Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 3 - EPCOT

Our second and final day at EPCOT for this trip was to begin with a Fast Pass for Soarin'.  Rod and I decided to sleep in a little, and met the kids at Akershus in Norway for a breakfast with the princesses.  This is truly a good breakfast, served mostly family style.  Bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and a breakfast potato dish are served at the table.  On the buffet there is fresh fruit, sliced meats, cheeses, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, and chocolate croissants.  Our server advised us to try the "brown" cheese.  We did, and it was delicious - yes it was a brown goat cheese.  We had a photo take with Belle, and were visited at the table by Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Ariel.

The kids waited in a very long line to meet Santa and Mrs. Clause, while Rod and I shopped.  The kids met with some of the other characters, and in the afternoon returned to do Test Track.  I had wanted to visit some of the other lands in EPCOT and see some of the shows and storytellers, but the park was so packed that I had trouble navigating the crowds. I had heard that there was a Koi Pond in Japan - never found it.  In frustration, I gave up and returned to the front of the park to watch a Christmas concert by a gospel group.  It was very enjoyable, and it seemed to me that the "kind, and happy people" had gathered here. Maybe they were also avoiding the pushy crowds in World Showcase. We went to the aquarium and saw Turtle Talk with Crush (I love that cool dude).  I bid farewell to EPCOT, my favorite park.

We had a late dinner at Kona, where they have the best steaks.  It is one of our favorite restaurants, and we eat here every visit.  We had planned a cruise to view Wishes, the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom.  Our boat was to leave at 8:30 to view Wishes at 9:00.  But Disney decided to keep the Magic Kingdom open later, so instead we left at 9:00 to view Wishes at 10:00.  If you are a Disney visitor and have never done a cruise, I heartily encourage you to try one.  Although they are a relaxing way to see the fireworks without crowds, they are also very informative.  Our captain took us on a tour of the lake, and showed us a secret island where Disney had originally planned an "animal kingdom".  He showed us the location of Disney's first water park, now defunct.
And we got to see the Electric Boat Parade.  The only downside of this cruise was the weather.  We FROZE!!!  It was so cold and windy.  Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are provided with the cost of the cruise, but we could certainly have used some hot cocoa.

My notes on today - the crowds were unbelievable to say that we had chosen a week that was supposedly  "less crowded". There was more pushing, fewer kind words, and the day was certainly more stressful for me.  One good thing is that there is now a Starbucks in EPCOT, and it was like an oasis in the dessert.

Next - Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

Our first day at Magic Kingdom began with breakfast at Chef Mickey's, a great place to eat.  It's hard to get reservations for this venue, but Mary managed to get a reservation for all 8 of us.  You are visited here by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, and Pluto, while dining at a buffet that has just about everything you could want to eat for breakfast.

We left there and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, where we headed up Main Street for a photo in front of the castle.  After the photo op, we headed toward Phiharmagic and I noticed that the Fairy Godmother was behind the castle for a meet and greet.  She is one of my fairy tale heroines, and I have a shirt that says that I am a "fairy grandmother".  So, of course I had to stop and meet her and have a photo taken.  We continued making our way through the Kingdom doing our thing, and Rod and I had lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  We eat here every trip, but prefer lunch to dinner.  Near the end of our meal, a little guy at the table next to ours became ill and his lunch came back up.  The staff did everything to make the family more comfortable and were very apologetic to those nearby, but unfortunately did nothing to clean it up.  We asked for our check and left abruptly because the smell was very unpleasant.  (another bad experience).

We met the kids at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and they all rode while I people watched.  We moved onto the new Fantasyland, where I did some shopping.  We all did Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid.  Here I had to transfer to a wheelchair from my scooter, but it was very enjoyable.  But unfortunately, the tires on the wheelchair were flat and it didn't move very well.  Had I not put my feet down, the cast members would have dumped me right out of the chair.  Poor Krissy was in tears, convinced that they were going to hurt me.  It took a few minutes to calm her down, but soon we were on our way to meet Gaston, from The Beauty and the Beast.
 Gaston was an absolute hoot, and was so in character!  He bragged about his muscles, told Mary how excellent he was at expectorating, took our autograph books because "girls shouldn't read, and asked to see Jimmy's muscles.  Jimmy's were real - not stuffed like Gaston's, and Gaston commented on that.  He seemed to get a kick from how short I was, and had to rest his elbow on my head while having our photo taken.
During the course of the day, we saw a medieval show at the sword in the stone.  They had all kinds of big guys try to remove the sword, but none were successful.  Bubby was declared the "Hero of Fantasyland" when he was able to lift the sword out.

The kids did Enchanted Tales with Belle, where Jimmy was chosen to play a Knight.  When they returned, we proceeded to our Be Our Guest reservation.  This is another venue where it is almost possible to get a reservation.  Mary checked every day, two or three times, and was able to score a reservation for all 8 of us.  The decor inside the Beast's castle is absolutely stunning.  We were seated in the West Wing., the rose was there under glass, and the photo of the prince changed each time the thunder clapped.  It was dark.  I wasn't impressed with the food, however.  I ordered the mussels for my appetizer, and felt like I was munching on cloves of garlic.  I ate two of them and didn't eat any more.  I ordered Chicken Breast Provencal as my entree, it was pan-seared and simmered in a blend of heirloom tomatoes, olives, white wine and fresh herbs. After I scraped off the top, the chicken was delicious.  It was served with fingerling potatoes.  For dessert, I chose the sugar-free lemon-strawberry cream puff which was filled with lemon custard.  I have to tell you that Disney makes the best sugar-free desserts.  Our server was amazing, and Rod left him quite a hefty tip.  He tracked us down while we were waiting for a photo with the Beast and questioned Rod as to whether or not the amount of the tip was a mistake.  When Rod assured him that it was not, the wonderful gentleman had tears in his eyes, thanked us profusely, and wished us a Merry Christmas.

