Saturday, December 27, 2014

Post Christmas happenings

Don and I had a quiet and quite nice Christmas. For the first time since our first child was born, 37 years ago, we had no children home for the holiday, and frankly, it was nice and relaxing.  Don't get me wrong--I would have loved to have a houseful of my kids and their partners and the grandchildren, but it was nice to have a quiet day as well.  Of course, we Skyped with everyone on Christmas day and it looked as though all 3 of the kids were having good times with their new families. And isn't that what we, as parents, should be grateful for?  That our children have moved out of our family and are happy with the new families they've created?  I think so anyway.  

Don and I did have a conversation that next year, if we're alone again for the holidays, we will be involved in some project to bring more meaning to the season. Maybe helping at the food pantry or the homeless shelter or something like that. 

Since I didn't have much work to do, I've been in my sewing room finishing up a few things.  I finished Johanna's Christmas quilt that she requested. I'd pieced the throw sized top several years ago and when it was finished, I didn't like it so I just put it away. When Jo asked for a Christmas quilt, I showed her the top and she liked it a lot, so I quilted it up for her.  The more I worked on it, the more I liked it!  It's like an argyle sock pattern with all the diamonds in there.  I found a piece of fabric in red, green and aqua that I thought worked out well for the backing. 

 I just made up quilting designs as I worked on it, making some dots to mark my place and I free-handed the stitching. I'm quite satisfied with how the designs came out.  One very good thing that came of this quilting is that I began using a red and greed variegated thread that was left over from another project I did years ago, and I thought I'd have enough.  Well, that was wrong!  In all, I used 5 spools of similar variegated thread that were leftovers from other projects!  I am so happy to see my thread drawer cleaned out a little!  Looking at the quilt, you really can't tell I used different threads since they all are variegated and they blend in with the colors of the fabrics.  Jo's coming home on Sunday and she can take it with her then.  

Today I did some work on my Etsy shop, Jolly Ruby. A few weeks ago, I discovered several table runners that I'd made last year and never listed in the shop.  By the time I found them, it was too late to put them in the shop so I did it today.  I also slashed prices in the shop by 50%  and am having a 3 week sale to try to clear out things and make way for new things that I'm working on.  If you want to pick up an item for a very good price--and contribute to a very good cause--take a look at Jolly Ruby. Even better, let everyone you know that now's the time to get a terrific handmade quilted item for their home.  Not only I but all the people with disabilities who benefit from this shop thank you with all our hearts.

I made this table runner with a cartoon Santa and reindeer fabric in the center framed with a candy cane border.

I made this runner with the same Santa fabric alternating with plaid fabrics and bordered with coordinating plaid fabrics.

I also made this chevron table runner using a snowflake patterned red fabric with a cream contrasting fabric. I stitched a few glittery snowflake buttons on it as well--there's one right by the snowman's base.  

And all the other items in the shop are marked at 50% off as well.

Today, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall! This is a view of my side yard through the window.

We'd had snow in November followed by mild temps for the past 3 weeks, resulting in a brown Christmas here in the Northland. So the beautiful snow was a wonderful sight to see this morning. Of course, if I'd had to drive anywhere, I'd not have thought it was so pretty, I suppose.  And if I had to shovel it, I'm sure I'd not be so pleased, but Don said he'd get out the snowblower and take care of the driveway so I'm free to get downstairs and work on a quilting project.  And I'm going to do that right now!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On the eve of Christmas Eve

At my house, we're celebrating Christmas a few days early since Jo has to work on both Christmas Eve and Day. She's arriving this afternoon to bake some sugar cookies to take to the shelter where she works for the kids to decorate tomorrow.  

I'll be making a huge pot of Choucroute Garni, our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.  If you've never made it, please give it a try. People who say they hate sauerkraut find that they love this dish. It comes from the Alsace region of France so it's a little bit French and a little bit German, and a lot bit good!   Here's a link to one of several terrific recipes you can try,,

I found a recipe for Choucroute Garni in a cookbook I got over 30 years ago free from a sausage company--Hormel or Armour maybe.  Quite a few years later, we were living in a very Scandinavian area of Minnesota and from Thanksgiving until Christmas, all the women at work talked about the Scandinavian foods they were making for the holidays.  Don't get me wrong--I like Scandinavian foods as much as the rest of you, but I got a little  (all right, a lot!) irritated when it was assumed that everyone was enjoying lefse and lutefisk  (maybe "enjoy" isn't the right term to use in the same sentence with lutefisk!) and not considering that some of us are of different nationality, like German as I am.  So, in protest, I began making Choucroute Garni for Christmas Eve dinner and have done so for the past 30 years.  Sometimes, I try to beg out of it, but the kids always insist.  So, even though it's only Jo with us this year, out comes the sauerkraut and the sausages!

