Dec 29, 2014

blogging break

I'm okay but just don't have much to share right now so taking a bit of a blogging break.  No sewing or knitting, a little embroidery and a lot of reading.  (Got to love that Kindle app.)  Watching the favorite Christmas movies again for the umpteenth time.

I appreciate the cards, calls and texts sent to me this holiday season though I was not much in the mood to reciprocate.  DJ was more the card sending guy even getting the birthday cards for MY parents and tell me to sign them.  Sounds like role reversal to me!  It is hard when he is not here to carry on those traditions.  Although I am trying not to,  I admit to having some weepy, feeling sorry for myself times.  I am thinking this is only natural and to be expected.

I'll leave you with a picture of rare peace.  I don't know who was there first,  probably Skyler as it is his spot, but they were in close proximity and getting along!  Might not happen again but sweet, huh?  See you in the New Year!

Dec 17, 2014

this and that

 Yesterday we had a fairly decent day up in the high 40's-low 50's and pleasant enough for Oscar to spend a bit of time in the backyard.  I got busy in the sewing room prepping the pieces for those zip zip bag kits from Connecting Threads.  I needed to use some 505 Spray and Fix so it was good that I could pop the sewing room window open till that job was completed.  The pattern also calls for something called "Soft and Stable" on some of the sections and fusible interfacing on others.  I'm using auto head liner instead as I heard it is an alternative for soft and stable, a discovery when I was looking at tablet cover patterns.   This should be sized correctly for one of my electronic toys which is why I want the bag(s),  The kit came with fabric for two of them in the turquoise and purple colorways.  Might use the turquoise one as a purse and purple for the purple tablet.  Prepping and planning is as far as the project got.  I had started binge watching a few episodes of "Gracepoint" on hulu while I was in the sewing room and then a few more later in the living room when Oscar came back in the house.  4 more to go at some point.

Today it is gloomy and damp, doubt we will hit 50's as it is barely in the 40's according to my thermometer.  Oscar is in for now anyway.  I looked out the corner o my eye to see him dragging his camo fleece blanket out of his crate and off to the living room to join his toy frog and his rawhide bone.
Skyler is napping on my bed and not tormenting Oscar which is probably how he likes it.

I tried to put the blanket back in his bed and he grabbed it away from me to roll on the floor.   He distracts easily enough so I got the job done.   I was baking some tortillas for taco salad later today and he followed me out to the kitchen hoping that meant a handout.  No dice!  He had decided to nap on the couch instead.

Sewing is not apt to happen today.  Sometimes I do head into the sewing room once he is in bed for the night.   I hope it does not sound like I resent that loss of sewing time.  Oscar has been a true blessing to me.  Not only has he gotten me out of the house and more physically active but there is nothing like unconditional love.   Dogs might be more needy but there are more loving than cats though Skyler just shows it in other ways.   All that walking and dietary changes (changes in cooking, lessened appetite, etc) and I've lost 32 needed pounds to date or back to where I was 5 years ago.  Oh I have a long ways to go but every little bit helps.

This time of year though I start thinking about where I want my creative efforts to be focused in the following year.  For all the reasons I have posted about in the past and present, I was the most slug like creatively.  Oh, I've done blog hops and some home dec stuff but zero donation quilt work.  I might have needed the break from it, true, but I have lots of things kitted up and fabric to be turned into something useful.  I miss that part of my sewing life!

What are you looking at??  12 pizza boxes of kitted up stuff and/or UFO's that I want to be gone.  Well, one of them is an on-going project and I'll swap it out for another boxed up thing in the sewing room closet.  Some are personal projects, some donation items.  This is what I wake up to every morning---and it annoys me.  12---one to address each month, I'm thinking.

Then we also have this stack of pinned quilts.  Two are my donation quilts from back in 2013.  One is Aline's.  One is a personal project---that Connecting Thread fun Fiesta print Brioche and Baguettes that deserves to be finished!!

