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!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yesterday was pretty much a waste as far as getting things done around here.I did my time on the stationery bike, showered and then didn't do much for the rest of the day. Oh yeah, I read my book--a new one by Chris Bohjalian, one of my favorite authors.  

Today, I finished stitching the layers on these pennies that I started last week.

I have the three layers stitched together on all 19 of the pennies. Next is to cut out 19 more brown circles and stitch them on the back as lining. When that's done, I get to play with them and lay them out as I chose and then whip stitch them together. Like my friend Barb, I'll use it as a trivet on my table.  Overall, I'm quite pleased with how they're coming along.  

On my list of things to do today are grocery shopping, making dinner ahead of time so there's a chance for the flavors to blend, and searching for my daughter's jewelry making supplies which she want me to ship to her in Maine.  She makes and sells jewelry in her spare time and she just finished a great sale and has another one coming up in a couple of weeks.  If you want to check out what she has, it's right here on Facebook, Blue Waters Jewelry    You may find something to get as a Christmas gift or whatever. 

Blue Waters Jewelry

I also want to spend some time in the sewing room. My list for there includes finishing the last border on Sister's Choice, making 9 more of the scissor caddies that I mentioned the other day, and trying to make this Christmas ornament to include in my package for the guild gift exchange in December.  

That's what I hope my day will be like. After I post this, I'll get right downstairs to begin pedaling the bike!  Whee Hah!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reversing aging?

Let me preface this post by apologizing to anyone who already knows this. I'm excited because I just learned about it!  And, of course, I have to share it!
I recently began getting Prevention magazine--it's all about natural and healthy information.  In the November issue, there's an article about preventing aging--yeah, right, I says to myself.  But I read the article anyway, and I learned something amazing.  New studies show that exercise not only keeps your muscles fit and trim, but will repair muscles that have gone to flab due to "couch potato-itis."

The article shows MRI images of muscle of athletes and couchies and it's amazing how little muscle is in the couchies' MRIs and how much fat is there instead.  The most amazing thing is the MRI of the muscle of a couchie after only 12 weeks of regular exercise, is as healthy and fat-free as the athlete's!  

"In one study of sedentary men and women in their late 60's [like me], participants who walked on a treadmill or rode an exercise bike for 30 to 40 minutes 4 to 6 times a week increased their mitochondria volume by as much as 68% in just 12 weeks."  I find that simply amazing!  It's like bringing your body back to life!  BTW, the mitochondria are cells in the muscles which metabolize sugar and fat into energy. The more healthy mitochondria, the healthier we are.  And to think that simply exercising will regenerate these mitochondria and thus regenerate our muscles is fantastic!

So, here's a condensed history of my health. When I quit smoking 25+ years ago, I began exercising as a way to try to keep the weight at bay.  I was able to run in (and complete!) several half marathons and I did the same in cross country skiing in the winter.  Over the course of several moves, complete with medical complications and depression at having to leave my friends and community, I became more and more of a couch potato, and when I began my sedentary job in 2005, it all went to hell.  In the 8 years that I worked that job, I gained about 45 pounds!

That brings me to the present time--overweight and out of shape. Can you imagine how I felt when I read about this new research?  It's like I have a chance to get healthy again!  So yesterday, I went downstairs and rode a few miles on the stationary bike and then did some boxing on the Wii.  I used to do kick boxing which I loved and Wii boxing is the next best thing.  Before I went to the boxing program, I took the Wii fitness evaluation and I came out as fit as a 54 year old! (I'm nearly 68 now.) I couldn't believe that!  I thought I'd be much worse than that!  That's another encouragement for me--I don't have as far to go as I thought!  So, I'm beginning a journey to a healthier new me--wish me luck in sticking with the program, okay?  I'll need all the encouragement I can get!

Oh, after I finished the biking and boxing, I spent the rest of the day in the sewing room. My reward for working out! :b) I plan to do the same today.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I missed a day!

Sorry about that.  I was so overwhelmed by my shopping trip yesterday that I totally blanked on writing my daily post.  I said I wanted to post daily for the month of November--can I make up for it with 2 posts in one day?

Yesterday, I and a couple of other quilters went on a trip to Bloomington, MN to check out a new discount fabric store called S. R. Harris. There's a store in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis and recently they opened a new store in the south which may be closer to where I live.  This is a blurry photo of the Northern store taken from the website here and you can see this is a warehouse kind of place with bolts of fabrics stacked helter skelter with no organization.  The first time I went there, I just about lost my mind!  

SR Harris Fabric Outlet

The new store is organized with bolts of fabrics set upright on the shelves instead of laying flat as in the warehouse, so it was much easier to find the fabrics we wanted. And, boy oh boy, did we find fabrics! We each came in with a list of what we wanted to get and then we each found a few extras that we had to take home with us.  I was lucky since my husband had asked me to find some fabric for him, so he never questioned how much I spent.  :) The deal at SR Harris is that the price is 1/2 the marked price on the bolt so fabric selling for $12.99 was actually priced at $6.50--pretty good in my book!