Over the years, I've simplified my version of Choucroute Garni.  I take a jar of my husband's homemade sauerkraut and add some chicken broth (although white wine would be good too), some chopped onions, juniper berries, coarsely ground black pepper, and some sliced carrots.  I mix in a package of Little Smokies cocktail weiners (my kids' favorites) and a variety of sliced sausages--Polish, Kielbasa, bratwurst, etc.. Sometimes I may add some ham or smoked pork chops or spare ribs--whatever I feel like.  Then the whole thing cooks on very low heat for several hours--2 to 4 depending on how much I'm making.  When everyone's home, I use 2 to 3 quarts of kraut and it has to cook for 4 hours or more. Today, with just 3 of us, I'll make much less and cook it for only a couple of hours.  Using a slow cooker would work fine too I think.

Along with the sauerkraut and meats, I serve boiled potatoes with lots of butter and a dark rye bread. Typically, I'll have an apple based dessert to finish this meal, but today, it'll be a freshly baked cookie.  It's a basic, peasant-type meal that I love to make and my family loves to eat.

Other than some cooking today, I have everything ready for the holiday.  We had a weekend visit with our son and his family last weekend, have visited with old friends, and gone to a holiday play at the Mabel Tainter theater here in Menomonie, one of the 15 most beautiful theaters in the world!

We were able to get tickets for the local production of "It's A Wonderful Life."  And I must say, this beautiful theater must bring out the best in the amateur theater guild we have here because every show I've seen at the Mabel has been exceptional!  

In between having holiday fun, I've been trying to finish the quilting on a Christmas quilt Jo asked me to make for her.  I had made the top several years ago and all I had to do was quilt it up. It's nearly finished but I don't think I'll have it ready for her to take with when she leaves tomorrow. I guess I'll have to make a trip to her house after Christmas and personally deliver it!  I like that idea!  I don't have a pic of it but will try to remember to take one when it's finished.

I did get this huge quilt finished and delivered to my friend who made draperies for me in exchange.  

Elaine had been with me at a quilt store and she fell in love with this quilt on display in the shop. She bought the pattern and fabrics and then it sat. When I moved house and needed draperies--her specialty--she offered to make them and I offered to make the quilt.  The draperies are beautiful and she's very satisfied with the quilt, so all is well.  The picture is the finished top laid out on the floor of the sewing room at retreat last October. It measured 96" by 106." Elaine had me add extra borders so it would fall over the side of the bed but that meant that it really was too big for my domestic sewing machine to quilt up as well as I wanted. So I took it to my neighbor who has a long arm and she did a beautiful job on it.  And because it is so big and I wanted to deliver it to Elaine before Christmas, I machine stitched the binding, using a decorative stitch on the top side.  I was quite pleased with this first attempt at machine stitching down the binding and I may do this again on large quilts.

What a large post!  I've been way too busy since November to continue posting daily or even weekly and it likely will continue this way while I work this temp job until April. But I still read my blogs every day and will post when I have some extra time, like today.

I hope everyone who reads this has time to relax and enjoy the winter holidays and can spend good time with family and friends.  If you are traveling, be safe and warm.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

And I have a finish!

I've been working on this little table mat that I embroidered and today I finished stitching on the binding!  I really like the bright colors in this piece but it won't stay at my house long, I hope. I put it for sale in my Etsy store and I hope it sells quickly.  Here's the link if you want to take a look.  Jolly Ruby.  

At my last guild meeting, I happened to win a fat quarter of the red-white-blue striped fabric and I think it looks perfect in this piece.  Then I wanted to use some snowflake fabric and stopped at the quilt store the other day. No snowflakes there but the one I found has little stars in it and looks kind of like snowflakes.

Then, how to quilt it?   I stitched in the ditch around the inner border and did some outline stitching on the embroidered center. Then I found a tutorial here that was perfect for what I needed in the border.  I'd never been on this gal's blog before so I  took a look around while I was  there and found some great quilting in there so I think I'll have to visit her more often.

Then this morning I stitched on the binding and called it done!  I like this one so much that I think I'll have to make another one for myself--assuming this one sells! :)--but I don't have enough of the striped fabric so I'll need to use something else.  I'm leaning toward something in aqua and lime green rather than the red and blue I used for the snowmen and the borders.  What do you think? 

The rest of this day has been spent fooling around with crumbs--I think I must have about 60 of the little blocks now and I really need to begin sashing them and putting them into a quilt of some kind.  It's just so much fun playing with them instead of making backings as I swore I would do today!  Well, maybe tomorrow will see me wrestling with backings.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

I've jumped into my new work with both feet and am really loving it!  So far, I've just worked at home, reading records and such, but today, I've scheduled several appointments and am looking forward to each of them.  I knew it was the right thing to do when I accepted this job offer!

Consequently, not much has occurred in the sewing area.  I hope to spend some time in the sewing room this weekend and get several backings finished so I can get 3 small quilts pin basted and ready to go under the needle.  I also have a large quilt that needs a backing so I can take it to my neighbor who does long-arm quilting.  

