Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Climb Out of the Rut

I have officially declared Tuesday to be "Climb Out of the Rut Day".  As the days become shorter and more gloomy, I am beginning to feel like I'm stuck in a rut.  I need to "use it up"  rather than throw it out; and so to spice things up a little, I'm going to try new ideas to help me climb out of the rut.  I don't know about you, but it seems that I cook the same things over and over again.  Last night, we were having pork chops (not turkey!)  but I wanted something different from the old barbequed chops.  So, I looked around the kitchen and found some apples that were a little past their prime.  So I searched on Allrecipes.com for a recipe that used apples and pork chops.  I found one that sounded really good, but modified it a little to save on dirty dishes.  Maybe give it a try.
2 T oil                                                             2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup chopped onionn                                  2 T brown sugar
4 (1/2 in. thick) pork chops                             1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. salt                                                     1/8 tsp. ground cloves
ground pepper to taste                                    3/4 c. hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in large skillet.  Add pork chops and brown on both sides.  Remove and place in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add onion to skillet and saute for 1 minute, or until tender.  Cover the pork chops with apples and cooked onions. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, cloves, and water.  Pour over the pork chops.  Cover and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.  

I used the leftover mashed potatoes and made homemade gnocchi and after boiling them, added them to melted butter.  Before serving, I sprinkled them with parsley and parmesan cheese.  It was something different, very delicious, and is therefore termed a success.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to Work

The extended Thanksgiving weekend has passed, and now it's back to work.  I just can't believe that we have so few days left until Christmas.  And there's so much to be done.  I continue to work on Christmas gifts, although at this point, it's doubtful that I will finished everything I wanted to do.  I've got a few of the doll outfits cut out.  It seems to work better for me to cut a couple and then spend the time to sew them.  I have a little plastic box that I'm putting them in as I cut them, and so it's less likely that I will lose any of the pieces.  I know, it seems too organized for me.  But I'm trying to change.

All the shopping that I planned to do is finished.  I did not battle the crowds on Black Friday - I did all of it from the comfort of my living room, feet propped up.  I got some really good deals, including some free shipping.  So, I'm pleased.

Thanksgiving was planned for my house, but on Wednesday I was viciously attacked by a flu bug.  There's no way I could cook dinner (not sure if it would have been healthy for everyone else, either), so we rescheduled our family dinner for Saturday.  Thursday morning, the twins showed up here with a frozen turkey to replace the thawed one that was in the refrigerator, and all the fixin's for a simple Thanksgiving meal.  I was still not quite myself, and so Rod and the girls made the stuffing, stuffed the bird (21-1/2 lbs.), and put it into the oven.  Later in the afternoon, they came back with pies, and prepared the rest of the meal.  It was so good, but there were a lot of leftovers.  We thawed the other turkey (22-1/2 lbs.) in preparation for our official Thanksgiving meal with the family.  For this meal, I made cornbread sausage stuffing in addition to the routine sage stuffing.  Mary brought baked corn pudding and a pumpkin roll.  Kristin brought deviled eggs - she makes the best, they taste just like Rod's mother's.  And the twins brought the pumpkin pies and whipped cream.  I had bought whipped cream, and according to Rod, we had 114 cans of whipped cream in the frig.  But he is prone to exaggeration!  It was so warm that the kids were able to pose for a picture in their turkey shirts on the back deck.  Hope your holiday was a safe and happy one.

Well, it's time to go back work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Being Scotch CAN Be a Good Thing!

I've told you before that I never throw anything out.  But, being part Scotch, I also try to save money whenever and wherever I can.  The ornaments for my
Advent calendar are quite small, and it just killed me to put only one on each piece of stabilizer.  So, I fiddled around with the buttons on my machine, and discovered that by moving the center to each of the four corners, I could put FOUR ornaments on each piece of stabilizer.  I was doing a happy dance.  And here's a photo of the first four ornaments still in the hoop.  It was a good day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Am I a Glutton for Punishment?

Just 43 days til Christmas, and I don't have half of what I wanted to do finished.  And yet what do I do?  Take on another project!  As a German major in college, I became enthralled with the tradition of the Advent Calendar.  My German professor brought calendars back from Germany for the students in her classes, and I was hooked.  I've always had an Advent of one sort or another (the ones with chocolate in them are cute, but the chocolate is horrible), and so when I got an email from Designs by JuJu  about her new Advent calendar, I had to check it out.

It's an adorable design, the ornaments are completely finished "in the hoop".  The pockets, likewise are made "in the hoop", and are made from felt.  Each ornament is made complete with a buttonhole for hanging, and you put the buttons on the tree.  Each pocket is large enough to hold the ornament and a little treat.  And so, the design has been downloaded, the instructions have been printed and put into page protectors in a report cover, the tree pattern has been printed and is ready to "cut and paste", and I've made a list of things I need from the fabric store.  I know, I know, it's a large undertaking at this point in the year, but I just couldn't help myself.  So I guess the answer is Oh Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting It Done

 Yesterday I didn't have the kids at all, and boy did I get things done.  I've been working on Christmas gifts, and had purchased the pattern for a 1 yard apron.  I have quite a stash of 30's repro fabrics, and decided to use those for these aprons.  This is the first one, done in blue puppy dog with light blue and plaid pockets complete with eyelet lace trim.

This apron was probably my favorite of all the aprons.  Green and orange are my two favorite colors, and this apron showcases both of them.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of the orange gingham to do the waistband, but I liked the yellow.  And the pocket is trimmed with an ivory and brown lace.

I really liked the floral in this apron.  I pulled the lime green and orchid from the print and used them for the pocket, ties and waistband.  The orchid plaid trim is some homemade binding left over from a quilt.  As I always say, I don't throw anything away.