This is the fabric I got for Don. He has a closet in his golf room that doesn't have a door so he asked me to make a curtain for it and this is what I chose.  I think it'll look pretty good in there, and he likes it too.

For myself I chose a lot. Below is a black and brown houndstooth that I will use in the pumpkin table runners as sashing between the blocks and for binding.  The other two fabrics are really washed out in this photo but they are Civil War fabrics that I'm going to use in Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt. I decided to make this quilt with muted Civil War fabrics instead of the brights she chose.  If you want to do this mystery too, go to her blog here quiltville blog and check out the Grand Illusion mystery quilt.  I believe she will release the first directions soon.

These two fabrics I chose as backings. One for a Christmas throw quilt I made a few years ago and which my daughter has asked for. The other fabric--with crows, sunflowers, scarecrows and a few pumpkins-- will be the backing of the pumpkin table runners.

Next are a couple of fabrics I chose to add to my collection of blacks and neutrals. The cream colored one has a map on it--looks like a harbor of some sort, but I have no idea if it's New York or Sydney  I just liked it!

Next on my list was a black and white fabric to use as sashing for my little 3 1/2" crumb blocks. I counted them the other day and I have 50 of them completed so I guess it's time to begin assembling them into a quilt, right?

Also on my list was to find 10 little scissors and I did. For some time I've had this pattern to make little scissor cases and I decided I would make one for each of the primary guild members who helped with last week's quilt tour. I found a partial pack of charm squares with enough coordinating fabrics to make 10 scissor cases, so I want to get them done asap and get them to their rightful owners.

What was not on my list were these 2 fabrics but when I saw them, I had to get them to make pillowcases for Christmas gifts for my cat-crazy daughters and granddaughters.  I'll add a bright colored flange between the yellow cat fabric body of the case and the zig-zaggy fabric for the cuff.  

And that was "all" I got at SR Harris yesterday. Whew!  Now, today I have to go straighten out my sewing room so there's space for all this new stuff!  And I really should do some sewing too, don't you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Sew-In

Today was the first Saturday Sew-In of the season and I've been there nearly all day. My guild holds these sewing events several times a year, in the winter months.  We just get together and work on whatever projects we like. I love sewing in my sewing room, but it's so much more fun when there's others to sew with. 

So today was a fun day. I worked on this project, Talkin' Turkey, another Bonnie Hunter quilt.  

This blurry picture shows a few of the blocks laid out on the table. I had finished all the blocks last February and had some of the sashings and borders done as well.  Today, I finished the pieced sashing and sewed the blocks and sashings together into rows. I have yet to make the pieced sashings for sewing the rows together to complete the quilt center. Then there are several pieced borders to put together, but I already have one of the most complicated ones finished and  ready to stitch on.  

Like many of my projects, this is queen sized and it's one that I'm keeping for myself.  The red and white is so bright and cheery--I know it'll look terrific on my bed. I should be able to finish it up in short order, but I have the still unbordered Sister's Choice and the pumpkin table runners to finish as well. 

So many quilts and so little time!  Oh, the quilter's lament.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I have a clean kitchen!

Yes, I finally got the kitchen all cleaned up yesterday and you practically need sunglasses when you go in there, it's so bright and shiny!  Well, as bright and shiny as a kitchen from the 1970's can be!  Every morning when Don and I have our morning coffee and chat, we talk about how we'll do the kitchen when we remodel, hopefully this summer.  Lots of ideas to be sorted through and planned out and eventually, a consult with the cabinet maker.  I can work in the kitchen as it is, but it will be so much nicer when it's redone.

This is a very dark kitchen with (gag) fluorescent lights in the ceiling--no under cabinet lights which I loved in my old house.  The wood is marvelous and we'll probably paint the structure of the cabinets and have new doors put on if we can't salvage the existing ones.  The bar and it's upper cabinets will go to the dumpster and be replaced with a free-standing island with overhead pendant lights. Oh, and the fluorescents will be gone as well! This kitchen has a hard and cold tile floor while the adjacent dining area has beautiful wood floors.  I'm hoping to replace the tile with a matching wood floor.  So, that's part of my dream kitchen and with luck, I'll have it by next year at this time.  

Other than cleaning the kitchen yesterday, I messed around on the computer and then ran a couple of errands--didn't get to the Goodwill but will try to make it today. It takes me a long time to go to Goodwill since I have to look at everything to see if there's something there for me.  Walmart, which I rarely go to, I can get in and out in about 5 minutes, but a thrift shop or antique shop-- those take me a long time!

