Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today's The Day

This afternoon Rod and I will be leaving for Lancaster.  I was scheduled to take a class there, but I have decided not to take it.  We haven't been away since December and with all the hours that Rod has been gone with being on overtime, I just want to relax and enjoy his company.  Since our hotel is a distance from the show, it would mean getting up very early and rushing through breakfast in order to make the show on time for the class.  So, I'm passing on the class.  Izzy hasn't been feeling well this week, and I've spent a lot of hours with her in my arms.  When she is tired or not feeling well, she just wants to "rock-a-bye" as she calls it, and that means Grammy holds her (sometimes for hours).  It's a tough job, to be sure, but sometimes my arms cry for mercy.  And I think I'm looking forward to the trip more than ever now that I've decided to "skip" class.

My list for the show is almost non-existent -- I can't think of too many things that I really need.  However, I think I'm going to look at the AccuQuilt Go.  It's a die cutting system for fabric.  If it's in my price range (and they're promising some good deals at the show), it just may jump into my shopping bag.  I use a lot of 2-1/2" strips, and they have a die for cutting them.  My rotary cutting skills are lacking since I have to sit down to cut, and it's not something I enjoy.  So, this cutting system would be a welcome addition to my quilting necessities.  But we'll have to see how good their deals are.

And so, most of the packing is done, the scooter is in the car, and Rod is home from work.  Mary had a Royal Ball with Bubby this morning, and since she's my backup babysitter today and tomorrow, we will leave when she gets home from the ball and her lunch with the other mom's who were helping out with the ball.  It's a big day for the kindergarten class.  They all dress up and go to the Ball at a local restaurant called "Shakespeare's".

Here's a shot of Bubby all  dressed and ready to go.  Doesn't he look like a little man?  When Mary put his tie on, he got so excited because he had a tie like Pappy.
The restaurant is part of Old Stonewall golf course located in our township.  It's really impressive.   The castle is a massive place with a square footage of some 30,000 square feet.  It's stunning, and the landscaping is just beautiful.  It's always a special day for the kids in kindergarten.  The inside is every bit as impressive as the outside.  As you enter through the huge wooden door, you truly feel like you have entered the castle of some great king.

There are suits of armor, swords, coat of arms and other medieval articles to make you feel like you have stepped back in time.  We ate Mother's Day brunch there one year, and although the food was pretty good, I don't know if I'd go back again.  It was definitely pretty pricey.

And so, here's hoping that Sir James of the Bubba has a great time at his Royal Ball.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting Ready to Go

The Lancaster quilt show is this weekend, and I'm  scheduled to take a class from Donna Poster.  I've seen Donna several times on Simply Quilts (Alex Anderson's former show) and have always been fascinated by her way of doing things.  The class I've signed up for is called "My Batiks".  The class description says:

  It’s easy to rotary cut and match perfect points – without pinning! We’ll have fun playing with many versions of this technique that can be used in future quilts. From two-color to scraps, it’s always a beautiful quilt!

Making perfect points is not one of my greatest skills, and the thought of doing it without pinning --  well, that just tickles my fancy.  I had decided to use some batik FQ's that I have for the centers, but then DD Mary asked whether it was something I could use for the Saddle Up raffle and the wheels started spinning.  I most certainly have 10 fabrics that I could use in this quilt, and after looking at the fabric requirements for the lap sized quilt, decided to use them.  And I could learn while starting a quilt for the Saddle Up.  You know, sort of killing two birds with one stone, as they say. The sewing machines are provided for this class, and that's something new for me.  Always before I've had to take my own machine,  but for this class we just have to take universal needles and basic sewing supplies. And so now I'm off to the sewing room to start my fabric fondling  searching for the perfect fabrics for this class.  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nancy

Today would have been my sister's 56th birthday.  I say "would have been" because she passed away in 1991 following surgery.  You should have known my little sister.  She was a real party in a person.  She was in intensive care when she passed away.  She had worked for several years at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh as a labor and delivery nurse.  Her surgery had been at Magee Women's and she was surrounded by doctors and nurses as they were preparing to move her to a regular room.  Surgery was a success and soon she would be going home.  She was sitting up in bed telling a dirty joke (as Nancy was known to do).  And suddenly she was gone.  A pulmonary embolism had struck, and although they tried for many minutes to revive her, Nancy was gone.  When the intensive care dr. called to inform me of Nancy's passing, he said that she had suffered a massive coronary, I (unwilling to believe that she wouldn't have survived) asked how she was.  Finally he had to just blurt out that my sister was gone.  I'll never forget the wailing of my mom when I informed her.  And how difficult it was to tell my father who had been in the hospital for what seemed like forever.  You can see her here posing in a goofy hat, and can see what a character she was.