Since the Christmas party that evening had already started, we were escorted out of the park, and Rod and I returned to our room.  My notes for today - Magic Kingdom is probably my least favorite park.  There are more screaming, crying kids and frustrated parents dragging their kids around by their arms in this park than you see in any other park.  Today's dining was disappointing at best.  The cast members were friendly, helpful, and cheerful.  I would rate today 97 out of 100.

Tomorrow - Epcot and a cruise.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Back From Vacation

First, I want to wish my oldest daughter, Mary a very Happy Birthday.

We returned from vacation last night.  It was certainly a trip of mixed feelings.  We arrived in Orlando without any issues, and proceeded to our resort.  We had requested a handicapped accessible room at Port Orleans - Riverside so that we would have a roll-in shower.  The only handicapped accessible rooms they had were in the Royal Section.  So we paid extra money to have a room in that section.  The decor of the room was beautiful, but unfortunately there was a tub/shower combination.  Not what we asked for.  I don't like to make waves, so I said nothing.  It was wonderful that the beds were lower since I have very short legs, but I could certainly have done without the mile-high toilet.

We proceeded to EPCOT, got a snack, and did some rides.  Rod and the kids did Test Track, and I shopped.  They did Soarin' and I people-watched.  And then we all did Living with the Land.  It is one of my favorite rides at WDW. I love music, and we went to see the Voices of Liberty at the American Adventure pavilion. The Voices of Liberty is an a capella group that sings under the accoustic dome. From there we went to see the American Adventure show, which takes you through America's history.  Later, Rod and I had dinner at the Biergarten restaurant.  The food was delectable, and the entertainment was very pleasant and put me in the Christmas spirit.  We sat with two older ladies who are from Florida, but retired there from Jersey.  They have been friends since grade school, and were fascinating dinner companions. They told some great stories. Rod was amazed at the amount of beer they were putting away. After thanking each other for an enjoyable dinner and wishing each other a Merry Christmas, we parted ways. We went to get in line for the Candlelight Processional, and were seated in the handicapped section.  
Dennis Haysbert was an amazing narrator as he told the Christmas story in his deep, booming voice.  The choirs and orchestra are just magnificent, and leave me teary eyed each time.  However, I couldn't take my eyes of the lady who signed the program.  She was probable the most animated signer I have ever seen.  Her hands moved so gracefully, and her facial expressions added so much to her interpretation.

The night was getting chilly, and we had been up since 3:00 am, so Rod and I bid EPCOT farewell and returned to our room for a good night's sleep. Today's summary - most of the people we encountered this day were surprisingly friendly, polite, and in great moods.  We found very few "Scrooges", and considered this to be a positive day.   Tomorrow - Magic Kingdom.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Great Time for a Vacation!

Wow, have you seen the 10 day weather forecast for my area?  Rain, sleet, and significant snow accumulation, with frigid temperatures.  We leave for our Disney vacation in less than a week, and it's supposed to be in the 70's while we are there.  So, we will leave Pittsburgh in 12 degree weather, and arrive in Orlando where it should be balmy and warm.  What a great time for a vacation!!

My Etsy shop will be closed during that time, but will reopen on the 19th for shipping on the 20th.  Any order shipped by the 22nd should arrive in time for Christmas.  If you need some last minute gifts or stocking stuffers, click on the Etsy button and it will take you directly to my site.

See you after vacation.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Single Digits!!!

I am so excited that we are in Single Digits - which means we have less than 10 days until our trip to Walt Disney World.  We were there at Christmas time before, but we got a tremendous amount of rain along with cold temperatures.  Needless to say, we didn't see as much as we wanted to see.  This trip should be especially magical.  The decorations on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom are beautiful, and you can't help but join in the Christmas spirit.  Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is held on select nights.  It features a Christmas Parade complete with Santa, special Celebrate the Season fireworks, snow on Main Street, and complimentary cookies and cocoa.  Our last visit at Christmas time was so cold that Rod and I didn't stay for the party although we had purchased our tickets.  This time I will be better prepared with warmer clothing.
I made this sweatshirt just for this trip.

EPCOT celebrates the Holidays around the World, with special storytellers, entertainment, and merchandise in each of the countries.  And the icing on the cake is the Candlelight Processional, a special telling of the Christmas story featuring choirs, an orchestra, and celebrity narrators.  We have tickets to see Dennis Haysbert, the Allstate guy, with the wonderful, deep voice.  Rod and I are dining at the Biergarten restaurant, where the Oompah Band and the Alpenhorn players provide entertainment during your meal.  (You know I can't resist the German music.)

Hollywood Studios is home to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the most amazing Christmas light display that I've ever seen.  We will see Fantasmic, a 25 minute show of fireworks, dancing waters, and images projected onto water spouts.  We love it, and it shows at 6:30 on our day, which will give us plenty of time to tour the Dancing Lights before the park closes.

Animal Kingdom has a large tree with tribal masks, animals, reed baskets and wooden stars.  It is my favorite tree, and during our last visit, I did buy some baskets.  This trip I'm in the market for some of the animal masks.  They also have a wonderful parade, which we enjoyed the last trip.

And some of the resorts have special-made gingerbread attractions.  The Grand Floridian has a gingerbread house made of gingerbread, and you can purchase gingerbread there.  (I love me some gingerbread!)  The Contemporary has a huge gingerbread tree, and the Beach Club has a carousel made of gingerbread.  I know that I'm leaving some out, but my mind is just reeling from thinking of all the gingerbread.

I have printed the special envelopes that I make for our Mousekeeping tips,  I have printed our touring cards, which have all our confirmation numbers on them.  I have started my packing list, and each day I get more excited.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December, Already?