This afternoon I have an appointment with a client and I hope to get to the nearby JoAnn's to get more perle cotton to finish those wool pennies.  I also would love to get back in the sewing room to finally get the last border on the Sister's Choice quilt and to begin appliqueing the pumpkins on the table runner(s). Still haven't decided what to do with them.  

So, I'd better wrap this up and get a move on. My cleaning chore for this morning is my bathroom--I hate cleaning the bathroom!  And I hate dusting too!  When I was a girl, my 2 sisters and I had to do the weekly house cleaning every Saturday morning while Mom did the weekly baking. As the youngest kid, my first cleaning job was dusting the living room.  Week after boring week, I did that until I was old enough to be promoted to bathroom cleaner!  I did those two jobs throughout my childhood--every freakin' Saturday!  Never got promoted to vacuuming or mopping (both jobs I "enjoy" doing now) so is it any wonder that I hate dusting and bathroom cleaning?  When I had my own kids, I insisted on Saturday morning house cleaning, like Mom, but I rotated the jobs among the kids cuz I didn't want them to be put in the ruts I was put in.  

Got to go--the day's a-wastin'!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yesterday, I headed out to my friend's house to spend the day working on a wool project.  Barb had made a small penny rug which she uses as a trivet on her table, and she shared the pattern with me and 3 others who had never worked with wool before.  I've never made a penny rug but I've done other projects with wool and I did tons of buttonhole stitching when I was appliqueing  this pattern from Bunny Hill Designs several years ago. Come to think of it, I never finished this project!  Another (forgotten) UFO, darn it!

And I had discovered a bin of wool fabrics that I'd accumulated many years ago when I was on a wool binge for awhile and would find wool skirts at the local Goodwill.  I'd wash them in hot, hot water, and rinse in hot, hot water, dry in the hottest dryer setting and then steam iron them flat.  Then I cut them apart and used them to make several wool lap quilts which have gone on to other homes.  I thought I'd disposed of all my wool when we moved last year, but thankfully, I overlooked the bin and so I had wool to work with yesterday.

The pattern calls for making 19 three layered pennies with each one also having a wool backing. The largest  circle is 2".  This is what I've got done so far:  12 of the 19, but none have the backing stitched on yet.

The pattern showed the thing done on black wool but I chose the brown that I had since I didn't have enough black for the project.  I also found my perle cotton and have enough of the rust colored thread but ran out of the pale yellow that I'm using on the first layer, and I know I'll need more of the brown that I'll use to stitch the backing layer on them.  When that's done, I have to whip stitch them together and call it good.  I don't have a single trivet in my house--I usually use a potholder--so this will be a nice thing to have here.

Thursday mornings the garbage people make their rounds in the neighborhood--between 4:30 and 5:30 AM!  Since the bedroom is on the street side of the house, I usually hear them when they pour the recyclables into the truck--ours and all the neighbors as well.  This morning, I became wide awake and got up at 5:45--way earlier than usual.  So, I went to the sewing room and did some work on this table runner I started the other day.  

 I got carried away as I was making the pumpkins and ended up with 6 of them instead of the 4 called for. So, do I make 2 runners of 3 pumpkins each or one runner of 4 pumpkins and 2 single pumpkin table mats? Or should I make 2 additional pumpkins and make 2 four pumpkin runners?  I'm open to any and all suggestions. (Sorry, but I can't make the picture turn around so it's right side up. So frustrating!)

I know it's a little late in the Autumn for this, but I'll use it until Thanksgiving at least. I'm looking forward to the bright orange on my dining table--should brighten things up a bit!  LOL

This morning, I'm determined to finish my housekeeping chores that have been pushed back every day this week. Got to get that kitchen cleaned before next week arrives!  Then a couple of errands this afternoon, including a stop at the Goodwill to see if I can find a black wool skirt, and hopefully some time appliqueing these pumpkins before dinner.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is winter really here?

Yes, I think winter has arrived in the Northland, and I think it will stay with us until next spring--like an unwelcome houseguest that you can't throw out.  Like Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"  If you've never seen that movie, do so--I think it's one of the funniest movies ever, but people tell me I have a very strange sense of humor, so who knows.

Winter Wonderland Photo

It looks beautiful, doesn't it, in this photo?  Well, it can be. I've lived in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin all my life and I've experienced 60+ winters so far, and yes, winter is a beautiful time of the ear.  When the snow covers everything, the world is soft and quiet and very beautiful--from inside the house. Going out is a different story. A follower who lives in a much more mild climate remarked that she doesn't understand how we can go about our daily lives in the cold winter and I recall a remark made by a native of Alabama saying about the same thing.  I follow a blog written by a Texan who occasionally travels to the north for business and is miserable while he's here.