This is the quilt top I made for my friend who is making draperies for me in exchange.  It turned out to be nearly kingsized since she wanted a long drop on 3 sides so it covers the sides of the bed. I've done a king sized quilt on my domestic machine before and I don't want to do any more that size!  And, she's such a good friend that I want the best work on this piece and I don't think my quilting is quite up to that standard.  

So, it looks like the weekend will be filled with quilting "chores" ( I never like working with the large pieces of fabric that it takes to make backings!) and next week I'll get some actual quilting done, I hope.  But now, into the shower and off to work!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Today I began working on the temp job I agreed to do, and it seemed quite strange.  Negative strange because I had to sit there at the laptop and concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing instead of running off and doing whatever I wanted. And positive strange because it felt soooo good to be getting back in the groove of doing my life's work.  I did what I needed to do and finished up by 12:30 and then took the afternoon off.

I spent several hours in the sewing room working on this. Its a little embroidery by Crabapple Hill that I've had for e-v-e-r!  I've taken up the habit of trying to have a bit of handwork to do while I have my 2 cups of AM coffee with my husband.  I got the idea from Barbara at Three Cats Ranch and you can read her blog here.  She has the same outlook on life as I do and I thoroughly enjoy reading of her adventures every day.  And sometimes, her cat, Smitty, posts an entry on her blog so we get to see the world from his view as well.

Anyway, when I'd finished the wool penny trivet and the bindings on my 2 pumpkin table runners, I had to come up with something else. and here it is.

You really can't see anything on the fabric except the stitching I've done.  The piece finishes at 6" or so, square, and I'll be putting a patchwork border on it and making a pillow cover out of it.  It'll be for sale in my Etsy store when it's finished.

Last night, I had a great time at the guild holiday party!  When I arrived, I took my sweet potato dish over to the buffet table and thought it was the dessert table, it was so full of cookies, cakes, brownies, and even an apple pie!  Well, it was a potluck so you never know what you're going to get for dinner, and last night, we ate dessert first, middle and last!  And a few sweet potatoes thrown in as well. LOL!  Everybody had a great time opening our boxes filled with someone else's scraps and each box had something nice tucked in along with the scraps, so I think everyone was happy about their gift.

I'm going off now to make some turkey soup using the stock I made yesterday from the carcass, and we'll have a (hopefully) delicious supper in an hour or so.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fitness update

Back in mid-November, I wrote about new information about exercising and aging here and I thought it was time to post an update.  In the 2 weeks since I began exercising, I've done pretty well, I think.  I've only rode the stationary bike and not done any Wii boxing due to a shoulder injury I gave myself when I enthusiastically boxed 2 weeks ago.  Small price to pay for scoring a knock out on the Wii guy, but still.

Anyway, I've been on the bike nearly every day--even Thanksgiving. The first time, I pedaled for about 20 minutes and went about 4.5 miles. I know I should have made note of these things but I didn't, so kick me, all right?  Well, I've been gradually increasing the time and the effort and today I pedaled for about 45 minutes and went over 9 miles!  I should go back on the Wii and see if it shows any improvement, but I'll leave that for another day.  So, I'm quite happy with my efforts so far. Of course, the scale hasn't budged a bit, but I have faith that eventually it will.  I know that 2 weeks is just the beginning, but since I can see progress, that's very encouraging.

Today is going to be very full.  After I exercised, I machine stitched the binding on the 2nd pumpkin table runner and hope to finish it this afternoon.  I have some cleaning to do--shouldn't take more than an hour--and have to make a quick run to the store to get the ingredients I need to make the sweet potato dish I'm bringing to the pot luck tonight.  And if there's still time, I should sit down and see if I can get my laptop up and running so I can begin doing my new temp job.  Maybe I should rig up my bike like this:  

Computer powered by an exercise bike.

I wrote the first part of this post in the morning and now I'll show you the fruits of my day's labors. No, the housekeeping is still waiting for me. Darn!  

Here are the ingredients for my sweet potato dish. I used long skinny potatoes since I'm going to slice them into rounds, 2 cups of OJ, couple cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup fresh cranberries and a handful of pecans.  

I peeled the potatoes and cut them into 1/2" rounds and then cooked them until they were just getting soft.  It took about 10 minutes, I think. While they were cooking, I mixed together the OJ, garlic, and cranberries and cooked it down into a syrup. I tasted it at the end and added 1 T of brown sugar to sweeten it up a little. Drained the cooked potatoes and covered them with the sauce. Oh yeah, I salted the cooking water for the potatoes and added ground pepper to the orange sauce.  The cranberries gave it a bit of a rosy color and then I topped it all with the chopped pecans.  

And here's the finished product.  I think it looks nice and it tastes pretty darn good too.

I also took the turkey carcass from the frig and it's in the pot making stock for some turkey soup for tomorrow night's supper. And I did get the binding finished on the 2nd pumpkin runner!  Now I'm all ready to go the the guild meeting tonight and PARTY ON!  