Can you believe that November is gone, and December is here?  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was safe and happy.  For dinner we had all the usual items: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans with bacon, baked corn casserole, applesauce, and a relish tray.  Pam decided to try a pumpkin cheesecake pie recipe that she had seen online, and it was delicious.  Saturday was a great day - just Rod and I, and we spend the entire day watching the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family.  After eating turkey all day Friday, we were a little "turkey'd out", and Rod decided he was cooking dinner Saturday.  He had bought two T-Bone steaks on Saturday morning, and grilled them with baked potatoes.  We heated up the corn casserole that was left, and dinner was complete.  Sunday morning, I slept in and when I finally got up, Rod had put away all the Thanksgiving decorations.  We decided that we would use the last of the dark meat from the turkey to make "caps".

Rod's mom grew up in a coal mining town with people of all ethnicities, and many of the foods Rod grew up eating were from his mom's childhood.  Cappelletti are one of those foods.  They are little pillows of dough similar to ravioli.  The dough is a basic noodle dough of flour, eggs, and water.  The filling is ground cooked turkey, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic, and a little oil.  The dough is rolled out into a thin layer and cut into squares.  We like little squares to make little, bite sized caps.  You place some filling into the center of the dough square, fold it into a triangle shape and seal it well.  Then you bring the two side corners to the back and seal them to form a "little hat", which is what cappelletti means.  We like them in chicken broth, but you can also put them into a marinara sauce.  This is a food that we just keep warm in the slow cooker and eat all day.

After the caps were made, we set up the platform for the tree, and Rod got the tree out of the attic.  The tree is up, but not decorated.  He then went outside to put up the Christmas lights. When he came back in, we adjourned to the living room where we again watched ABC Family.  They had started their Countdown to Christmas, and we watched some of our favorite movies.  It was a wonderful weekend, but unfortunately this is Monday and Rod had to return to work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do You Remember This??

I'm not sure exactly what the problem was, but it certainly didn't look like Belle. Maybe it was that I had tried to use paper stabilizer. One person even asked if it was Belle wearing some of Snow White's clothes.  I've been working on a sweatshirt for our Disney trip. This design frustrated me so much that I put the sweatshirt away and finished my Christmas orders. I've been thinking about this so much.  I knew that I needed to tear it out.  It's not an easy job.  I even tore two holes where the eyes were.  I wasn't sure what to do.  There were too many hours in this sweatshirt already to just quit.  After many hours of thinking (I'm sure at some points, there was smoke coming out of my ears), I decided to try something I'd never done before.  So this morning, I put my stabilizer into the hoop and then pinned the sweatshirt over it.  Then, to cover the threads that I couldn't remove, I put another layer of stabilizer on top of where Belle had been.  I made sure that I picked a design that was bigger than Belle was.  And I began to stitch.
It was a huge design, 125 minutes to stitch it out.  But here is the result.  A beautiful Cinderella!  My color chart called for "silver gray" for the flowers, I wish I had chosen a different color.  But I love her.

What did I learn from this incident?  First, I learned that paper stabilizer and sweatshirt material don't mix.  Second, I learned that being Scotch isn't always a good thing - sometimes you just need to pay extra for the good stuff and save the paper stabilizer for tracing patterns.  And Third, I learned that slow and steady wins the race.  I thought and thought before I proceeded, and that was a good thing.

Jake and I watch Monsters U this morning, so now he wants me to sew Mike and Sully onto my sweatshirt.  I have those designs, so this afternoon Mike and Sully it is!  And I think they are smaller designs.  Hope So!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Counting Down

We are most definitely counting down.  We have less than 25 days until our Disney trip.  Some people say, "You're going AGAIN?"  And we answer, "Oh Yea!"  I am so very excited about this trip.  We have all pitched in to make it the best ever.  We love the fireworks cruises, and since we couldn't decide which to do, we have two.  One is for the Illuminations fireworks at EPCOT, and has a special tag for Christmas which ends with the song, Let There Be Peace on Earth.  And we have also booked a cruise to view the Wishes fireworks from the Magic Kingdom.  And then there's a special surprise for the kids at Animal Kingdom (Which I can't discuss, but will post photos of when we return.)

In the past, we have been given what Disney called the "Key to the World" card.  It was a card similar to a credit card which was not only your room key, but also your admission ticket to the parks and you could use it to charge tips, food, and purchases to your room and pay it all off at one time.
 Disney is in the process of changing over to "Magic Bands".  They will be used for all the things that the Key to the World card was, but also keeps track of your Fast Passes to rides.  The are water proof which is good if you like the water rides, which we don't.  This picture shows the ones that Rod and I personalized.  We were able to choose our colors, and our names are inside the bands.

With the Key to the World being discontinued there was no need for the neck wallets that we normally use.  But you know that we ladies need to have some sort of bag to keep our "stuff" in.  I have made wristlets for all of us for daily use, but decided to make special Disney ones for our trip.  They will be so handy.  The hook is on the wristlet so that the girls can clip it to the belt loops on their pants.  But still for meals, they can hook on the strap and loop it over their wrists for security.  I don't wear pants with belt loops, but the strap is just perfect to hang over the tiller of my scooter.

Since Princess and the Frog is my favorite Disney movie, I chose the Tiana fabric for mine.  Krissy is a Tinkerbell fan, so she gets the Tinkerbell fabric, and the lining of hers is fabric that has a few lines from Peter Pan.  Mary loves the pink Mickey fabric, so it's hers.  Pam chose the blue Mickey fabric, and Pat wanted the red Minnie fabric.  I ordered special key chains to use as zipper pulls on November 6, but they haven't shipped yet.  I will call the company this morning, and tell them to cancel my order if they aren't shipping it by tomorrow.

So the countdown continues, and our excitement continues to build.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Can you believe all the "powers that be" in the retail industry that have decided that it was a good idea to open on Thanksgiving.  To them I say, "Shame on You"!!!  What made you think that this was a good thing?  How do you expect employees to be loyal when you choose to take them from their families on a day that was set aside to give thanks?  Will you be working in the store during those hours, or will you be at home stuffing your faces, watching football, and laughing about all the "schmucks" you have the ability to remove from their families on a holiday???

Wikipedia defines Thanksgiving as "a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.[1] As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year."

