and for sure, it's a good one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall is in the Air

My favorite time of the year is the fall -- the smell of burning leaves (which you don't smell too much anymore), apple cider, pumpkin pie, and lots of football.  I love the colors of fall -- oranges, golds, browns, and reds.  Rod and I were married in 1974 -- right smack dab in the middle of the crushed velvet era.  This is a photo of me with my sister and sister-in-law that was taken at our wedding.  Yes, those gowns are orange, bright orange.  Under the capes, the dress had a V-neckline.  My sister-in-law, Kathy said that with the cape on she felt like Batman, and with it off, she felt like Irma la Deuce.  The girls carried baskets of straw flowers, and even my bouquet was dried flowers.  Our wedding was on Nov. 9, yep in the fall.  My gown has long since met its end, but take a look at the veil. The Juliet cap ended up pretty crushed, but the veil is still as beautiful.

And here's the happy(?) couple just after the ceremony.  Don't we sort of look like a couple of deer in the headlights!!  Notice the dark green crushed velvet tux that the groom is wearing.  Hey, we were the face of fashion.  We were young, no gray hair.  And we thought we had all the answers in life.  Didn't realize that we didn't even know the questions!  But then again, had we known then what we know now, I wonder if we would have done it all over again. We've had quite a ride, and came through with just a few minor bumps and bruises.

And while I'm talking about weddings, this is one of Mary's wedding photos.  This wedding was done on a budget.  They told us in April that they wanted to be married in July.  She wanted to be married in Steeler black and gold.  I told her I'd make the dresses, but refused to put their names on the back.  LOL.  I made all the dresses in this photo. Mary's dress cost about $27.00.  Definitely made on a budget.  My girlfriend did the flowers, and Rod and I catered all the food.  His family all pitched in as kitchen staff, keeping the food table stocked, and washing all the dishes.  But notice Mary's veil.  Yes, it's mine minus the cap.
And here's a photo from Kris's wedding.  I made her gown, and the gowns for the flower girls.  Kristin always loved red and black.  In fact, she always said that she would be married in red and the attendants could wear white.  She compromised.  But the dress was trimmed with red and black, even the beads that I hand sewed onto the hem and the sleeves. Cost for her dress -- about $250.  It was brocade, and the trims were a good bit of the cost.   And see her veil -- mine again.  How cool is it that both my girls (and one of my nieces) wore my veil at their weddings.

But, now back to my love of fall.  There's a crispness in the air, the brightly colored leaves are falling fast, the garden is finished, and in the morning there's frost on the grass.  So, this weekend I'm having a mock Thanksgiving.  We've bought the turkey breast, I have leftover buns to make into stuffing, and the makings for  a couple of pumpkin pies are in the pantry.  And the squirty whipped cream is in the frig.  And I'm dreaming of turkey dinner, hot turkey sandwiches, and homemade turkey pot pie.  Wanna come over for dinner???

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Turning Sixty

On Thursday, I turned sixty.  Sixty. . . Sixty.  Just doesn't seem like sixty should be a word used to describe me.  I remember when my Dad was sixty.  I shouldn't be that old.  I don't feel old - at least not today.  But I'm sixty.  My granddad died at 56.  I've passed that.  My dad died at 66.  Will I make it that long?  My great grandma, on whose birthday I was born, lived to the ripe old age of 94.  And my wonderful granny lived to be 93.  Did I inherit those genes?

Turning 30 was easy.  I had just had twins. Add in a 3 and  a 4 year old, and I was too busy to even think about thirty. I had a really difficult time handling turning 40.  My dad was in intensive care, and although my girls had planned a special dinner, my mom and sister chose to go to play cards at my aunt's.  I was so hurt that day that told my sister that I would not celebrate her 40th birthday.  Should never have said it -- she died at age 37.  I learned that year to keep my vindictive threats to myself.  Fifty didn't seem to be a big deal.  And I just wasn't sure how I felt about sixty.  Other than a word, it didn't seem to matter much.  But everyone else seemed to think it should be a big deal, after all it was another milestone.

