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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is It Fall Yet??

All the local fairs are either currently running, or already past.  It usually signals that fall is rapidly approaching.  But temperatures this week are still running in the 80's (of course the kids are back in school).  And yesterday, Kristin reminded me that Christmas is less than 4 months away (Shock to the system).

The monkey quilts are finally finished.  Not wanting to free motion quilt in each of the blocks, I decided to try some dot-to-dot quilting.  With a chalk pencil, I market the center of each side of the blocks, and then quilted from dot to dot in a diamond pattern.  It makes the block look nearly like a square-in-a-square pattern.  It was fast, I didn't have to change feet, and I like how it looks.

We are having a "so long to summer" party this coming weekend, and I decided not to start a new project until after the party.  Since our Pittsburgh Pirates are pretty much in the running for the playoffs, I decided that the party needed a baseball theme.  The menu includes "ball park" food.  We are having a gourmet hot dog bar featuring hot dogs and all sorts of trimmings.  I got these red plastic food baskets and waxed paper liners for the guests for their hot dogs.  The trimmings will be on the table in these baseball shaped bowls.  We are also having nachos with cheese and/or Pam's homemade salsa.  And who doesn't love large soft pretzels with nacho cheese???  I've also purchased peanuts in the shells and cracker jacks to munch on, and some Big League Chew and temporary baseball themed tattoos for the kids.  And the twins bought ice cream novelties for each guest for dessert.  I'm pretty certain that a ball game will break out at some point during the day.

Hope your holiday weekend is fun and restful.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Week in Review

It was a busy week, yet it was full of accomplishment. Mary's quilt top has been finished and ironed.  The backing was also ironed, and packed with the quilt and batting.  It's all ready for carrier pickup this morning.

Pat's and Pam's quilt tops are finished, ironed and ready for the fleece backing.  The binding is cut and pressed.  They are packed in a project box waiting to be finished.

Izzy had her kindergarten orientation.  Krissy finished Band Camp and performed for the teachers at the school on Thursday.  Mary finished her summer job, and reported to the school yesterday for her first long-term teaching assignment, and got to see the band performance.  Mary and Bubby got word yesterday that he scored so well on his math test last year that he will be in a regular math class instead of a learning support math class.

Today is the last day that I have all 4 of the grand kids.  I greet this with mixed feelings, since it has been a summer filled with arguing over TV programs, disagreements over lunches, and so very much love and laughter.  But time, as they say, marches on.  And I am left with just Jake, which should be fun.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lazy Saturday, Busy Sunday

Yes, Saturday was a lazy day.  Other than grocery shopping and Rod cutting the grass, we did very little.  Oh, we did manage to fit in a nap.  I love lazy days like that.  For nearly 15 years, it seemed like every weekend was filled with a craft show.  The week before was crazy with finishing up projects, packing boxes and working the show.  By Sunday night, we were exhausted.  Now, we take advantage of our free weekends.

Sunday, however, was quite a busy day.  We had accumulated quite a bit of fresh produce from CSA, and it was time to do something with it.

We had six, large cubanelle peppers, so we mixed up a batch of filling (burger, rice, sauce and seasonings) and cut the peppers in half.  We put half on the bottom of the two pans, then put the filling in like a meatloaf, and then added more peppers on the top.  A nice coating of tomato sauce, and these were ready for the oven.  Once they were cooled, we wrapped them in foil, slid them into a zippie bag and put them in the freezer.  They will taste really good this winter, and will be a quick meal.

 There was a head of cabbage to be used.  Rod boiled the water, put the cabbage head into it, and removed the leaves when they were softened.  I took the filling leftover from the peppers and added some sauerkraut, a little more garlic salt and a little more tomato sauce.  Then I rolled the "Pigs-in-a-Blanket" and put them into the roaster.  We had two full layers, with sauerkraut and tomato sauce in between.  We finished the pan off with the last of the sauerkraut and the remaining sauce, and it went into the oven.  
Next came the eggplant and one of the zucchini that we had.  I had planned on halving them and stuffing them, but Rod suggested we make lasagne with them.  We had some sweet sausage which we added to the remaining cabbage filling, and Rod fried it.  The rice stayed soft, and will be a nice carb addition to the veggie lasagnes.  We did one with eggplant, and another with zucchini.  There were baked, cooled, and packaged for the freezer.  Two more meals for a snowy winter day. 