When did Thanksgiving cease to be a federal and public holiday?  Who made this decision?  I, for one, will not be shopping on that day.  I, for one, will not shop in those stores at all over the Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday will just have to go on without this shopper.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You!

Thank you to all those veterans who serve or have served our country so bravely to protect our freedoms. I think some times you are under-appreciated, but today we salute you.

We had a wonderful weekend.  As planned, we visited the Weichnachsmarkt in Historic Harmony.  It was soooo cold, and the gusty wind didn't help any.  The artisan and food booths were set up in a gravel parking lot - large gravel.  My little blue scooter doesn't like gravel, but large gravel is really a problem.  I made it as far as the music tent, which was my favorite place to be.  There was a gentleman there who was playing a keyboard and singing German songs.  When he asked for requests, I asked him for Die Lorelei, a German song about a sailor and sirens.  It was always one of my favorites.  We stayed to watch the dancers, and I would love to have stayed for the Oompah Band, but I was frozen (as you can see from the photo).  I had dressed in layers - a long sleeved turtleneck, a flannel shirt and then my hoodie.  Rod sneaked off to the vine tasting tent while I listened to the music, and bought a bottles of red, white, and catawba pink wine from Volant Mill Winery.  I had tasted their red before and loved it.  We opened the catawba last night for dinner, and it was just as good.  We left the festival, and drove to Kraynak's with the intention of seeing their Santaland.  It was packed, and as we entered the parking lot (where there were no parking places) a large van stopped ahead of us and discharged a group of nursing home patients.  We decided we didn't want to see the Santaland badly enough to fight the large crowd, and started back home by another route.  We stopped and had dinner at Eat n Park, which seemed proper since Rod was working at an Eat n Park when we got married.  And then, after dinner we drove home.  The day wasn't anything earth moving, but I couldn't stop smiling.  I love riding in the car with Rod - some of our best dreams have been discussed in the car.  We laugh, we listen to our favorite music, and on Saturday we reminisced about the various trips on the highways we were on.  For me, it was a wonderful day.

I have some orders to finish up, and then it's onto more embroidery designs on my sweatshirt.  I have so much to do before our December Disney trip, and it's rapidly approaching.  I have only one more Christmas gift to buy, and my shopping is all done.   Have a good week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Funny Friday

I guess that this should be categorized as irony rather then funny. My father never really accepted that I had become a responsible adult, and he had a tendency to make me feel like I was sort of stupid.  Every time we borrowed a video from him and my mom, he made sure that he told me NOT to erase what was on it.  Every single time!!  And we were always careful.  My parents were really good friends with some Amish families, so when Daddy found out that we had recorded Witness with Harrison Ford, he asked to borrow the tape.  And I didn't say, "Be careful not to erase it".  I guess that was my mistake.  I was always sure to label all the videos we wanted to save, but never removed the tab on the cassette.   When he asked if we could all watch the movie together before I took it home, I didn't see any problem with it.  You can imagine my dismay when the "movie" started and it wasn't Witness at all.  Seems that my mom and dad had taped "Lawrence Welk" over our movie.  I over-dramatized a little when I acted indignant that although he always made sure that he told us not to tape over one of his tapes, he had, in fact taped over one of ours.  I'm sure he was a little embarrassed to admit that he had done that, but he never again told us to be careful with his videos.  We laughed about the look on his face most of the way home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30 Days of Thankful

November is upon us, and during this month, some of my family and friends like to celebrate 30 days of being thankful.  I am thankful for so much every day of my life; but during this month, I like to concentrate on one specific blessing each day.  It becomes a special month of meditation, gratitude, and soul searching for me, while the rest of the world is crazy preparing for Christmas and leaving Thanksgiving to fall by the wayside. 

In the past, I kept a "Gratitude Journal". It helped me to come through a rough time in my life.  I was unhappy, discontented, and very depressed.  The Gratitude Journal forced me to dwell on the good things in my life, to be thankful for what I had in life, rather than what I didn't have.  As I look around me, I realize that I have been so blessed with a wonderful husband, kind and loving children, sons-in-law who provide well for my daughters and grandchildren, and sweet, loving grandchildren  I was fortunate to have parents and in-laws who lived their wedding vows of "til death do us part", and taught Rod and I to do the same.  I no longer write down my "gratitudes", but each morning when I awake, I first thank God for another day, and then concentrate on the good things I have in my life.  It's my own form of meditation.  During these 30 days, I also try to give back some of the goodness that God has given me.  

And so, as you prepare for the busy holiday season which is approaching, consider observing 30  Days of Thankful.  Give thanks each morning, and perhaps during the month, donate to a local charity, food bank,  Toys for Tots, or send a card or small gift to a person serving our country in the Armed Forces.  It will leave you with a happy heart.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mug Rugs

Nearly everywhere I look I see "mug rugs".  And I wondered what they were.  According to wikipedia, a mug rug is:   "A coaster, drink coaster, beverage coaster, or beermat, is an article used to rest beverages upon. The main purpose is to protect the surface of a table or any other surface where the user might place their beverage.

I've always had "coasters"  to protect my furniture, and I wondered if a mug rug is the same thing.  The wikipedia definition leads me to believe that yes, they are.  I researched a little more, and found this site. I think that they would make a great gift, stocking stuffer, or a "just because" gift.  From what I've seen, you can make a mug rug for whatever theme you desire.  I've found some with a cup of tea or coffee on them, some with elephants, some in a Christmas theme, some with other holidays.  I guess you can make them any size that you like.  

If you want to see some wonderful mug rugs, just "google" mug rugs and click on images.  You will be amazed at what you find.   The one above caught my eye.
And look at this one.  Wouldn't it be great for Valentine's Day?