True, this pile has often been much higher.  Sometimes it was quilts to be quilted and other times, donation quilts that were done and needed to be logged in or I had run out of shelf space in the closet.  Still.........this annoys me as well.

And this is my pile of tops.  Well, I do need to still prep Lily's Chevron quilt with a special label so it is waiting.  The one behind it is not completed and is part of the pizza box thing.  Two are embroidered quilt tops.  Just other stuff that is not as pressing but "some day".  I want the pizza box stuff to join this!!   At least it would be some forward progress.  The really big tops will need to go to a long armer anyway.

I spend a bit of time thinking about what I would like to sew if I had the time and nothing pressing that needed done----

  • Ursula purse from Creative Thimble.  I've got the fabric, pattern and materials on hand so why not?
  • Get back to working on my version of the Farmer's Wife Sampler  last seen in September 2012 with 30 of the needed 111 done.  I enjoy this and want to get back to working on it.  Not exclusively but I want to have some forward progress with what I consider my masterpiece work.
  • I sorta, kinda want to make a blue/white quilt of some sort for the master bedroom to go with the dust ruffle and curtains I have made.  Disappearing 4 patch or Split Decision variation I came up with possibly
  • Do something with that early challenge quilt for guild---the first letter of your first name.  It is all cut out and has been hanging in a tote on the sewing room closet door knob for months and months now!
There is probably more bouncing around in my head past the zip zip bags but those are things I think of most often.  I realize that there is always going to be something that is going to cause me to veer off track.  A new pattern or a new twist on doing an existing pattern.  Missouri Star has some neat videos that I am itching to explore.  Used to be, I would do that with a donation quilt idea.  "Been there, did that" and the quilt didn't need to stay at my house.  A picture would sufice.  Give in to the "squirrels" and "shiny objects" as that is what sparks creativity and makes my craft more fresh and exciting.

To that end---as much fun as it was to participate in blog hops, I think I am done.  It can get a little pricey both monetarily and time wise.  Something else I needed or wanted to do always got shunted to the side if I was in a time crunch.   We have two or three cold months to get through before I see having consistent sewing time unless I chose to haul a machine out to the kitchen.  I do NOT like doing that especially now that the room is set up exactly like I want it.  However, if I have to, I will.

That's my plans---stating them in public may help get them going in the right direction.  Hope so!  Critters and owner to feed, dog to away from the keyboard is calling.

Dec 14, 2014

Sunday check-in

And another week went flying by.  Another day of binge cooking, two Christmas gatherings to attend.  The Belles and I met for breakfast at Cracker Barrel on Tuesday. Yesterday was the quilt guild's final meeting for 2014 and potluck.  It was so cool to see the walls decorated with all the quilts, challenge quilts and crafty items as well as catch up with the group a bit.  Oh, the food was good too, LOL.

I've gotten zero sewing done this week and every day I thought I might be able to carve out some time.  Didn't happen but a little knitting did get done.  The critters and I log some couch time in the evenings so I need something to keep my hands busy.  Sometimes, it is just playing free cell.  I had to get one more ball of yarn to finish up the dishcloth that lacked 1 inch of completion.  Of course, I started another with what remained.  I think it will have to be the last one for awhile as I counted 8 in the towel stack plus I have three to work in the yarn ends.  12 total once this last one is completed.  I should be working on my embroidery!

This next week I don't have anything scheduled so depending on the weather, whether Oscar needs to be more in than out, I am hopeful that I can start on the zip zip bags that I've wanted to try for weeks now!  I half expect Donna to call one of thesedays to tell me she has that last Christmas top ready for me to quilt.

Since I don't have anything of my own to show, I'll share the quilts that were turned in by Bama Belles, a little quilt show.  I had to get my butt in gear and get them all logged into the 2014 quilt document as 15 quilts were given away this last week.  3 to some needs here in our community, and 13 to a home in Gadsden that serves wards of the state of Alabama.  I'm not sure yet where the remaining ones are headed but will work it out.  The girls prefer that the quilts stay in the area if possible though we are part of the larger group, Wrap Them in Love based in Washington State and have been since our group formed in early 2000.