Monday, December 1, 2014


I was so tired by the time dinner was finished that I sat down to watch a re-view and pre-view of PBS's Downton Abbey and totally blanked on writing the final November blog.  I had vowed to post every day for a month, but didn't quite hit my mark. I'd missed a day previously, my November entry didn't post as I'd wanted it to, and then yesterday.

I have to say that I've enjoyed writing this blog (which is like a diary to me) every day.  I've had to come up with things that were a little more interesting in my life and that's hard to do since I think my life is pretty blah!  But, having to find something to write about forced me to look closely at the things I do every day and realize that life isn't as dull as I sometimes think it is. Just wait--someone will be reading this and say, OMG! Her life is totally boooooring!  But, boring is in the eye of the beholder, right?

So, I think I'll continue to write every day with an occasional miss, if I may be allowed.  Not too many people are reading this blog and that's ok. I never intended to be one of the blogging rockstars. (I am in my own mind, so that's all that matters.  ;0)  )  I do wish that people would leave comments, though. I love to hear from you and get to know you a bit but I can't do that if you don't let me know that you're really out there. As a consequence, I've begun to be better about leaving comments on the blogs I follow and responding to those who leave comments on mine.  But, as I said, this is more a diary for me, and if someone wants to comment, that's great!  

Yesterday, I got a couple of finishes.  Here's the completed pumpkin table runner and the second one is waiting for it's binding--maybe tonight. 

 Here's a close up of the swirly design I quilted in the background.  I did an outline of the applique and stitched a couple of curved lines in the pumpkins to make them seem a bit more like real pumpkins.  In the second runner, I stitched a 1" grid in the background instead of the swirls.

This is the fabric I used for the backing. I bought about a yard more than I needed so I'm thinking what I can make out of it for next year's "Fall Collection" :) in my Etsy store.

And here's the pattern I used from Shabby Fabrics.  They also make an apple table runner with 2.5" patches in red, and a pine tree design using green patches.  These things look so much more interesting that using a solid piece of fabric--much richer, IMHO.

The other finish from yesterday is this little card wallet I made for Dan and Erin, to hold their Christmas gift cards. I don't think Dan will want the wallet so it'll go to Erin, I suppose. If he whines, I'll make him one of his own. :p)  The wallet looks brownish in this pix and actually, it's more gray.

Here's the inside of the wallet--three pockets made out of leftover batiks I had from a previous project.

And here's the pattern I used.  I've made several of these wallets and I carry 2 in my purse. One for my quilt shop punch cards and the other for my business cards.  Erin's is the nicest one so far--love those batiks!

That's it for the first day of December. I have to go to work this afternoon--Bah! and Yea!  While I may not have always been happy to have to go to work, I've always been happy (and grateful) to have had work.  So I'm off.  Maybe some stitching when I get home.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The day after Balck Friday

I'm so disappointed.  I'd received a flyer from JoAnn's the other day and I took a look at it today. They had fleece priced at 70% off!  I need a new bathrobe and so I went over to the store, coupon book in hand. As usual, the coupons are only good on items that aren't already on sale, but you know that nearly everything in the store is "on sale" all the time, so it's hard to use the coupons. The flyer also had a 20% off your entire order coupon and one for 50% off one non-sale item. So I thought I'd surely be able to use one or more of the coupons.

Got to the store--it was a little busy but for once, there was plenty of staff.  I found the pattern I wanted--it wasn't on sale--and the fleece I wanted, and while I was waiting in line at the cutting table, I found a magazine I wanted.  Fleece got cut so I joined the 7.5 mile long line at the registers!   I made small talk with the lady behind me and it didn't seem to be such a long line then.  Again, there was enough staff so the line moved nicely and while I waited, I took another look at the coupons flyer and decided the 20% off was the better one to use.  Got the the register, gave my things and the coupons to the clerk who informed me that the 20% off ended at noon and it was now 12:30.  She then informed me that the 50% coupon couldn't be used on the pattern or the magazine for some logical reason that I've since forgotten.  I was so disappointed! She pointed out the very smallest print on the coupon with the disclaimers, and which I'd never noticed.  Crap!

This happens everytime I try to use my coupons at JoAnns. Either the items I want are already on sale or there's nothing I need or want that I can use the coupon on.  I give up.  I'm going to throw the flyers in the trash as soon as they come to in the mail and simply go to the store when I need something and not worry about coupons.

The good part of this story of disappointment is that I got a very nice fleece for my robe and I didn't yell or scream or make a scene of any kind.  I'm feeling rather proud of myself for that.  I'm just giving up on JoAnns.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My month of blogging is nearly over!

I can't believe that November is nearly finished! I looked at the calendar to check the date of my guild's holiday party, thinking I had a week to get ready, and it's NEXT TUESDAY! I'm so glad I checked, but still, I'm amazed this month has flown.  Turning into December next week means that I have to begin the temp job I agreed to do and that means I can't spend as much time in the sewing room as I have these past several months!  I'm not sure if I like that aspect of returning to work, even part time!