So, Mary and her sisters decided a soup supper/birthday party would be a good way to celebrate.  We've done soup suppers before and they are always a lot of fun.  Pam bought decorations and put them up on the back deck.  Mary sent the invites, and specified that each family was to bring a pot of their favorite soup.  And the planning began.  Mary made Carrot/Ginger soup, a soup that we had at Boma in Walt Disney World.  She also made chili and sangria.  Mmm.  A good start.  Pam and Pat made wedding soup and super large pot of hot cocoa.  Delicious.  Kristin made pumpkin soup with cinnamon raisin croutons.  Loved it.  Rod's sister Kathy and the two of her girls that she lives with brought kielbasi soup.  It has the kielbasi, potatoes, onions, stewed tomatoes and buttermilk in it and it was a speciality of my late brother-in-law's.  Niece Becky contributed her version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana, and her mother-in-law made homemade vegetable soup that tasted a great deal like my granny's (minus the fat on the meat).  I made a pot of hot caramel apple cider.  It was also a hit. And we had some really good breads - Italian, Pugliese, cornbread and cranberry walnut bread.  It was a good night for a soup supper, by the time everyone left we were into the 40's.  We had a really nice time and laughed a lot, which I think keeps one young.  We were all to stubborn to let the cold win, and the crackling fire that Rod built helped.  Pam and Pat had bought 3 kinds of sausage from our local butcher and some hot dogs to go along with the soups. They tasted good cooked over the fire.  

I had requested no gifts -- nobody listened.  Rod had gotten me the Kindle and Mary's family and the twins got me the orange lighted cover that I had asked for.  Kristin's family gave me two DVDs -- A Hard Day's Night and The Great Outdoors.  Kathy's family gave me a beautiful burgundy chrysanthemum.  Nephew Tim and wife Julie gave me a beautiful nutcracker for my collection.  He stands over 3 feet tall, and also gave me a Burt Bee's manicure collection.  Becky's in laws gave me a gorgeous fall wreath.  And Patti and Al gave me 5 scratch-off lottery tickets.  I've got to be one of the unluckiest people in the world -- didn't win a single dollar on them.  It was a great thought, though.  What kind and generous friends and family members I have.

And so another birthday has come and gone.  I'm sixty, and I don't feel one bit older than  I did at 59. But since it's supposed to be a milestone, how about a quilt pattern called Turning Sixty.  Hmmm, I'll have to get on that - someday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Making a List. . . It's a Good Thing

I've always been a list maker. .   My dad was a list maker. . . My daughter is a list maker.  I think it might be genetic.  But I believe that making a list is a good thing.  First, you can see in black and white what you have that  needs to be completed.  Secondly, and probably most important for me, as you accomplish one of the items on the list you get the satisfaction of crossing it off.  But sometimes I cheat!!  If I do something that wasn't on the list, I put it there just so I can cross it off.  And after making my mental list on Sunday, I finally feel like I'm accomplishing something.  Yesterday morning, I put the final borders on the quilt that I started a year ago for my mom.  And I plan to quilt it myself, it's too close to Christmas to ask my favorite longarm quilter to squeeze it in. After finishing the borders, I neatly folded the quilt and put it on the huge pile of things on the buffet in the sewing room.  And what do you think caught my eye -- the Halloween wall hanging I started last year.  It was all appliqued  and it was sandwiched and all ready for quilting.  What better way to practice free motion quilting than on this wall hanging??  I love to quilt with variegated threads, and found one in my stash that was turquoise, yellow and orange.  And, I figured it would be perfect for quilting my wall hanging.  I quilted it yesterday with feathers on the owl.  Not bad for a first attempt.  So, I moved on to the other panels.  And I tried to quilt "bubbles" on the ghost.  They aren't round, but I like them.   I quilted stars in the stars, and tried to do a wood grain in the broom handle.  Again, not perfect, but I like it.  This morning, I ironed the binding that had already been cut and pieced.  The binding is on, and sewn down.  The buttons are added to the owl's eyes.  And my wall hanging is ready to be hung on the door that leads to the basement.  Of course, it means taking down Santa Claus.  If you've ever seen Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, you know that the characters sing a song "Keep Christmas with You all through the Year."  That's what I've been doing -- Santa Claus in the living room, a Christmas tree quilt in the bathroom.  Yep, Christmas all through the year That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Rod says he will miss Santa Claus, but I assured him that he will be back in less time than we want him to be.  Ho, Ho, Ho.