I know I don't have time to make any for Christmas; but after the first of the year, I may have to give making some mug rugs a try.  I have a die cutter that I rarely use, and think that some of the applique shapes would make great mug rugs.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Anniversary Is Rapidly Approaching

Two weeks ago, we celebrated my birthday.  Yesterday, we celebrated Rod's birthday.  Now in just 12 days, we celebrate our anniversary.  Is it any wonder that 13 is our lucky number?  It will be our 39th.  We wanted to do something special.  Since we both sleep better in our own bed and we have a trip to Disney coming up in December, we decided to make it a one-day trip.  But where to go???  We wanted somewhere close to home.  And after talking, we wanted something we hadn't done before.  

I was a German major in college, and love most everything German (Hitler and the Nazis excepted).  I love the food, the crafts, and I have a pretty large nutcracker collection.  So when we learned about the German Christmas Market at Historic Harmony will be taking place on our anniversary, we decided that was the destination we were looking for!  According to their website, 

       "More than 40 artisans and specialty vendors provide the market part of WeihnachtsMarkt. Museum quilters and weavers demonstrate their work. There are model railroad displays in the museum’s Wagner House annex.This year’s entertainment includes Alpen Schuhplattlers (pictured above), Augsburg Band, Burke’s Bavarian Brass, Pittsburgh Swiss Singers and the Acme Tunes hammered dulcimer ensemble.  German foods and refreshments include soup, bratwurst and sauerbraten sandwiches, German potato salad, baked goods and mulled cider. A winery offers tastings and salesAt nightfall Saturday, visitors join in caroling at the lighting of a live Christmas tree."  

So, now I'm really looking forward to this "trip", since Historic Harmony is less than 1/2 hour away.     

Friday, October 25, 2013

Funny Friday

Frozen Turkey
A short time after Rod and I were married, a local supermarket offered a great deal on frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving.  His sister, Kathy, and I headed to the store to pick up our Thanksgiving bird.  I had wanted a large one, so I asked the butcher if they had any over 20 pounds.  He returned with a 23 pound bird, and handed it over the counter to me.

It really should have come with a caution sign!  The next thing I knew, that bird was shooting out of my hands and skating across the floor.  I ran after it. (I could still run then)  I picked it up and started back to my shopping cart.  Like a bar of wet soap, it popped out of my hands again and slid across the floor.  Three more times I tried to pick it up, twice more it skidded across the floor.  Finally I got hold of that bird and, while cradling it in my arms like a sleeping baby, I approached the meat counter.  The people standing at the counter were looking somewhat horrified.  They weren't sure if it was appropriate or not  to laugh .  As I looked at the butcher, I calmly said, "Could I have a different one, please?  I don't think this one's dead yet."  At that point, everyone broke into laughter - with me, not at me.  And to this day, I won't touch a frozen turkey.

Have a funny weekend, and never be afraid to laugh at yourself!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Lesson In Frustration

That's the kind of week I've had - and it's only Wednesday!  I started working on some new plush key chains, using patterns that I designed myself.  I had them on the kitchen table, and Pat accidentally knocked over a cup of coffee.  The patterns were soaked, but with her quick action, Pat was able to save them and they dried overnight.  Memo to self - always make a second copy of new designs.   Over the weekend, I made four of them and put them on some black hooks that I had.  I hated the way they looked.  The hooks were way to big and dark, so I had to order some new ones.  Not expensive, but shipping from China so that project was put on hold.

Then I decided to finish some pot pinchers I had started.  These mixed nuts pinchers turned out great. I started the rest, but soon discovered that I had been sent extra wide bias quilt binding instead of double fold bias binding.  It's been a while and so I doubt that I can return it.  I figured I'd try to use it, but the difference in the width makes the pot pinchers too small for the average hand.  I ordered the correct binding, and now that project is also on hold.

I did manage to get some scarves finished, and still have more to go, so that's the project that I'm working on currently. Krissy wore one of the leopard print scarves to her chorus concert.  She looks more like her mom every day.

And as if I haven't had enough frustration for one day, I decided to start tearing out the stitching on the Belle embroidery design I did two weeks ago.  This was so horrible.  I hated it, and didn't want it on my sweatshirt.  So as badly as I didn't want to rip out another design, I'm doing it.  I'll pick another design and start again.  It's for sure that I'm not redoing this one.

But hey, at least the rest of the week has to be better - right?

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Do I Love Thee??

I really have an amazing husband.  In less than a month, we will celebrate our 39th anniversary.  It's been an amazing trip, and although some years were really tough, I'm not sure I would have changed any of it because it made me who I am.

Today is my birthday.  I won't tell you how old I am, but I recently attended my 45th high school reunion!  Rod has been asking me what I wanted for my birthday, and I could not think of anything.  I had been looking at  dreaming of a Koala Cabinets for sewing, but at nearly $1,000 they are waaayyy out of my price range.  It's truly beautiful and a quilter's dream, but not in my budget.  I have been sewing in the living room, because it's so convenient when I have Jake.  He is just fascinated with all the mess treasures in the sewing room, and, in the living room I can keep an eye on him and he can watch his favorite TV shows.  I had been using a folding table with a plastic top.  I loved that table because it was so light, but the legs buckled under the weight of the sewing machine while the table was being slid into the corner of the living room.  My wonderful husband caught the sewing machine and left the table fall.  Then he brought me up a wooden table that he had made from banquet table legs and a wooden top.  It was a little high, but worked pretty well until it also weakened from the weight being moved from one place to another.