And last, but not least is the peach apron.  I pulled peach fabrics from my stash and trimmed the pocket with some double layer lace.  Now that these are done, they can be put away for use as Christmas gifts.  Now I need to decide what to work on next.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Monday

Yes it's a happy Monday.  The kids should arrive in about 1/2 hour, and I haven't seen them in almost a week.  Not a big deal for most grandparents who live a distance from their grandkids, but when you're accustomed to seeing them nearly every day, it's a big hole in your life not to see them.

Last week, I had planned on selling embroidered neckties to earn a little extra money.  I found some beautiful ties at a really great price on the internet, and ordered 4 to try.  This is my first attempt, and I'm not really thrilled with it.  You can see that it puckered, and I'm hoping it will iron out.  I do think that I figured out what I did wrong.  The needle in my machine is the same one that I used for applique embroidery and heat and bond, and I think it probably wasn't sharp enough.  So before I try the next tie, I'm planning on changing the needle to a new ball point needle.  Hopefully that will make the difference.  Have a great day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Man Wears Many Hats

As many of you know, my hubby is my best friend.  Over the years, he has worn many hats -- husband, father, caster of ceramics, maker of furniture, train collector, cook, gardener, laundry man, and comedian.  But on Friday he took on a new hat - that of an arbitrator.  He had an extra 1/2 day vacation time which he decided to take on Friday afternoon.  He called Kris and went to her house to talk.  Then he came and talked to me.  He was a great arbitrator, and the bottom line is that the kids come back to my care on Monday.  Gosh, how I've missed them.  The kisses, the giggles, the kid's programming - I'll be glad to have them back.  So now, many of the new plans that I had in progress will fall by the wayside.  There will be no selling on Etsy or anywhere else.  But my intent to to something healthy for myself will proceed.

This morning, daughter Mary turned me onto Bento Box lunches.  A completely new concept for me, but one I can really live with.  She linked me to this Easy Lunch Box page, and now the mental wheels are turning (yes that's the smoke you're smelling) to come up with good lunches for Izzy and I.  Jake will be a year old on the 14th of this month and it won't be long until he will also be needing a lunch.  Lunch time always seems like a busy time for me, and I end up grabbing whatever is handy.  This will, hopefully, eliminate that rush.  I've ordered a set of containers, and will start packing my easy lunches as soon as they arrive.  Today, the sun is shining and I am smiling once again.  Here's looking forward to a bright future and Happy Holidays once again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Unhappy Ending

Today it appears that my days of providing day care for my grandkids has come to an end.  It's what I have done for the past eleven years, and I've always been good at it.  But this week, an argument, words spoken in anger, and a botched effort to solve the problems are the reasons that Izzy and Jake have been removed from my care and put into a structured day care program.   I am deeply saddened, and feel that my life has come crashing down around my ankles. I miss my grandkids,  and would give almost anything to have Izzy run in here and give me a big hug and a kiss.  But I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. I know what effect this is having on me and I worry about what it will do to them.   The holidays are so near, and I don't know how to bring my family back together for what have always been family times.

My wonderful MIL always said that God doesn't close a door without opening a window.  I searching for that window.  I've never been a quitter, I've always been a survivor, and I'm sure that this time will be no exception.  But I need to find something to do with my time.  I will go stark raving mad if I have to sit here all day with nothing to do. And you can only use so many quilts.  We only have one car and Rod uses it for work.  Physically, I am not able to work at a full time job.  I used to sell crafts in stores and stopped that when Bubby came into our lives.  Yet, these years later, that isn't a realistic solution.  I'm debating on selling items on Etsy, and am currently researching that possibility.

Maybe this is the time to concentrate on myself and my health.  I'm not an exerciser, but a little movement would be a start.  Menu planning and cooking healthy meals are now more of a possibility.  For now, I will continue to pray and meditate on what life holds for me as the next act of my life begins.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Krissy

Meet Hines Nerd - not really, it's granddaughter Krissy.  She is a big, and I mean BIG Hines Ward fan.  Here she is in her Halloween costume - she calls herself Hines Nerd.  And today she turns eleven years old.  I keep wondering where those years went.  Most days she seems so grown up, and yet every once in a while we still glimpse that little girl.  Last night when they came to trick or treat, she asked her Pappy in her little girl voice to make her some "noodle soup" (Ramen noodles).

Krissy and I have been special buddies - it's more than just Grammy and granddaughter.  When Bubby was born and in the hospital for so long, Krissy spent most of her time away from her parents with Pappy and I. When Bubby had seizures and needed to be taken to the hospital, Krissy stayed with me.  It saddened me that when he needed the shunt replacement, Krissy chose to stay with her best friend and not her Grammy.  It was a sign that she was growing up, and I understood.

Krissy, like her Mom, feels that Disney is the happiest place on earth.  She has loved meeting all the characters, but Chip and Dale are her favorites.  Here is a photo of Krissy with Dale during our 2009 trip.  Such a happy little girl!

 And, dressing as the characters is really special for her, too.  Here she is from our 2010 trip dressed up like Mary Poppins.  Mary took her by the hand and took her to some other tables to introduce her as "my twin".

And this photo is from our most recent trip in September 2011.  Look how grown up she looks in just one year.  She is totally devoted to her brother, and last year declined to participate in the Lion King show at Disney because her brother couldn't go with her.  Jimmy had taken his wheelchair out, and didn't have time to go get it.

But there is a happy ending.  This past trip, Krissy got to participate in the show, and then took her brother for the final parade march at the end of the kids' participation.

I'm so impressed with her.  She's sweet, kind, loving, happy and well adjusted.  She has fun with her friends and yet is so devoted to her family.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her. Happy birthday Krissy, and  I love you.