Monday, October 11, 2010

OK. . . OK. . . OK. . .

I didn't get my sewing room cleaned.  So, maybe I am a slacker!  But in my defense, I'm injured!!  Strange things happen to you as you get older.  Things that you have no control over.  Things that you can't even explain.
Sometime between the time Rod left last week and the time he came home, I turned my knee.  Not the knee that usually bothers me, but the good knee.  I think it happened in bed while I was sleeping.  I think some gremlin came into my room and just twisted the h**l out of my good knee.  It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, and it hurt to walk. So, I never made it back to the sewing room after Tuesday.

Yesterday, I lamented to Rod that I had not cleaned my room as I had planned.  And I was trying to figure out in what order I needed to finish my current projects.  Rod (gotta love him) asked me if I was having trouble finding what I needed to use for these projects.  "No," I replied.  "I know where everything is".  And in his wisdom, he replied, "Then why would you consider moving any of it right now?"  See how smart he is.  And together we decided how I would proceed with my projects:

l.  Put the last border strip on my mom's quilt top, press it and then put it away neatly for now. I will quilt it after the new baby is born.
2.  Finish the two log cabin quilts that I'm making for Kristin's former roommate who is expecting twins any      day now.
3. Work on the special quilt that I'm planning to make for my grandson, who is expected in mid-November.  I may start tracing off the appliques this week.  (If I can put down Punkin, my new Kindle)
4.  Finish the Toy Story quilt that I started for Mary.

This seems like so much to get accomplished between now and Christmas, but if I just proceed one project at a time, I should be able to get it all finished on time. (Or close to on time)   And since all that was decided, the weekend could proceed.  Saturday morning, Rod and I played lazy, talking and drinking coffee.  Saturday afternoon we went to Krissy's last game, where our team was playing the teams on which my great nephews play.  Then, home for a quick bite to eat so we could take our pills.

And to daughter Kristin's for a bonfire birthday party for step-granddaughter, Jessica.  Isn't she a beauty?  She graduated from high school in May, and is currently attending a local college and working two jobs.  It was a costume party, although we didn't dress up. Jess was dressed like an Indian -- sort of.  I don't recall their dresses being that short.  LOL.  George was dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, and he really looked the part.  Kristin was dressed like a serving wench, and we all teased her about spending too much time on Captain Jack's lap. She's beginning to look like she swallowed a hot air balloon. But we had a good time, and Kristin made a really good guacamole dip that had egg salad layered with it - I know it sounds weird, but it was really delicious.  And so much other good food.  We left about 9:00, but the party went much later than that.

Sunday was an awesome day.  We Did Nothing!!!  I love days where Rod and I spend the whole day doing nothing.  Well, maybe not nothing!!  I read on my Kindle, played Facebook games, and then read more on my Kindle.  Rod watched football, played Facebook games, and checked his eyelids for holes.  The twins joined us (and cooked) BBQ'd pork chops, potatoes grilled with parsley and chives, and Brussels sprouts with cheese sauce.  Maybe not real healthy, but oh so good.  All in all, it was a great weekend, and I hated hearing the alarm go off this morning, telling us it was Monday.  Oh, well.  Time marches on.