This is a photo of me and my little sister in the late 50's in our front yard.  That's the Ohio River in the background.  My mom used bobby pins to make my hair that curly, but Nancy's was all natural.  See, I was skinny once!  She was such a cutie.  When I was in first grade, we lived close enough to Vanport Elementary that we walked home for lunch.  One day my teacher was looking out the window and called me over.  Was that my little sister on the corner, she wanted to know.  And yes, it was.  In her short shorts and flip flops, Nancy had walked to school to meet me.  One of the neighbors worked at the post office with my dad and was off that day.  He called my mom to tell her that Nancy was at school.  Mom was so angry, and after that, Nancy was tied to the glider.  We didn't think of it as child abuse then, but it sure would be now.

Nancy was my best friend, although we did have our confrontations.  She was also my maid of honor.  Nancy never married,  she had a hysterectomy at a very young age, and after that felt that she had nothing to offer a man.  One of the biggest sadnesses of my life is that Nancy never knew what it was to be unconditionally loved by a man.  She eventually started working as a travelling nurse, specializing in labor and delivery.  My dad used to tell people that Nancy delivers babies, and Linda raises babies.  Nancy loved travelling, and worked in California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland after she started travelling.  But wherever she was, we talked on the phone every day -- sometimes for hours.  I missed her so much when she wasn't around. 
One of the things that Nancy was most proud of in her life is that she had been to both Disneyland in California, and to Walt Disney World in Florida.  And here she is with her "good buddy" Mickey Mouse.  Like so many others who visit Disney, Nancy was hooked -- she was a Disney Fanatic.  You can't believe how many Disney items we found in her belongings after she passed.

And so, my dear, sweet, loving, little sister, I salute you.  There's so much in my life that I wish I could have shared with you, and by the way, you would love my grandkids.  I don't think I will ever stop missing you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.  I'm getting ready to go out and put my corned beef and cabbage into the crock pot.  My mother-in-law was most definitely Irish and very proud of it. She always cooked corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy's Day, and when she could no long stand to cook, I took over.  How do you celebrate St. Pat's Day?  Daughter Mary is making green cupcakes.  Not quite sure how I feel about green cupcakes, but I've never really met a cupcake I didn't like.

I've been busy putting together my first quilt for the Saddle Up.  I like to try to use "Stash" when I can, and this was most definitely a "stash buster" quilt.    Even the border fabric was left over from the quilt on my bed.  I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.  I had a bugger of a time putting it together - nothing seemed to fit right.  Seems that the yellow block was supposed to be 8.5" x 9.5" with the longer edge being the length.  Guess who fused the horse on the wrong way.  Oh Yea, that would be me.  Once I figured out what was wrong, I added a piece onto the bottom and cut 1/2" off each side and voila . . . things fit together just right.

I was supposed to keep Izzy today, which means no sewing.  But daughter Kris just called and said Izzy is sick with a fever and vomiting.  She's the last of the grandkids to have it.  Krissy had it two weeks ago. That Friday, she had stopped vomiting, but was still not feeling up to snuff. She wanted to try out for Termite Cheerleader.  If you don't go to school, you can't participate in after school activities on that day.  So Krissy stuck it out through the day and made it for cheerleader that night.  We're all so proud of her.