We ate the "pigs" for dinner, Rod packed a container for his lunch, and we had two pans the size of the lasagne for the freezer.  Two more meals!  I love cooking with my hubby.  It's a great way to spend a rainy day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

UFO Busting, Day 3

I've been working on UFO's that were started years ago, and intended to be used for Christmas gifts.  This is the year that I finish them.  There have been some good moments, and some bad ones.

I had started this pink/turquoise/ medium blue boxy stars blue for Pat.  When I got the bag out on Tuesday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find the sashings and cornerstones in the bag.  But as I started putting the quilt together, I discovered that I was 4 sashings short.  And there was no more of the paisley fabric to be found.  Why would I have put all this in the bag if it wasn't all there?  I have no idea!  I was so frustrated that I put everything aside and, like Scarlett O'Hara, figured I would think about it tomorrow.  That night while battling some insomnia, I had a breakthrough.  So Wednesday morning, I went to the sewing room, found another black/white fabric and proceeded to cut the new sashings.  The outside is the original paisley - sort of a picture frame.  And the new sashings are inside.  It seems to form a pattern and nobody but us needs to know that it wasn't intended to be that way.  Shhh, don't tell!

This morning, I began my next project - finishing the Spin Cycle quilt for Pam.  The first time I saw this pattern, I fell in love with it and knew it would look so great in the Blazin Bandana fabrics from Quylte that I had purchased from Bear Paw Quilt.  Another pleasant surprise - the sashings were cut and in the bag.  But this time, before I started putting the quilt together, I checked to make sure they were all there.  And by lunch time, this top was completed.

So, this week, I have finished three tops.  Since I don't have any kids tomorrow, it will be an ironing and packing day.  Mary's quilt top will be ironed and, together with the backing, be packaged up to send to the quilter.  Pam and Pat's tops will be ironed and ready to be sandwiched.  I will get the prizes for my blog giveaway ready for mailing. I can't believe how wonderful it feels to know that I have completed three unfinished tops.  If I had a big boat, I might even stand up on the bow and shout, "I'm Queen of the UFO".

Hope you have a sew wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

UFO Busting

Whether you call it a senior moment, a brain fart, or mental-pause, I seem to have experienced it .  I have the two sock monkey quilts to finish.  I thought I had already purchased the fleece for the back - orange and lime green.  I searched all weekend, in every nook and cranny, but no fleece. So I checked my past orders.  Seems that what I thought I ordered for the monkey quilts was in fact for the Saddle Up Quilts.  So Sunday night I ordered the fleece I needed.  Since it probably won't come until next week, I needed something to occupy my time.  I mentally went through my list of unfinished projects.  Rod told me that if we were going to Disney in December, I needed to have all Christmas projects finished before we leave.

I had started this batik quilt several years ago as a BOM with the quilt shop where I learned to quilt the right way. I promised it to Mary when I was working on it, but alas it was still in the box.  So yesterday I dragged it out, and lo and behold, it needed two border strips to finish it up.  The strips were cut, and just waiting for me to attach them.  I contacted my longarm quilter, and she said if I get it to her by September 1, that she can have it finished for Christmas.  I needs a good ironing, and it's ready to go.

What to do next?  A couple years ago I started a Boxy Stars quilt for the Saddle Up.  I used pink and turquoise bandana fabrics from Joann Fabric.  When I ran out, I used some medium blue from Mary Englebreit to finish up the blocks.  I loved this quilt pattern, and so did daughter Pat.  When she demanded it for herself, I put it away unfinished.  This morning I dug it out.  Eight of the twelve blocks were finished, the last four were cut and partially finished.  Before I carried the bag to the living room, I selected some fabrics that I thought would look OK as sashings and cornerstones.  But, when I took the blocks from the bag, the sashings and cornerstones were already cut and ready to go.  The sashings are finished, and now the quilt top is ready to be put together.  Yeah me!!!  Another UFO checked off my list.  And a Christmas gift for Pat.