This is Lois' challenge quilt finished.  I had given them a choice of fabrics to work with this time and she picked the M&M fabric which she used on the back BUT she matched the M&M colors in the rail fence blocks.

Earlier in the year we had explored the 4 patch stacked posie technique which produces a kaleidoscope effect with the four pieces in the block identical.  This sweet little quilt was made by Aline.  Lois has one also  below--watch for it.

"Fiddlesticks" from The Teacher's Pet is another one we played around with using some fabric donated by one of our members who was relocating to OH.  Aline chose to use some fabric in her stash for this quilt with a Southwest vibe.  Actually I barely got this one logged in; it was one of the 13 I pulled for the group home, thinking that one of the older kids might need a bigger quilt.

This is Lois' Log Cabin in the Straight Furrows set

Lois' Log Cabin Medallion set.  I didn't see the turned block till I took the picture. 

Lois' 4 patch posie simply sashed and cornerstoned with complimentary fabric.  Lovely!

An old favorite, Pineapple Blossom

This is a little something that was sent to me from a fellow blogger.  Barb had commented about something I had made for a blog hop a few months back.  I had decided I was done with the pattern and offered to pass it on to her if she wanted it.  She sent me the cute cup cozy.  I looked at the package thinking "who do I know in Oklahoma?" but it came to me BEFORE I hit the house after the trip across the lane to get the mail, LOL.

AND one last picture!  Lily is 5 months old now,  Each month Mama gets a picture of her on the blanket her Nana (my sister Diane) made for her and wearing the little tutu.  She is also stylin' in her seasonal hat.    She has also modeled a pumpkin hat and last month a a turkey one!  My sister usually watches her once a week so I kept supplied in adorable pictures of this precious one.

Guess that's it for this post.    Oscar has been patiently waiting for me to claim my part of the couch, LOL.

Dec 7, 2014

Critters and me

Poor babies!  This was the view yesterday afternoon.  Oscar was banished to the kitchen after he marked the loveseat one too manyn times and I had to bring in the big guns.  Skyler was just being the over-sight committee, I guess or trying to stay out of the way of the vaccum cleaner and the damp carpet.  I don't think Oscar would be in near as much trouble if I had not taken him or several walks already and he should have done his business outside.

I had accidentally bought cans of Resolve high traffic pet cleaner when I meant to get the spot cleaning stuff the other day.
( No readers on, it happens when you can't read the small print) I was glad that I had the product on hand to at least try to get the staining and smell out.  You have to vacuum first and then spray 3 foot square sections and scrub with a damp mop. Then let it dry and vacuum it again.   I moved the loveseat to the middle of the room and cleaned most of living room and all the hallway.  (That is where Skyler does pukers and why I need spot cleaner.)  I think it is better and I don't see any stains.  I had been considering calling in a professional carpet cleaner and getting a quote for doing the job but this was a cheap alternative.   The kitchen was also given a much needed sweep and mop while I was at it.

I've forgiven Oscar, of course.  Who can resist that imploring look I was getting?  Strangely, he has done much better today about letting me know he  needs to go out and we have walked about every two hours or so.  He and Skyler both have been rolling in one particular spot on the floor I suppose to mark it with their own scent but NO leg lifting was observed.

I had intended to get started on the zip zip bags today since I realized that I did not need to have the webbing or the handles till the very last step.  You know, something fun after all that strenous housework?  BUT I got side tracked.

A few days ago I had removed the foam pad I was trying on my bed.  It might have helped my back but the
pad had lumps and bumps that would not flatten out even after a month's time nor did it fully cover the mattress so parts of you felt like they were falling off the bed.  Not only that but I felt it was making me hot and itchy.  I have enough trouble sleeping without feeling like my legs are on fire! The pad was UNDER my mattress pad so would think it would be okay with the synthetics?  I'm now using a pillow top type deal and so far so good though it is not quite as firm.  The bothersome one was laying on the other bedroom floor but couldn't stay there.