Then last week Bubby had it for two days.  He missed two days of school, but had no seizures.  That's a first because for him seizures usually accompany high fevers.  And now Izzy is sick.  George is able to stay home with her until Kris gets home from work.  So guess who is gonna sew today.  Me.  Have a good day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Diet Dilemma

Oh yes, this morning I have a dieting dilemma.  Remember earlier this year I was determined to lose some weight??  Well, my granny had a saying about the best laid plans of mice and men. . . .  and although my plans were well laid, they have not come to fruition.  And why is that, you ask.  Well, here's my dilemma.  When I'm in the grocery store I have really good intentions.  I buy low fat, sugar free, high fiber foods.  I read labels, and have read more diet books that Carter has pills.  But, when push comes to shove, the foods that are best for you seem to take more preparation.  And when you're in a hurry for lunch, it's so much easier to grab something that is probably not as healthy as what you should be eating.  And let's face it --  unhealthy foods just taste better than the other alternatives.

I've heard so much about subliminal stimuli, and decided to give it a shot.  So yesterday, I made a new screensaver.  I call it my "fat screensaver".  These are two of my "cards" which pop up on my screen.  And there are more.

Like this little guy.

And this one which may be my favorite.  This is exactly how I feel some days.  Keep in mind, that these are for my own viewing pleasure(?) and I don't intend to be infringing on anyone's copyrights.  I'm just hoping that when I am thinking about grabbing something that is supposed to be a no-no for an overweight diabetic, these little not-so-subtle reminders will stop me in my tracks.  I don't eat when I'm on the computer, so hopefully the screensaver will be effective.  Oh, I realize that it will take more than a screensaver to accomplish some semblance of success, but I hope that it's a success.  It was so much fun looking for the little extras, and it's always easier to take self-criticism that to accept it from others.  The food police make me grumpy, to say the least.  And that's my dilemma -  to eat or not to eat. . . . . that is the question.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Here

Oh, yea!!! My old laptop has been giving me fits.  It was a refurbished one which I bought in 2006, and it was overheating, disconnecting from the internet whenever it felt like it, and moving so very slow.  So I bought a new one, and it arrived yesterday.  It was time. . . and I'm giving the old one to my Bubby after we get all my stuff off it.  His was a used one also, and just plain quit.  And that little guy loves playing games on the laptop.
This is my new buddy -- I haven't named him yet.  Do you have any suggestions?  He came with Windows 7, which is taking some getting used to.  I think I will love it once I learn to use it.  And he is soooo fast.  I just have to think about something, and that cursor is moving.  (sometimes when I don't want it too).

And I have signed up for a class at the Quilt Odyssey in Hershey in July.  I had posted photos of the quilt patterns that Bonnie Hunter offered for free on her website.  Well, as luck would have it, Bonnie is teaching a class in Hershey.  When I tried to sign up last night, the class was full.  But on a whim, I checked this morning and some seats had opened up.  And was I doing the happy dance?   Oh yes I was!

And here's the quilt we're going to work on.  And it's done with 2" strips.  So, I will be thinking about which stash fabrics I want to use, and cutting my strips.

We've had 5 or 6 days of sunshine in a row, but the weatherman says rain will move in overnight.  That's OK, though, because the sunshine we've had has certainly charged my solar battery, and I've gotten some sewing done (finally).  Rod is working 10 hours a day, and so I have an extra hour in the morning when I can sew -- if I wake up enough.  I have two quilts started for the saddle-up and I am pleased with how they are shaping up.  Hopefully I can do a lot this weekend since it's supposed to rain, and (like Henry on Noggin) I don't like to get my feathers wet.  And so I say, Sew On, McDuff.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wow, another Tuesday

Weeks are flying by so quickly, and it seems like spring just may be here.  Here in western Pennsylvania, we've had 4 days of sunshine in a row.  Temps have been in the 40's and today even hit 50.  And I'm loving it.

My laptop has been giving me fits, and so I ordered a new one which arrived today.  It's unpacked, charged, and I've played a little; but, all my stuff still needs moved from one to the other.  But it's recipe Tuesday, and I need to get one posted, so I'm on the old one right now.  Since warmer weather makes me think of ice cream, I thought I'd post the recipe for Buster Bar Dessert.  When I was selling crafts at various shows, I loved doing Secret Santa Shops at the elementary schools.  And one year, the lady in charge of one of the shops brought this in for lunch for the vendors.  It was delish!  So, here's Buster Bar Dessert:

Buster Bar Dessert

1 pkg. Oreo cookies, crushed
½ gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 can Spanish Peanuts
1 jar Hot Fudge ice cream topping (warm if necessary)
1 tub Cool Whip
Recipe instructions:
Layer the first four ingredients in a 13 x 9 cake pan, saving ½ cup  crushed 
cookies for topping.  Ice with the cool whip.  Sprinkle with left over cookies.  Freeze 
until firm.  