Well, yesterday was so much fun with my extended family and my daughter.  The food was delish, the wine was tasty, and the company was so much fun!  I think we all say Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because we get together with no expectations other than that the turkey be cooked through!  Doing lots of food prep things ahead of time meant that, for once, I was able to enjoy the day with my guests and not be totally exhausted.

Today, I'm at home--NEVER do I go shopping on "Black Friday!"  No way, Jose!  I don't even like to shop on weekends, much less the busiest shopping day of the year!  I prefer to go to the store on Mondays if I can, morning preferably.  Usually not too many people in the stores then, and that's the way I like it.

Johanna stayed overnight and we had a very nice visit with her today before she had to leave at noon. After she left, I managed to finish stitching together the wool penny rug that I'll be using as a trivet on my table. Here it is. I think it measures about 10" in diameter or so.  It was fun doing this handwork with felted wool and I think I'll be doing more work with wool, but probably not these pennies again. Stitching the layers on was not difficult but stitching the pennies to each other was challenging.  I only hope that no one looks too closely at my joinings because they're not pretty.

And I assembled the pumpkins into 2 table runners, one shown here, pin basted and ready for me to get it under the needle.  Tomorrow, I think!   I decided to make 2 runners of 3 blocks each because 4 blocks would have been too long for my table and then I'd have 2 more blocks left over, and they would not be long enough for another runner. What I'll do with the second runner, I'm not sure.  Probably a gift to either Tessa or Jo.

I also assembled the shoebox of scraps that I'm bringing to the guild party for the gift exchange.  I've got all sorts of stuff in there, including a rolled up paper and wood calendar I got from the Chinese restaurant the last time I ordered take out!  LOL  Okay, so it's not technically a quilting related item, but hey, every quilter needs to keep track of the date, right?  How else would we know when the fabric store sale is on or when the guild retreat is scheduled?  In the shoebox I included a couple handsful of crumbs from my crumb box along with printed directions from Bonnie Hunter's website, and directions to feed this starter kit with scraps every time you do some sewing and when you're needing to play, to go ahead and make a crumb block or two.  I hope whoever gets my box has fun with it!  

I just remembered that Bonnie Hunter's new winter mystery quilt, Grand Illusion,  was announced today, so I have to go and take a look at it and plan to get some sewing done on it tomorrow.  How about you--will you be making this quilt too? 

This was supposed to automatically post yesterday!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Whether in the US or another country, whether you celebrate in October or November, whether or not it's chilly or steamy where you're located, whether you're religious or not, it's time to give thanks!

No matter how bleak my life has seemed at times, there is always, always, something to be grateful for.  I may have to search for that something, but it's there.  No, I've never have had all the material riches others have. I've had a wonderful and patient husband, 3 healthy, intelligent, and creative children, work that is extremely fulfilling and worthwhile, and friends that I've loved for many years.  Yes, I have a lot to be grateful for.

Today, I have family gathered around me, good food on the table, a warm house and I am grateful for all of these things.

I found this poem which describes a farmer on his last journey of the day, going home in the wagon.  Although I'm not a farmer and I've only driven a station wagon, this poem sums up how I feel at the end of a busy and and fruitful day. Seeing the lights on in the windows and knowing it's warm inside and that my family will welcome me at the door--that's what I give thanks for today, and hopefully every day.  


(John Charles McNeill, 1874-1907)

Cows in the stall and sheep in the fold;
Clouds in the west, deep crimson and gold;
  A heron's far flight to a roost somewhere;
  The twitter of killdees keen in the air;
The noise of a wagon that jolts through the gloam
            On the last load home.

There are lights in the windows; a blue spire of smoke
Climbs from the grange grove of elm and oak.
  The smell of the Earth, where the night pours to her
  Its dewy libation, is sweeter than myrrh,
And an incense to Toil is the smell of the loam
            On the last load home. 

On this day of Thanksgiving, my wishes for you are that you are with friends and/or family who love you, that you are warm and safe in your home, and that you have good food to eat and with which to celebrate this holiday. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Easy appetizer

I'm making this as one of the appetizers today. I've made it before but decided to look up the "recipe" to see if I was missing anything. Nope. Guess not.

Pepper Jelly Appetizer
recipe image
Submitted By: Donatella
Photo By: Scotdog
Prep Time: 2 Minutes
Ready In: 2 Minutes
Servings: 6
"Traditionally made with cocktail sauce, the cream cheese block here gets peppered instead with this sweet-hot jelly. "
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
1/2 cup mild pepper jelly
1.Spread jelly over the block of cream cheese.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Allrecipes.comPrinted from 11/27/2014

Can it get any easier than this!  And tasty too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Day--Busy!