I decided today that I would cut up the pad or at least the sections that were unrippled so I could replace the thin little pad in Oscar's crate.  I used multi-purpose spray adhesive to adhere two layers together.  I picked up some decorator weight yardage to make a pillow cover and another small fleece throw ($2.88) and a couple of 22 inch zippers to do the job.  The camo is just like the one he uses in his bed and he loves it.  Often he crawls up under and gets himself so wrapped up you wouldn't even know he was in there!

I did the cutting earlier when he was outside but didn't start sewing till I got him down for the night.  I used the sewing machine to put in the zippers but the serger to sew the other three sides on both the cover and the fleece cover.  I had to laugh when I turned around to grab the pinned after re-threading the serger needles.  Skyler had parked himself on it, pins and all.  I displaced him but laid out what was left of the fleece to sit on in the meantime.  He wasted no time in making himself at home on the new pad.  Think I'll be able to put it in place tomorrow and Skyler will crawl in the crate once Oscar is not around??

That is about the only creative thing I have done in days.  The days have gone quickly since I last posted but I am not exactly sure just how.  Living life, I guess.

Oscar is awake and whining.  Best go see what's the matter.

ED:  He needed out and told me.  Good boy!  I put his new pad in the bed and the skimpy one with the sheepskin cover I made earlier this year will be laundered and set aside for backup.

Dec 3, 2014

3rd post in one day

Whoa, 3rd post in one day after nothing since the 21st!  Well, I've been busy, as I often am, but I did have to get through that holiday.

(FYI, I can't find Margarita's BOM top but I am right in the middle of backing up my picture folder to thumb drive.  I can't look further till later.   I left that off post number 1.)

It helped that I had pies to bake and share for Thanksgiving.  I ended up spending all day in the kitchen since I cooked three meals ahead as well as preparing some of the ground meat for later use.  My neighbors were so sweet to invite me to join them for dinner as it got me out of the house, off the couch and kept me from getting too mopey (not entirely but mostly.  I had a little meltdown, I admit).  I had to leave before the others as I needed to walk Oscar and feed the critters.  Everyone had filled up with dinner and barely touched dessert at the point so I left the pies up there.  Well, I had successfully made Robert an Old Fashioned Chocolate Meringue Pie and he had set it back, just like his dad used to do. I told him that one was for him anyway, part of his holiday tradition.   By Friday when I went back up for the leftovers they were cutting into it so I tried a sliver.  Robert said it was pretty close to what his mom used to make while their son Nick said it was delicious.   Most of the Dutch Apple Pie I had made was gone and half the No Bake Pumpkin.  I put that all in the freezer.  Later Glynda brought me a plate of leftovers which I appreciated the next day.

I drug in all the Christmas boxes to purge out what I did not want to keep and decorate the house.  That big white box is gone as is the flat one in the front of the pile.  I did not get the Christmas tree  down from the shed rafters however.  I doubt I could trust either of the critters around it.  Skyler can't climb it necessarily without claws but he will not leave it alone or tries to climb under the tree skirt.  Oscar?  Don't know since we have not gone through that holiday together yet but it is a tree and he will pee on anything vertical.  I don't know if I could assemble it anyway since that was DJ's job and the instructions are long gone.

This morning Skyler managed to knock the inn keeper of the nativity set off the kitchen bookcase where I also set it up.  Decapitated him when he hit the deck.  I was eating my breakast French Toast with one hand while I held on the figurine like it was a hand grenade hoping the glue would set up, LOL.  When I had set it up, I had stuck down the sheep as those have gotten lost or knocked off by Skyler or his predecessor Pippi.  DJ would knock the angel off the creche on occasion too.   Everything but Mary and Joseph IN the creche got handi-tak'd!!