So, what could be easier.  Quick, Easy and Oh so Good!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Boxy Stars Update

Do you remember when I first showed you this photo?  It is a quilt called "Boxy Stars", and it is a free pattern on Bonnie Hunter's website,  I fell in love with pattern when I saw it, and so decided to do a version of it for the Saddle Up.  As I've mentioned before, each year our family volunteers to help with a Saddle Up Trail Ride to benefit the kids at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.  This trail ride is sponsored by DD Kristin's father-in-law, owner of Skyline Stables.  Check out their website for photos and information about the day.  My part of volunteering is to make 4 or more quilts to be raffled off during the day.  It has become a very popular fund raiser, and the rider's have embraced the idea.

This is one of the quilts that I made in 2008 for the Saddle Up quilts.  Many times I use scraps from other projects to complete these quilts.  So, when I began thinking about what to do for this year's Saddle Up, I turned to my stash to find what I had to use.  A year or so ago, I made bandanas for the kennel with some bright pink and turquoise bandana fabrics.  And, I don't throw much away.  So I pulled them out, and began cutting strips for the boxy stars quilt.

This is the first block I made with the Boxy Stars pattern.  I love the look of this block.  I plan to stash it with a black/white small print, and think it will look pretty sharp.  But there's a catch.  I have a really nice sized piece of the pink left, but after doing six blocks I have no more turquoise.  And since the fabric is from 2006, I've not been able to locate anymore.   However, in my stash I have a piece of blue from a Mary Engelbreit collection.  The girls have all weighed in, and they feel that this will do fine in the quilt.  I'll just do six blocks with the pink and the new blue and alternate the blocks.

And finally, here's the light blue with the finished block.  I think it will be OK.  And hopefully will get a block done with it tomorrow.  What's your opinion?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's Recipe is .....

For dinner on Monday night, I tried a new recipe that daughter Pam had seen prepared on the Rachael Ray show.  I'm not much of a chili eater, but this was so good.  The texture of the hash browns mixed with the cheese was great.  The only substitution I made was to use white kidney beans instead of the red kidney beans. So, here's the recipe.  

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper
1 can red kidney beans (15 ounces)
1 can diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (1 pound)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.

In a large saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the onion, chili powder and cumin, and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Transfer to an 8-inch x 11-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and cheese. Scatter the potato mixture over the chili. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the chili is bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Please Hurry Spring

Today is March 1 and I am so glad to see February go. Here in the Pittsburgh area, this was the snowiest February in the record books.  My nephew called on Saturday, and when I told him that I had only been out three or four times since Christmas, he replied, "Geez, Lin, don't go out - the snow will be over your head."  I'm only 4'8" tall (or short) and it's close.  We've had 42 inches of snow.  I was never one to like snow, never was one to play in the snow.  No snowball battles, no snow angels, no sled-riding and very little ice skating.  I'm more of a spring/fall person.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Like Goldilocks of the fairy tales, I like it to be just right!

And that's part of the reason that I'm asking Spring to make her entrance shortly.  When Bubby called yesterday, he told me he wants the snow to go away so that he can play baseball.  Says he can't play now -- the ball falls into the snow and then you can't find it.  And I told him that I just want to see green grass, leaves on trees and happy birds, singing their hearts out. So today I chose a picture of new leaves on a tree.  It made me happy to think that soon my maple trees will look like this.  My daffodils will be popping their little trumpets out of the ground, and the tulips will make their timely appearance.  Oh I do so love spring!  It's Mother Earth's way of cleaning house and making our world bright, clean and hopeful again.  And that's just what I feel when the earth's greenery starts to pop through the snow and brown grass -- hopeful.  Have a day full of hope and anticipation.