It's evening before Thanksgiving.  I and my husband have been working all day and now are able to relax a bit.  He took over housecleaning chores, except for the bathrooms which I did, and I was in the kitchen the rest of the day.  I roasted the turkey and took the meat off the bones when it was cool, and put the juices in the garage to cool.  The frig is full.  I made the cornbread stuffing or dressing, whatever you want to call it, and it's in the frig ready to bake tomorrow. And I made 3 pies and here they are!

The upper left, of course, is the pumpkin pie. The upper right is an apple and cranberry pie. And in the center is the gluten-free blueberry and raspberry tart.  

In 1989 or 1990, we traveled to my sister's house for Thanksgiving dinner and my niece made pies that year.  She was very quiet and soft-spoken when she was in high school, and after the meal was cleared, she went to the kitchen to bring out the desserts after.  But she came back to the dining room and whispered to her mother, "There's enough pie for each of us to have half a pie!"  Yeah, she and her mom had kind of gone overboard that year!  So, that's the Thanksgiving joke in the family--Is there half a pie apiece?  Not this year at my house.  Only 3 pies for 12 people.  We'll have to make do with only a fourth of a pie each!  Oh, well.  

Tomorrow, I only have to make sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, and bake the stuffing. Everything else is coming with the guests.  It should be a good day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Insomnia can be a good thing!

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night?  Just suddenly your eyes are wide open and you instantly know there's no returning to sleep this night?  I think this may happen with women "of a certain age" and I know that it happens to me these days and it never happened when I was in my 20's. Of course, I may have imbibed in a few more cocktails then than I do now, so that may explain why I didn't wake up in the middle of the night.  (LOL!)  In my 30's, the babies woke me up in the middle of the night too many times to count!  But now, I occasionally will bolt up, wide awake, in the wee hours of the morning and I just know I may as well get up and begin my day.

So, at 4:30 AM, I was in my sewing room working on these pumpkins, embroidering the vines on each block.

I got the embroidery finished but didn't get back to them to finish assembling the top.  Maybe tomorrow.

Today  I also finished stitching the backing on each of these wool pennies, so the next step is to arrange them and then stitch them together and get it on the table--not likely to get that done before Thursday either.

After I'd done these things, it was into the kitchen for me.  Yesterday I made the cranberry relish and baked the gluten-free cornbread that I'll use for the Thursday's stuffing. Today, it was time to make the pie crusts and get them in the frig to chill.  Yes, I make my own pie crusts--with the help of my trusty food processor that I bought for $25, I think, back in the early 1980's.  It's still going strong so I'll keep it for another few years.  I also used it to make up the roasted red pepper dip that is great with rice crackers. I don't have a pic of it but it looks a lot like this one I found on Food Network

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I found this recipe a few years ago in an old magazine I read while waiting for my husband to complete his medical procedure at the Minneapolis VA.  I swear, the magazine was at least 5 years old, but this recipe caught my eye.  I love making it and its always been a hit, so here's the recipe if you want to try it too.

2-7 oz jars of roasted red sweet peppers, drained (I use fire roasted peppers)
1/3 c dried tomatoes, oil packed, drained and snipped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Place everything in the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate up to a week. Serve with veggies or crackers.

So simple and soooo good!

After I finished my kitchen chores, it was back to the sewing room to make the curtain for Don's golf "studio."  I feel I must explain.  When we moved to this house, the basement ceiling was too low for Don the swing his golf club and play golf on his indoor golf simulator program. While we were in Alabama last winter, the carpenters came in and excavated a pit in the basement floor so he would stand lower and thus have enough head room to swing his clubs.  I know, I know. It was either dig the pit or cut the floor joists--I think the pit was the wiser choice.  (Have I ever mentioned that my husband is a golf fanatic? Oh yeah!)  

So he's busied himself all year, getting this room set up and the last thing he needed was a curtain for the door into a storage area.  Here's a view of "The Pit"  looking toward the sheet he uses as a screen.

And this is the other side of the room, with the new curtain in place.  I think it looks pretty good and he's happy with it as well. Check that off my list of things to do! 

That's how my day has been--very busy and productive.  Now I'm ready to get out my Kindle and relax with my book--or maybe a game of Scrabble. ;)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Sister's Choice is finished!

Indeed, I managed to get that final border on the Sister's Choice quilt and the top is ready to be pinned and quilted. When will that get done--who knows?  I've had quilt tops in my closet waiting to be quilted for over 5 years!  Why the H do I do that?  I love these quilts so why not finish them off and get them on the beds where they belong?

Here are a couple of pix of the border.  I like having the little HST in the border, but in hindsight, I think they would have looked better if I'd bordered them with a colored fabric and made the borders of this quilt a little more elaborate.  But, it's done and it's going to stay that way.

The final border took quite awhile to get sewn on because, again, I had to pin each seam of the 1" half square triangles before I could begin sewing.  As I was pressing the borders after stitching them, I noticed two "Amish squares!" I found 2 of the little HST that were turned the wrong way!  Out of the nearly 400 HST I used in the border, I only found 2 that were turned!  I call that pretty darn good and no, I did not take them out and fix them!  It's my quilt and I'll leave them if I want to!