I quilted the bulk of Donna's #2 quilt on Sunday afternoon, all the horizontal "lines".  We are having mild weather mid 40's to almost 70 so he is out more than he would like lately.  I had completed the verticals one night after I got Oscar settled in.   I actually liked the serpentine stitch better when the crossing lines were done.   I hope she will like what I did with it.  There is one more top to quilt but the last I heard her sewing time was directed elsewhere and then pink one was not done yet.

I've also had the guild newsletter to do up along with a several flash emails requests.  The Christmas party for Friendship Quilters is coming up in 10 days.  There was other paperwork to do on the homefront as well.

The only sewing I got done was working on the kitchenchair pads for Glynda.  I wanted her to have them by Thanksgiving when guests were coming.  My first plan absolutely did not work.  We brainstormed a bit and I said I would try it on one of the smaller pads and see what I came up with.  The 2nd one worked out better but I tweaked it by the 3rd attempt by pinning the fabric around the cushion snugly and marking where the stitching should go and halving the back to accomodate the double thickness of padding.   I had to set up in the kitchen to sew so I could keep an eye on Oscar but also had to set up the serger to control all the ravel-y threads.  Oh did I tell you that I cut up Oscar's dog hammock to make them???  Yep, he was crawling under it and what good did that do.  I also had spare yardage that the gal at Downing's just gave for the end of the roll.  It went to good use and all 6 chairs are freshly padded.  I managed to squeeze out one smaller cover, should Robert still need an extra pillow on his chair but tossed all the scraps and miscuts.  I'll still be spotting that green fabric in threads on the floor and carpet for months, I swear.  Just like Christmas tree needles.

I had planned on finally getting to that zip zip bag kits as a reward type project but decided that I DO want black cotton webbing, not the letover poly dark gray that I had left from the hammock project.  It is ordered.   Frankly, I was busy in the kitchen again yesterday and the window to sew anything closed.  I had also planned on cleaning house today----well, thinking about it us as far as it got.   Let's just say that it and the laundry are pending.  Probably a grocery store run too since the list is growing when lots of time is spent in the kitchen.

Tomorrow I am invited out to lunch with some friends at a more upscale area restaurant so I don't know that my "uniform" of t-shirt and jeans will be appropriate.  I may need more time to dress up a bit, LOL.   We decided to go out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel for our Belles Christmas get-together, keep it simple and still have most of the day free after.

Here are my two boys on a recent evening.  It was too warm for me to wear my housecoat so Oscar took that as an open invitation to climb on.  His spot is on the other end of the couch on Skyler's old fleece pad.  My robe fabric is a bit like his camo throw that he sleeps with so that might explain it.  Looks like they are getting better about being in close proximity??

He's barking and we should go walk one more time before I bring him in for the evening. The sun is creeping lower in the tree line and so many of the trees are bare now.  Not all of them in the neighborhood but the really big oak at the neighbors almost looked like it was raining leaves when we were out earlier today.  It's December so it is time.

Guess that's it--------we all caught up now?

ED.  Okay I found Margarita's Patience Corner top.  This is her first quilt!  She is primarily a knitter and a master one at that but we are proud that she is branching out!

Sorry I couldn't locate it earlier.

Belles recent meeting

 The Bama Belles met on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and had a dialed back version of a potluck lunch.  Some quilts were pinned but all in all, it was a fairly laid back meeting.  Some of the girls were working on binding, I was embroiderying which amazingly for me, I have not done in months!

Here are a few of the quilts that Lois turned in.

Louisiana block from Eleanor Burns' Pioneer Sampler

Scrappy Bowtie arranged as X blocks forming snowballs where the blocks meet

This is a Lemoyne Star made using the Deb Tucker Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler.  Pretty neat technique if you have seen  her video on the subject using the self designed ruler.    Actually Marilyn who is the president of the JOY Quilt Guild asked Lois if she would do a demo on the ruler at one of their upcoming meetings.  I gave her the quilt back thinking she would need something to show along with the demo.  You use strip sets for this!

