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.