What shall I do tomorrow?  This quilt is called Spin Cycle.  I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it, and started yet another Saddle Up quilt using bright bandana fabrics in nearly every color of the rainbow.  Daughter Pam claimed this one (do you see a pattern here?)  Again, I stuck it in a box and never finished it.  That will be my next project - another UFO busted, and another Christmas gift.

So, what next?  Daughter Mary's family are all Steeler fans, but Jimmy and Bubby are probably the biggest you've ever met.  Years ago, Jimmy asked me to make him a quilt out of "terrible towels".  Two years ago, I bought the towels and (you guessed it) put them in a box and did nothing with them.  So my next project will be finishing up Jimmy's quilt.  I have black and gold towels, and will put them together in an eye pleasing pattern, and them put the top on Steeler fleece.  A gift fit for any Steeler fan, but especially for Jimmy (and another UFO finished).

And now for the next UFO project. George likes the Steelers too, but he's a bigger Penguin hockey fan.  So for him, it's a quilt made with the Penguins' rally towels.  Already bought, never made.

And that brings us to Kristin.  She requested a skirt for her Christmas tree. I bought two different patterns, but haven't decided which one to use.  She wants red, green, and gold fabrics - nothing cutsie.  So once the monkey quilts are done, I will start shopping for fabric for her tree skirt.

Do you think I'll have any extra room in my sewing room once these UFO's are busted?

Monday, August 12, 2013

School Days are Approaching. . .

And it makes me sort of sad.  Izzy will be starting kindergarten.  My last act as the kids' daycare provider is to make their pillow for kindergarten.  Since the beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching, today I make Izzy's pillow.

Krissy's pillow was made of a pastel Scooby-Doo fabric.  I can't remember if I put her name on it, it seems so long ago.  She and I worked together on that pillow while everyone else was at the hospital as Bubby had a grand mal seizure that morning just after Mary left to take Krissy to orientation.  Working on that pillow helped to keep us calm while we waited for news on Bubby's condition.  We were nearly finished when the phone rang, and it was Bubby.  He had wanted to call his Grammy and the doctor told everyone to let him call.  He sounded fine - his anti-seizure meds had been seriously low and fixing that fixed him.

Bubby's pillow was Steeler's themed.  His name was on one side (they call him James at school) and his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were profiled on the other side.
Boy do I wish my sewing room looked like this now!!

Izzy loves Hello Kitty, so that's the fabric I chose for her.  I will miss her so much, and will be left with just Jake after the 26th of August.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

And The Winner Is . . . .

Cindy Davis.  Since Cindy was the only one who responded to the Giveaway Post, she is the automatic winner.  Congratulations, Cindy.  I will get your items mailed this weekend.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Canning Jar Projects

This morning Pat Sloan posted that she is addicted to containers, (particularly mason jars) and asked what you use your containers for.  One poster said that she has solar lids on her canning jars.  I had never heard of solar lids, so I asked where she found solar lids.  Imagine my surprise when my nephew posted a link to a site, and some photos of lights he had wanted to make.  Aren't these just beautiful???  He said he had wanted to make night lights for his son.
And he had also posted this photo.  I think these are so beautiful, and need to find out what you put on the inside, or if it's just the jars. So, I started by googling "Solar Light projects" and found this wonderful blog, entitled Disfunctional Designs.  Wow, are these some fantastic ideas?  And now the wheels start turning!  What else could I do with this idea???  I have a jar of broken glass from a windshield, and can only imagine what it would look like.  Wouldn't this idea be beautiful for Christmas in the bathroom where you don't want to use electric?  I loved the idea with the plastic pumpkins.  Hmmm.    If I could find some lightning bug decals, you could make lightning bug jars that the kids would love, and would not be able to let the bugs go.  Jake is a dinosaur lover, and the dinosaur terrarium on the Disfunctional Design blog would make a great night light for him.  And Jake, while looking over my shoulder, just said we should make one with a snowman inside.  It would be  like a lighted snow globe minus the snow.