Valera came by to show us some of the tops/quilts she had completed.  They were heading out of state for Thanksgiving but she and I had talked about top ideas that allow here to keep the black and white camera fabrics intact.  I forget now what the original idea was but she did use Prairie Windows/Criss Cross for it.  It is going to be one of her grandkid's quilt.

.........and more camera fabric on the back

Bug Jar pattern but these jars were filled with sweets and one jar of pickles, LOL.  This was also for one of the grands.  She planned on working on the binding on that long trip to OH and back.

.................and ice cream cone fabric for the back.

Ashville show pics

In mid November several of the quilting pals and I went over to Ashville Quilt shop so the girls could register for the 2015 Block of the Month. We also were there to view the tops the two groups of this year's participants had finished up. They had spread them out over the tables in the Fellowship Hall near the shop. That doesn't necessarily make for decent pictures since the foreground is huge, the angles all off. Still, it was fun to see the tops in person and get away for a "Girlfriend Day". I even ran into a friend that lives on the GA side of the state line at the shop! I don't know if Debora had been this way to see her daughter in the Birmingham area or other family as she is originally FROM Calhoun County, where I live.

Anyway, the format was that they all were given fabric each month which was a variety of very similar 30's reproduction type prints, a closely packed design. They could pick whatever pattern they wished to use rather than be locked into what the shop had chosen.   I love 30's prints but working in one fabric line is not easy for ME to do, Normally that means little variety with just a diference in colorway but they did not seem to have trouble.  I know some of the ladies had to have supplemented what they were given to squeeze this big of a top.  

Okay, I'll hush up and just point out two that I know belong to some friends or if I know the design/designer!

These look a lot like Darcy Ashton's Claire's Cats--there are two books. I have some downloaded from the net some time back so that might be why I think I have some of the patterns, LOL

This one is pretty neat and makes the pinwheels so much more interesting, IMHO

The sashing gives this one a neat focus away from the simple Single Irish Chain

This one is quite striking!

This one as well---Chaining Blocks with Alternating Stars and not easily pieced ones either!

Classic!  Arkansas Snowflake is one name for this

This is Lois' quilt.  A friend of her daughter has laid claim to it and it was pinned at the last meeting.  I like the block pattern and love the embroidered kitty at center.

Cute owls

This one seemed to be telling a story

This one (I think) is variations of either Disappearing Hour Glass or Pinwheel.  I would have to check the Missour Star Quilt Company you tube videos.  They are some blocks I would like to try!

This belongs to my friend Ada.  The block at center is a Card trick block and then she copied decks of cards and applied the image to cloth.  Clever girl!

Well done Sampler

 Same here

Interesting 9 patch variations

this might have  been a first quilt?  Can't remember now

I am fairly sure that most of these blocks are from the Eleanor Burns/Quilt in a Day Egg Money Quilts

It does not look like they let me upload all the pictures or else I forgot Margarita's so looks like another post will be coming.

Nov 21, 2014

where did the last two weeks go?

I knew it had been awhile since I updated my blog but I've been off doing who knows what for two weeks??  No wonder I got a concerned email from a friend yesterday who thought perhaps I was having a hard time with the holiday season approaching.  She may be partially correct as this is the year of firsts without DJ at my side.  So far I am hanging in there, with a few exceptions, but then we are about a week away from Thanksgiving yet.

I have gotten little sewing done.  We had some really frigid (for us) weather lately and when it did warm up with had a ton of rain.  Like 4 inches in a 12 hour period kind of rain.  Those overnight temps in the high teens and low 20's and daytime highs about 20-30 degrees below normal.  And cut right through you winds.  Like Illinois!  Anyway, Oscar has been in more then out lately.  Of course he loves that!  It just means that I cannot go to the sewing room and get anything done as he whines if I don't come back right away and I have to keep an eye on him.  He WILL pee in the house and not necessarily in the kitchen.  I try to circumvent that by taking him out to walk about every two hrs or making him go out in the backyard for a bit.  I'm told dachshunds are notorious for peeing anyway and he is 10 years old too.  I send him out at night and I see him do is bark, bark, bark at who knows what?  Right now he is curled up in my spot on the couch and on my bathrobe.  Skyler is on the back of the couch curled up on that Friendship quilt that my friend V assembled and quilted for me.  They take turns curling up next to me, most evenings with that quilt on my lap.  I enjoy them but it means reading, knitting--anything but work in my sewing room.