Saturday, I didn't see Rod much until time to get ready for Izzy's birthday party.  Yesterday, after he had made two trips to Trader Horn and been out of sight for a while, he presented me with this wonderful table on casters.  It's not a Koala Cabinet, to be sure.  But it's the perfect height for me, it moves easily, and most importantly it was made with love.  You can see there are some narrow shelves under the top, and (if  I can locate them) I think I have some narrow thread holders that will fit there.  He will eventually stain and varnich it, but right now I just need to use it. It's one of the most thoughtful, wonderful gifts that I've ever received.  And that's just one of the reasons that I love him.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Feels So Good to Finish a Project; But They Don't Always Look Great

It is a great feeling to finish project that I started years ago.  This is the batik quilt that I started as a BOM in the nineties (I can't remember what year).  From the time I started putting the blocks together, Mary insisted she wanted this quilt.  I'm not a big fan of batiks, so I agreed.  Last month I finally finished the top, and started looking for someone to quilt it.  Believe it or not, I found a person on eBay whose prices were really reasonable.  Her eBay seller name is jeano 1961.  Mary chose an all-over daisy design and I left color up to Lori, the quilter.  The quilt arrived here on Saturday, and I can't tell you how beautiful it is.  Her work is top notch, and she will definitely be getting more business from me.  I had the binding ready to go, so I put it on while Mary was at a wedding on Saturday.  Pappy and I were keeping Bubby, and so when Mary got here to pick him up, the quilt was ready for her to take home.  She was so pleased and it went directly onto her bed.

But not all projects turn out great.  I decided to take a hooded sweatshirt and embroider Disney designs onto it for our December trip.  I unstitched the pockets so that they would be easier to embroider.  I unsewed the arm seams to that I could do a better job.  It was a noble undertaking.  It was a great idea.  NOT!!!  Goofy turned out great.  He's on one pocket.

The Genie turned out great - he's on the other pocket. 
I was so pleased, so decided to try putting Mufasa and Simba on one of the sleeves.  It's a very complicated design - takes 60 minutes to stitch.  Didn't understand why orange and tangerine were listed as colors on the chart, but OK,  I'd give it a try.
Now, do I need to take the time and try to rip out all this stitching???  Embroidery threads are a B*&^h to tear out.  I think I'll leave it alone and hope that if I roll up my sleeve it won't show.  I think I just wasted an entire morning, and ruined my sweatshirt.  Hope the afternoon goes better!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mmmm Good

Just finished my morning protein shake.  8 oz. 1% milk, 1 container Dannon Lite Strawberry Banana Yogurt, and 1 scoop of strawberry protein powder.  It was wonderful.

Disappointed, But Determined

Well, another disappointing weigh-in.  It was another weight gain.  Not a lot, but still a gain.  Two bumpy weeks in a row, but I am more determined.  When I plugged my numbers into my weight tracker, the message said to review my tracker and see what changes I had made.  And that's exactly what I did!  Here's what I found.  The first few weeks when I had a significant loss, I had made a protein shake for breakfast.  It was quick and I didn't feel hungry before lunchtime.  For some reason, I have been eating cereal these last two weeks.  I noticed a rise in my mid morning blood sugar readings, and perhaps that cereal also contributed to my weight gain.  For lunch, I had been eating tomatoes with sandwiches or soup.  Our tomato season has ended, and store bought tomatoes just don't taste like our home-grown.  I had been eating one slice of thick sliced bologna on my sandwich.  Perhaps, this next week I will try thick sliced turkey with mustard and pickles, and drink a tomato juice (Mmm).  There were no significant changes in dinner, but I had changed my evening snacks.  Also, I found that I had not been eating my yogurt.  That will change!  This morning, I am making a protein shake, but I don't have any fresh strawberries.  I have strawberry protein powder which I haven't tried yet, so I'm going to add a container of strawberry yogurt to my milk and use the strawberry powder.  And, I will start pushing the water.  Go, Me!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wonderful Weekend

This past weekend was full of fun, friends, and food.  My 45th class reunion was scheduled for this weekend.  I wasn't attending the formal reunion, but did go to the informal get together on Friday evening.  It was held at the 1810 Tavern, a place I didn't know existed.  It was on the second floor and the steps were seriously steep, so I chose to sit on the outside patio.  The evening was warm with a slight breeze.  There were lights strung around the patio, and an small oil lamp on each table.  Since we were meeting one of my best friends from high school, we chose a table for 4 and ordered dinner.  We chose one of the night's specials - a skirt steak with roasted asparagus.  We thought we were getting butternut squash risotto, but what was on our plate resembled corn bread.  It was delicious and topped with a horseradish sauce.  It was delicious, and we will probably eat here again.  For dessert Rod chose the pumpkin cheesecake and I selected the apple strudel (can't resist German food).  My friend Nancy and her husband Bob joined us and we spend much of the evening together.  There was very little reminiscing - it was mostly catching up.  It was only the second time we had seen each other in 45 years, but at the end of the evening it was almost like we had never been separated.  Some other friends from high school also joined us for a few minutes of catching up.  It was so great to see them after so many years.

Saturday morning, we had Jake and Izzy since Kristin and George both had to work.  Pappy cooked everyone "dippy" eggs and bacon for breakfast.  Then we went outside to enjoy the beautiful day, and Rod and I sat and laughed at the kids playing their special games.  He grilled hot dogs for lunch, and the kids presented me with some buttercups they found in the yard.  Izzy's had nice long stems, while Jake's had no stems at all.  It was a wonderful morning.

Saturday night we attended the Beaver County Invitational Band Festival.  It was held at Geneva College, here in Beaver Falls. Rod and I used the handicapped entrance, where there were special spaces for wheelchairs and scooters with seating alongside for the companion.  I had an excellent spot on the 50 yard line.  Bands from all over Beaver County, and the band from Geneva College performed.  It was a wonderful, musical evening for a $5.00 ticket.  A portion of the ticket sales, as well as part of the food sales went to benefit the bands.  We had a bowl of haluski (cabbage and noodles) that was great, and cost only $3.00.  Granddaughter Kristina participated with the Riverside High School Marching Band, although she's only in 7th grade.  It was sad to see that so many of our local bands are incorporating grades 7-12 into their high school bands because of low membership.  What has happened to the music education in our area that so few students choose to participate in band?  Is is more interest in video games, is it that it is so difficult for working parents to provide transportation to evening and after school practices, or is it just a lack of interest?  Whatever the reason, it is just sad to see a band with only 23 members.