The Alabaman wondered how we stored up all our food and necessities for the winter because she assumed that we never left the house.  Well, folks, that's not true. I told her I go out every day and the secret, dear readers, is layering.  She said the heaviest jacket she owned was a fleece or sweatshirt so I explained that I would use that as one of 3 or 4 layers I would put on when I went out for a walk or whatever.  That's how one stays warm in the cold winter. Well, let me add that when it gets really cold, like -20 F, even I tend to stay in the house.  Also, seat warmers in the car help a lot too. ; p)

Here in the North, we embrace the winter!  It lasts too long to simply hole up and wait for spring. You'd go nuts if you did that!  When my kids were young, we would go ice skating (outdoors) at least once a week, sledding, and simply playing in the snow--making snowmen, and snow forts, and having snowball fights.  I became a competent cross country skier and would ski several miles every day after the kids were on the school bus. My husband and I went to the local college hockey games every week if we could. After I get my new knee next spring, I plan on taking up snowshoeing as a way to get out and get some sun and fresh air as well as walking throughout the neighborhood.

Another thing that's different in the north--every municipality has equipment to clear the snow off the streets and highways so we can still go about our business. You'll even find snow plow trucks sitting and waiting along the highway when a big snowfall is expected so they can get right on it as soon as the flakes begin to fall.  It was predicted that we would get 8 to 14 inches of snow the other day but that didn't happen, thank goodness!  We only got a few inches and a lot of that melted so the driveways and streets are cleared. But now we're going to have severe cold for the rest of the week.  I won't let that keep me in the house, though.  Today, I'm going to a friend's house to work on some wool stitchery that we've both been wanting to do, but before I do that, I need to do a few of the housekeeping chores that I neglected yesterday.  

This sums up my attitude toward housework!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans's Day, 2014

I'm not in favor of war.  None of it, in principle.  I believe sometimes there are grievous threats to humankind that have to be stopped but other than that, I don't think war is the answer. When I found this image, I decided it was the thing to post on this Veteran's (Armistice) Day.

No one in my family ever served in the military except for my brother back in the late 1950's.  My mother told me that my dad had wanted to serve during WWII but was rejected for numerous reasons--medical, family, heritage--so it was not to be.  I married a man who was career Air Force when we met and married. That didn't last long as he was medically discharged during his second tour in Viet Nam. 

This is the day to honor the veterans for all they have sacrificed for our country. Whether or not I support the cause they fought for, I respect that they did what they thought was the right thing to do. On this day, I will be hoping that the Kellogg-Briand Pact is implemented some day and that there will be no further reason to honor veterans but rather to designate this day to celebrating peace.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's snowing, everyone!

Check out this view from my back deck. Snow!  So beautiful to look at and so nasty to deal with!  I'm very happy that I have nowhere I absolutely have to be today other than in my home.  There's not too much snow on the ground yet, but I expect we'll be getting more as the day continues.  The house across the street is an in-home day care and the kids were all bundled up in their snow suits this morning as they came running out of the house on their way to school!  Happy memories of my own kids doing the same thing.

My future DIL sent me an email asking for my son's sweet potato recipe so I sent it to her this morning.  I make it in a crock pot and it uses shredded sweets, coconuts, and pecans. I looked all over the internet for a picture I could post here and I can't find any exactly like the recipe I use so I got this one instead.  It's made the same way except here the sweets are cubed instead of shredded.  

Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes Recipe

I absolutely love this dish! I never had any luck with the marshmallow topped recipe that so many people make, and when I found this in a Better Homes and Gardens slow cooker book back in the mid-90's, my family loved it as well.  I've been making this dish for Thanksgiving ever since. In case you're interested, here's the recipe:

Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes (Double the ingredients and cook in a 5 or 6 qt crock pot)

2# sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup broken pecans, toasted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp coconut flavoring
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
Toasted coconut--optional

In a 3 1/2 qt crock pot, combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, margarine or butter, coconut, pecans, and cinnamon.  
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-4 hours. Stir in coconut and vanilla flavorings. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

In searching the internet for this recipe, I found several others that are similar but include adding raisins and/or chopped apple. I may add some of those the next time I make this.  

Today, I have assigned housecleaning to myself.  It's been rather hit and miss the past few weeks in the housework department what with the trip to Maine followed by the quilt tour, so today I will begin thorough cleaning, room by room. I already took the handheld vacuum to the sewing room and not only vacuumed out my sewing machine, but also got at the cobwebs that were "bugging" me in the window! How's that for a pun/? :p)

As soon as I've finished my chores, I'm in the sewing room for the rest of the day. Got to get the last border on the Sister's Choice!  I also have to pack up Tessa's Colors of the Sea quilt and get it to the post office today or tomorrow.  

Oh, I almost forgot!  My toes and feet are still ugly and unpampered since I chose to spend last night with mind-numbing games on the computer!  What a waste of time!  I admit it--I'm addicted to Scrabble!