I DID drag one machine out to the kitchen and did some cutting from the sub-cut sections of fabric for those chair pads.  I had done that at the last Belles meeting.  I started sewing on the over sized one for Robert's kitchen chair and it looked horrid!  I told Glynda she might want to see how it was looking before I went any further with it.  I had only cut two of the 6 out at that point. We left it that I would try another idea on one of the smaller pads and then decide if it would be okay.  I had done some streamlining and the 2nd one doesn't look too bad but I need to put some Velcro on it for closure and possibly take a little tighter seam in a few spots.  Those chair pads are on my weekend list.  The serger is also set up as this fabric ravels like crazy.   There are green threads all over the house but there is no point in cleaning any of it up till that task is completed.  I have a feeling that they are going to be like Christmas tree needles and keep showing up for months and months after, LOL.

 I had also done a few lines on Donna's 2nd quilt.  Well, I said lines but was trying a serpentine stitch with some purple variegated thread.   Every time I tried to get near the machine Skyler was stuck like glue to me.  I get Oscar squared away either outside or after he goes in his crate for the night, and then Skyler wants my attention.  It is NOT my quilt so I don't want him sitting on it.  I try to get him to move or set him down and he hops right back up.  And then he gets upset and bites and/or batts at me with his paw.  I finally put him out, closed the door and did those few rows of stitching.  Will probably have to that again next time.  He and Oscar both seem to jockey for attention, though dogs are more needy than cats, I find.

Last week was busy because I had outside meetings and such; this week started a bit like that too.   I finally got to the Social Security office to see about drawing my own SS or his.  I made it through the interview without crying until I thanked the woman who had helped me.  I got up to the Revenue Commissioner's office too.  DJ being over 65 we were eligible for tax exemption on the house but we had to take our income tax forms in from  2013, for example,  plus complete a few questions on their mailing and sign it in their presence.  His being gone left me wondering just how to check off "are you or spouse over 65?"  At least this time I did not draw that horrid public servant we got last year that I was ready to write to the commissioner about.  Needlessly rude and unhelpful.   This time I drew a woman who I used to see on the walking trail or park all the time so we did a bit of chatting about that.   Turns out, I needed to provide them with a copy of the death certificate and since I was going to be back downtown the next day for my appointment, they allowed me bring it then rather than about 20 miles round trip to go home and get it.  I should have thought of all that.  I had all that pulled, and more, for SSA.  So a few concerns are clearer now.

On the 15th the quilting pals who had done the Block of the Month at Ashville House this past year had a little quilt show with their completed tops.  They spread them out on tables at the Baptist Church near their shop for several hours.  This was in conjunction with the shop's 5th year anniversary as well.  The girls all needed to sign up for next years BOM and pay the 10 bucks.  I think this next is a more conventional format while I liked how they did things this year.  They gave the fabric but they all picked whatever pattern they wanted to do which made for all kinds of different tops.  I've got some pictures but will post them later.  I don't want to turn on the desktop to upload them to the computer etc.

I have been invited down to then neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner.  Plans have changed a bit in that I am to make pies now.  I'm thinking my classic no bake pumpkin pie that I have made for years and Dutch Apple Pie that DJ really liked.   Robert was telling me about his mom always making chocolate pies--one for his dad and one or his youngest sister and one to pass.  I said I wouldn't do pecan pie as I really don't like that--too cloyingly sweet.  It might be that I didn't like my previous attempts at making them, maybe with a different recipe it would be better.  Another guest can bring theirs, LOL.