What ideas can you think of??  Please share.

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's Good to Be the Queen!

Yes, we are planning another trip to Walt Disney World. You're going again, some people ask. But, for me it is truly a vacation - I don't have to cook, worry about menus, or make the bed.  This trip has been planned for December, and I'm so excited.  Usually we stay at Port Orleans - French Quarter, a Mardi Gras themed resort.  It's peaceful, small, and so quiet with beautifully manicured landscaping.  But when Disney released free dining yesterday, French Quarter was not included.  So, we all decided to move our reservations to Port Orleans - Riverside.  Our travel agent, Linda Norton of The Magic for Less Travel, worked all day and emailed us updates on our status. She was such a trooper, and I can't imagine how nerve wracking it must have been for her, being on hold with Disney for 5 hours. I had requested a handicapped accessible room because of the walk-in shower.  Linda was unable to get me an accessible room in the area where the others were going to be staying.  So, she did the next best thing - she booked us into a Royal Room.  Yes, it's more expensive; but, as the queen bee, who deserves it more than I do!!!  LOL.

Anyone who knows me, knows that The Princess and the Frog is one of my favorite Disney films.  And the Royal Rooms are themed after this movie.  Just look at this room!  It truly is fit for a queen.  We will be staying in an area known as "The Mansions".   This part of the resort looks just like a Southern plantation, with magnolia trees and beautiful fountains.  And now my excitement grows.

The Christmas season is so magical at Disney.  The decorations at Magic Kingdom are beautiful.  EPCOT features the Candlelight Processional, in which the Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator who is backed by a 50 piece orchestra and massive choir.  The first time we saw it, Stephen Curtis Chapman was the narrator.  It was cold and rainy, and I didn't really enjoy the show.  Hopefully, this year will be better and Dennis Haysbert is our scheduled narrator.  I love his deep voice, and I think he will do a bang-up job.  There are storytellers in each country, and I look forward to seeing them since our last day at EPCOT at Christmas it was like a cold monsoon had settled over the park, and our main concern was trying to keep warm and dry.  One of the best things about this trip is that we are scheduled to eat at Biergarten, the German restaurant in EPCOT.  As a German major in college, I love the food and the music.  The wait staff is generally from Germany, and I have in the past taken advantage of this opportunity to use my knowledge of the language, while enjoying the Oompah band.  We have also scheduled a fireworks cruise to view the Illuminations fireworks at EPCOT. The show has a special Christmas tag at that time of year, and I missed it the last time because I was so cold that Rod and I chose to return to our resort.  So, I'm really looking forward to this trip and now I just have to wait patiently for December.

Queen Bee, signing off.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Welcome Home

Today I am welcoming home my BFF - or at least my favorite sewing machine.  I missed you terribly, my friend.  My old friend - the EuroPro - filled in quite capably while you were gone.  But it just wasn't the same without you.  He's noisier, more temperamental, and since his bobbin winder broke, I just can't wind a bobbin with him.  That's why, the first thing I did when you came home was to wind a couple of bobbins.  I couldn't get over how very quiet you sewed - just like when you were brand new.  I clean you on a regular basis, but I guess you responded to Ed's hands with more pleasure.  It doesn't surprise me - after all, he's so much more experienced since that's part of his job.

It was so wonderful to hear you humming quietly while finished the pot holders for Kristin.  Today I will be cleaning off my sewing table, and ironing the binding for the two sock monkey quilts that need to be finished.  Tomorrow I will iron those quilts and get them sandwiched for quilting.  And then on Saturday, I will don my white gloves with the textured rubber fingertips and we will quilt those babies and get them all ready for gifting.

I'm so happy to have you home.  Please don't leave again for a very long time.