Sunday, we invited Mary and her family for dinner.  With Mary's working, Krissy's band and Bubby's therapy, we don't see very much of them and we had a wonderful evening.  Rod and I decided to do a boneless pork loin roast on the rotisserie and we basted it with Pam's homemade pear butter.  It created a nice, sweet crust while the meat inside was moist and full of flavor.  The side dishes were quick and easy, green beans with bacon, baked beans, and cheese topped pierogis.  We discussed our sad, sloppy Steelers and watched the highlights from some other games.  After they left, Rod and I ended our evening by watching Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan (I love me some Pierce Brosnan).

All in all, it was a great weekend with beautiful weather, family, good food and old friends.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Could Last Week's Weigh-In Have Been a Fluke?

Today was weigh in day.  I was very apprehensive because last week showed such a large loss.  Could it have been a fluke?? I stuck to the program just the way I have been, but when I stepped on the scale and looked down, it showed that I had gained 2.8 pounds from last week.  I was so disappointed, could last week have been a fluke??  I don't really know.  But time marches on, and so do I.  I'm not giving up.  I'm determined that this excess weight will go away!

Last night we made Weight Watchers Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli.  It was delicious, and the rest of the family must have thought so too, since Rod had 3 helpings!  One serving, however was 7 points, and I had a hard time finishing my serving.  Right now those points aren't a big deal, but as I lose weight I will lose points and then it could be a problem.  But in my Scarlet O'Hara mode, I won't think about that today.

Yesterday was a "cutting" day.  I cut 28 scarves.  Today is a "sewing day".  Off to sew! Have a great day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Best Friends Reunited

We have two cats - Mr. Andre and Mr. Willie (he only has one eye, and got his name from One Eyed Willie in Goonies)  They are the best of friends.  Two weeks ago, Mr. Willie developed a bad ear infection and couldn't walk (he has a muffed ear).  So Dr. Kristin took him to work and treated him.  But afterwards, he stayed at Pat and Pam's house since they were administering his medications.  Yesterday, Dr. Kristin operated on the muffed ear to try and open it so that it could be cleaned easier.  And although she wasn't pleased with the results, it looks a lot better.  Mr. Andre has missed his buddy so badly. The first week, he just walked around the house looking for Mr. Willie and crying.  He just moped around, and rarely left the back porch.

Today, Mr. Willie returned home, and Mr. Andre was so happy to see him that he gave him kisses.  It's good to see best friends reunited!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Items Added

New Items have been added to my etsy store.  Click the button on the sideboard for a quick trip.

Last night for dinner, I made a turkey meatloaf and a skinny scalloped potato gratin, both recipes were from SkinnyTaste.  This is one of the sites that I have bookmarked and visit every day.  Her recipes are all Weight Watchers friendly, and she has even calculated the points for you.  I haven't made anything from her site that I haven't liked.  My family doesn't care for marjoram, so I substituted Mrs.Dash original for the marjoram in the meatloaf recipe. I don't care for nutmeg, so I just eliminated it from the potatoes recipe.  Since the recipes had different baking temperatures, I started the potatoes at 425 degrees.  Then about 25 minutes later, I put the meatloaf in at 375 degrees.  Both items were done at the same time, and the family all gave the meal a "thumbs up".  Today, I have chicken in the crockpot with some taco seasoning and chicken broth for some shredded chicken soft tacos for dinner tonight.  We got some beautiful, large, sweet onions at Costco last weekend.  They're calling for rain this weekend, so I foresee  a pot of french onion soup in my future.  I make mine with chicken broth rather than with beef broth, and prefer it this way.

Back to the sewing machine.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weigh In Day

Today is my weigh in day - the day I get weighed and track my weight on the WW app.  I was very apprehensive about stepping on that scale this morning.  I did so well with my weight loss last week, and was afraid that this week's loss would disappoint.  I followed my Points Plus tracking very seriously, tried new recipes, and enjoyed my new way of eating.  But it wasn't just the eating.  I forced myself to move more -not too difficult for most people, but for me it was major.  And was it worth it???  Oh, Yea!!!

That makes a total of 12.5 pounds since I started Weight Watchers.  I realize that losing this many pounds in a week is not usual, and am not expecting this type of loss each week.  But for now, I'll rejoice in it and use it for incentive.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

End of Week Update

It doesn't seem like I accomplished much this week.  I was so excited about my weight loss last week, so  I searched for more Weight Watchers recipes to try.  My family is being very supportive, and Rod is even eating pretty much what I do. Since fall is in the air here in Pennsylvania, I'm planning on roasting a turkey breast this weekend, and I have a craving for pumpkin pie.  But pumpkin pie is 11 points - and that's a lot.  I found a Weight Watchers recipe that uses phyllo dough instead of pie crust, and it's only 4 points. So I will be having pumpkin pie this weekend.  I offered to make Rod one with pie crust, and he kindly said no.  He will eat the WW pie.  Then to use some of the apples we got from CSA and a few pears from Pam and Pat's tree, I found a recipe for fruit turnovers (also WW) and it also uses phyllo.  So two WW friendly desserts, and I'm a happy camper.

I bought a new book for my Kindle, The Shift by Tory Johnson.  Tory is a contributor on Good Morning, America and has recently lost a great deal of weight.  The book was great, and I couldn't put it down.  I finished it the same day I bought it.  In the book she writes that you have to "shift" your focus if you are truly serious about weight loss.  For her, there was no surgery or special diet plans - just a change in her eating habits.  She offered a lot of tips, and I've taken a few to heart.  She wrote in the book that you don't give an alcoholic a drink to celebrate being sober, so why would you eat a special treat to celebrate weight loss.  That made a lot of  sense to me, and to celebrate my loss I bought an immersion blender.  It was one of 1/2 off deals on GMA this morning. I am going to try my hand at crock pot refried beans (without the frying) and the blender will be great for them and for soups.  And it's something I've always wanted. (well maybe not always.)