I also spent some time yesterday stitching down the stems and leaves of the 6 pumpkin blocks I  made for table runners.  Now I need to embroider the curly vines and they'll be ready to be sashed and assembled. Again, sorry but I've not been able to get this pic to turn itself around!  Stubborn thing!

I also finished up the scissor cases so all 10 are bagged up and ready to go the guild next week. We're having our holiday party which is a potluck and we have the best cooks in our guild so I know it will be a wonderful meal.  I think I'll being a veggie side dish of some kind--gotta have something healthy in there, right?  This year, we also are bringing an item to donate to the local food pantry which I think is a great idea and we're doing the gift exchange differently this year as well.  In the past we were told 6 months ahead of time what to make for the exchange--one year it was an apron, another year it was something quilted for the table and a third time it was a wall hanging. But this year, we are to fill either a shoebox or a manilla envelope with assorted scraps and other quilting related things you don't need.  I plan to add some orphan blocks and that little Christmas ornament to my box and maybe a Quilter's Christmas cookbook, or I may save the cookbook for another time. Not sure yet, but I want to get that package done up before Thanksgiving and have it ready to go and off my mind. 

Today I head to the grocery store to get the last items I need to begin cooking for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it's snowing and blowing but I think I'll be able make it there and back. This afternoon, I'll take out this golfing fabric and make the curtain I promised Don for his golf room.  The other day, he mentioned that he'd like to have that up before T day so I made a deal that I would make the curtain after he put up the lights on the house. Lights are up, greenery pot is filled so now I have to make the golf curtain! 

That's what my day is looking like. How about yours?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beginning the countdown to T Day

I have Thanksgiving on my mind.  Planning the menu. Planning the cooking schedule. Thinking about the tables and how to decorate them. Thinking about when I should go do the final shopping.  And so forth. Does everyone do this or am I simply a bit more obsessive than most?  Today I'll go to the store and do the final grocery shopping and then begin my cooking schedule.  I'll be making my own cranberry sauce this year using this recipe here.  It sounds good so lets hope it tastes good too.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

And over the next few days, I'll be making pie crust ahead of time, baking corn bread for the stuffing, and so forth so I have less to do on the big day itself.  This year, since we're being informal and doing a buffet service, I'm going to follow my hairdresser's advice and I'll roast the turkey the day before.  She takes all the meat off the carcass and keeps it (the meat, not the carcass lol) covered with chicken broth in a large crock pot. Just have to heat it up on serving day.  I like that idea!  My kitchen is open to the dining area and I always hate having the carcass sitting out in plain view along with dirty pots and pans.  If I cook the bird ahead of time, I can also dispose of the carcass ahead of time too!  Win-Win!  Also, I can refrigerate the drippings and get rid of the fat before I make the gravy on Thursday!  Another Win!  Yes, I like this idea!  

In addition to grocery shopping, Don and I will make up the front door pots--it's so warm outside that nearly all the snow melted overnight, and it's foggy!--and of course, I want to get back to the sewing room.  I so liked the feeling of finishing a project yesterday that I'm determined to get another finish today--Sister's Choice, get ready for your final borders!

That's about all the day holds for me.  Maybe something unexpected--in a good way--will pop up. Who knows?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finally, some finishes!

I finished the 4 crazy cat pillowcases made from this fabric along with an aqua and blue narrow striped fabric for the flange between the body and the cuff of the pillowcases. They will hold Christmas gift cards for my cat crazy daughters and granddaughters.

In case you're wondering why I've referred recently to my grandaughters--plural--and up until now I've only ever mentioned once grandchild, well, I'm about to instantly acquire 3 more grandchildren!  My soon-to-be daughter-in-law Erin has 3 of the sweetest children so I've begun referring to them as my grandchildren as well as Lily.  Carrie is 15 years old and is one of the nicest young teens I've met in a very long time.  And the little boys are something else--in the best sense!  So, Carrie and Lily will both get cat pillowcases with mad money tucked inside!  The boys will appreciate a toy or two under the tree.

Yesterday, I also worked on these little scissor holders and I finished all 10 of them except for a seam on the last one and stitching on a button.  I'd wanted to get them all done, but dinner prep was calling me. Tomorrow I'll finish the last of them and package them up ready to give out at the next guild meeting in December.

The weather cooperated with us today and Don and I managed to string lights along the eaves of the house.  We won't turn them on until after Thanksgiving, tho. Tomorrow, I want him to go with me to "the woods" where we can prune some evergreen trees of a few boughs which will fit quite nicely in a pot or two by the front door.  I always string colored lights in these pots and they look especially nice when we've had a fresh snowfall and the lights are muted due to the snow. Again, not going to turn them on until after the big T day.