I have worked on the new purses, and will have 6 of the 12 finished by end of day.  The new fabric for the infinity scarves arrived on Wednesday, so hopefully I can get them started this weekend.  And I may try my hand at some fabric lunch bags.  Mary thinks they would make great teacher gifts, along with the infinity scarves.

I've had a really great time with Jake this week, and I am so grateful to be a stay-at-home Grammy.  Izzy comes here after school, and so I get to see her most days.  And, we have 90 days until Disney.  Hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Today is Tuesday, and my weigh in day.   And . . . .   drum roll please . . . .  this week I lost 4.5 pounds.  I have followed Weight Watchers religiously this past week, and no cheating.  And my numbers show it.  I feel so proud of myself, I can't remember the last time I stuck to an eating plan without a cheat.  I have tracked everything that has gone into my mouth, and have said "no" to sugary sweets when the grand kids have offered them.  And now, as I write this, I feel almost giddy.  It's the incentive I needed to continue following the program with NO CHEATING!!   Go Me!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's All About Incentives

Fall seems to be in the air here in Pennsylvania.  Fall is my favorite time of year, and the cooler temperatures have given me the incentive to begin making some needed changes in my life.

After much discussion with family and prayers for the right answer, I decided to forego the GI Diet and join Weight Watchers.  I have lost weight with Weight Watchers in the past, but lately have found it difficult not to cheat.  I guess I just needed the right incentives.  To some, it doesn't seem like a big deal.  But for me it's a major victory.  I have nearly completed my first week on the program, and I have not cheated. With the help of my family, I have measured my food and calculated my points.  Last night, we even cooked my dinner in separate dishes so that I was "on program".  Although it's not easy, I am forcing myself to move more and my legs can verify that.  Think I just might reward myself . . . with a new hairdo, not food!

This past week I had some sales in my Etsy store, and they gave me the incentive I needed to make some new items for the store.  The last two days were spent cutting fabric and interfacing.  Today I will do the ironing, and tomorrow start sewing 12 new wristlets, some in darker fabrics for fall.  And next week, I should be adding some new items (good for the working girl).  Once these new items are finished, I need to get back to work on Christmas gifts - after all it's only 109 days away (and I lose 7 of those days vacationing at Walt Disney World).

Look for your own incentives to do what's needed in your life, and have a great weekend!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Nerve of Some People

I have to admit that some times I am amazed at the nerve of some people.  Last week, a cousin passed away.  She was close in age to my father, and always seemed like more of an aunt that a cousin.  But her children were close to my age, and I love them dearly - they are all wonderful people, and they were very close to their mother.  I know the pain they are feeling, and wish there was something I could do to ease that pain.  My family went to the funeral home yesterday to pay our respects.  Mary was the last to leave, and before she left, one of my other cousins (with whom I haven't had a lot of contact over the last 10 years) started to question Mary as to why my mother's death hit me so hard - she didn't think we were really that close. She thought I was always closer to my dad.   Mary was livid, but held her tongue.  This cousin, let's call her Bold for the purpose of this post, was right.  I was always closer to my dad.  But when my dad and sister passed away within two years of each other, only my mom and I were left.  I barely know her.  But we needed each other to survive the shock of losing our family members in such a short amount of time.  We cried together, we laughed together, and I'm sure we annoyed each other at times.  But as I got to know my mother, she became a hero of mine.  Nothing, even having cancer diagnoses 9 times, beat her down.  She had a determination and strength that I can only hope to have inherited.  And how, Bold could question my love for my mom is just so unfathomable to me.  Since she hasn't bothered with me in the last 10 years, she couldn't possibly know how I felt about my mother.  For Pete's sake, my mom lived with us for over 4 years.  She moved to a personal care facility only when it wasn't safe for her to stay here.  She was no longer able to get around with her walker, and my house isn't built for a wheelchair - too many small hallways. She was falling a lot, and really needed to be where people could pick her up when needed. I loved her dearly and miss her everyday.   Some of my relatives have questioned why I no longer attend the family reunion.  Let me just say that Bold, and others like her, aren't my idea of a fun family event, and I avoid them like the plague!  So, I just want to say this.  Bold, if you are reading this post, concentrate on your relationship with your mom, and stop worrying about me.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Needing A Fresh Start For a Good Life

Losing weight has never been easy for me.  I have tried nearly every weight loss that comes down the pike, without success.  I have a wonderful family who loves me just the way I am.  And perhaps that's part of my problem, they love me as I am.  I guess you all know that I have had some gall bladder issues lately.  I've lived with it because I am scared of surgery and anesthesia.  But after eating some chicken wings a month ago, I suffered serious gall bladder pain, and made an appointment with a surgeon.  Several times I started to cancel the appointment, but didn't.  Today I wish I had.  I went to the appointment yesterday and left his office feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and beaten down.  He told me that he wouldn't do my surgery because of "my size".  He used that phrase over and over, and I fought back the tears.  He told me I needed to take off 100 lbs. before he would feel comfortable doing any surgery on me.  He suggested the ever popular "gastric" surgery, and I told him no way.  If I am to lose weight, I want to do it on my own, with diet and exercise - not someone with a knife and an elastic band.  I'm not sure if Rod knew how down I was.  But as is my normal way, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and got mad - really mad.  And, I began to make plans for my future.  I enlisted the help of my family.  Already I have gone three days without chocolate - a major step for me.

 I guess anytime one undertakes a weight loss journey, one needs to have incentive, a really strong incentive.  I have a wonderful family, all who love me just the way I am.  And perhaps that's part of my problem.  I've had some gall bladder issues, and stopped taking the Victoza again because of some unpleasant side effects.  I decided to try the Glycemic Index Diet again, both to try for some weight loss and also to keep my blood sugar levels in a good place.  I had already re-read the book, made a shopping list, and studied recipes.

We have a large picnic planned for Sunday, but first thing Monday morning, the GI diet becomes my new Fresh Start. I hope that you will travel with me as I begin this journey.  I know that I can do it, but if I want to take a wrong exit, I will need your support and encouragement.