And, I've managed to work out on the stationary bike every day this week but for yesterday. When I returned from my quilting day with the ladies, I was totally exhausted and gave myself the day off from exercising. Today, however, I spent an extra 15 minutes on the bike to try to make up for yesterday. Now, I'm tired out from that!  I just have to keep telling myself that in 6 weeks or so, this will seem like child's play and I'll be riding like the wind!  Whoo Hooo!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside!

Funny Pictures of Cold Weather

It's nearly 8 AM as I write this and it's plenty cold outside here is Western Wisconsin.  I just checked on-line and apparently it's about 0 degrees F (-18 C) and that's pretty cold. But there's good news! Saturday is expected to have highs nearing 40F (+4 C)! I already informed Don that we WILL be putting up Christmas lights this weekend!  

Don is objecting to doing this even though I have 743 strings of outdoor lights in the basement that I bought on sale a few years ago--still in their packaging!  His "logic" is that all the other houses in the neighborhood will be ultra-decorated and our strings of lights will look stupid in comparison.  My "logic" is that I want lights on my house and lights I'm going to have!  Period!  We're finally in a house where we won't need a crane and bucket to get up to the roof to gets the lights up. A simple step ladder will do, I'm sure.  He did seem relieved when I assured him that I wouldn't be doing the house like Chevy Chase did in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation even though it's one of my favorite holiday movies. Love the Randy Quaid character!  Doesn't every family have a relative like that!  LOL! :)

Today will be my sewing day at the Grain Bin. Here's the link and a picture taken from the website:  

The Grain Bin Market & Bakery

As you may or may not  know, I live in farming country and this farm, out in the middle of nowhere and off the main highway going to and from wherever, opened it's door as a bulk food store several years ago. It wasn't long before they added a small quilting area and invited local quilters to come in and use their space for working on projects. They also give classes but I've yet to take any.  I started going there on Friday's for Open Sewing a few months ago and I try to go there whenever I have an open Friday. I get so much more done when I'm away from the house, don't you know?  Well, this simple business has grown with the addition of a genuine quilting store as well as the sewing space, and now they're working on converting the barn across the road into a retreat center!  That is something I'm really looking forward to!  So, today, with the wicked cold outside, I'll be snug in the Grain Bin, sewing my heart out. :)

The last thing I want to mention is the plight of the folks in Western NY state. Yikes!  How much snow can one place get!  I just hope the houses don't start collapsing leaving people homeless in this terrible weather.  Maybe today will be the day the snow stops--let's hope.  If anyone knows of a quilt collection effort for these people, let me know--I'll have something to donate, I'm sure.

Okay, everyone, have a safe and wonderful day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's been nearly 2 days since I posted!  I've been a little busy, but it's hard to find anything to show for it.  I have no idea where the time has gone, but I'll fill you in a little on what I've been working on.

Today, I managed to make one of the folded Christmas ornament that I found here:  I'm not 100% happy with it so I think I'll try a second one and see if I can make it better.  This pix is pretty dark--have I already whined about how bad the lighting is in my sewing room?  Oh, yeah, I did.--and the fabrics really are a dark red with cartoon reindeer and the lighter fabric is a gold plaid.  I found the little deer buttons that I'd bought a couple of years ago, just because they were on sale, and now I have a chance to actually use them! I have yet to find a ribbon loop to add so it can be hung up, and then it'll be good to go.  

Most of the time, I spent on making 9 more of these little scissor holders.  They're made with 5" squares and a 5" square of batting.  I found the perfect sewing-related fabric in a bundle of charm squares that were given to me several years ago and I used up some batting scraps that I'd been saving.  These aren't difficult but they take time--when I was growing up in Minnesota, folks would say they were "putsy." Does anyone else ever use that term these days?  

Anyway, I finished the one and got most of the other 9 pieced and quilted.  I just have to stitch in the ribbon and stitch up the side to make the triangle. Then I need to find some buttons and they'll be done.  

Both yesterday and today, I found time to work out on the bike, although I really had to talk myself into doing it yesterday.  Finally, I put dinner on the stove on low and pedaled for 20 minutes. Dinner was ready and I felt good. Same thing tonight. My body is feeling a bit stiff and sore--more than it usually does!--and I think that's a good kind of soreness.  I hope it leaves pretty soon, though.  One thing that make pedaling easier is a series I found on Netflix--"Gran Hotel."  It's a Spanish series and so far, there's a mysterious disappearance, some romance, and a little sexiness.  Just what I like in a show!  I don't even mind the subtitles--makes me pay attention instead of just listening.  

Tomorrow should be a humdinger of a quilting day.  I plan to be with the quilting group I found that meets on Fridays for "open sewing."  I think I'll finish up the crazy cat pillowcases made with these fabrics:  

I've begun working on 2 of them and have 2 more to begin, so maybe I'll finish them up tomorrow.  I'll also bring along my red and white quilt and do some more work on sashing and borders.  That should keep me busy all day!