(I shared some of this on Facebook today so if you follow me there it will be a bit of a repeat.  Read if you want some more background).

What I don't do is normally make crust as the store does a better job than me, generally.  Today, I thought I might try to remedy my fear of making crusts and try one of those chocolate meringue pies and take it down to the neighbors.  I  spotted a couple recipes in a cookbook but it is amazing to me what is assumed that one knows about cooking/baking when you look at how sketchy the instructions are!  I read up in three of my "expert" books last night---Schmidt's Master Recipes, Bittman's How to Cook Everything and Anderson's The Perfect Recipe.   Very detailed instructions in Schmidt's book--like 10 pages covering every aspect of pastry making.  I used Bittman's recipe for the filling and meringue though as it was less fussy.  The crust had a lot of steps, chilling times, following the instructions for a fully baked shell etc.  I followed the recipes and each step meticulously.   All day long deal almost.

So how did it turn out?  The filling tastes good but I wonder if is ever going to set up.  The unbaked leftovers are in a custard cup in the fridge and it still looks pudding like, not cut with a knife-able.  I took the pie down to them just before it got dark as it could cool there.   Don't know if the crust recipe was a keeper or not.  Knowing what I just said about the pie you might wonder how I could take them something that may not have turned out so well.   When I was talking with Glynda about the chair cushions, I told her I was going to make them a chocolate pie and practice up for next week, so to speak, with scratch pie crust.   About time I learned to do this better.

 Unfortunately, just as Oscar and I were climbing the few steps up the stairs I must have shifted the pie plate, the meringue cracked and I had a sweater dripping with chocolate filling!!  Worse yet,  when Glynda turned on the porch light I saw that it was also running down my jeans leg.  Amazingly, Oscar did not start licking my clothes with his great sense of smell.   I caught him licking my shoe but removed that temptation-- pronto.   I was pulling off my outer clothes as soon as I got us back in the house and right into the washer!  Glynda did say tonight that she was getting her MIL's recipe for her pie this weekend (and maybe that chocolate cake she told me about the other day) so I may be able to try it again but with store bought crusts!!  I won't have time to practice, come the big day.

This was actually day two of major cooking as I was in the kitchen a big chunk of the day cooking several different entrees and sides.   The dishwasher has gotten quite a workout, let me tell you. When I wasn't cooking the last two days, I was off to the store replenishing the pantry. Between what is in the freezer and stocking up on what I consider staples I can make just about anything (minus some meat).   Well providing I feel like cooking in the first place.  I've already said how much easier it is to just throw a sandwich together.  Not exactly a balanced diet with any variety to it---- and I am trying to do better.  Hopefully, I am good until mid week when I need to get the apples for the pie.  We are having a low key potluck at Belles next week and I could go in a couple different directions for my dessert type dish and won't have to decide till Monday.

I'm tired and can't think if anything else is going on around here.  I just know that I keep busy doing something most of the time.  The next thing I know, it is time or about time to go to bed.    One day whizzes by and then another.  Next thing you know, 2 weeks have passed.   How my life is going these days--------

Nov 6, 2014

Checking In

I honestly do not know just where the last two weeks have gone.  It sure was not doing anything much of a creative bent though I did finally get Donna's lap quilt for one of her nieces quilted once I did a bit of marking.

 I've been knitting a bit--more dish cloths.  It is a good project for when you have to sit and wait which I had to do on Tuesday while they changed my oil, and then the brake pads too.  One, maybe two rear tires I was mentally prepared for as one has had a slow leak for several months now but that just turned out to be a small nail embedded in the tire and they patched it.   (I am still waiting for the GMC people to call back about the recall on the G6.  Apparently there about 300 people on the list, waiting for the parts to come in, the staff said.)    Half a dish cloth was done by the time I left.  I got a few more skeins as I have a lab appointment coming up as well as the 6 month checkup a week later.   Unless they have done something to streamline the lab process better than they have in the past, you can count on a couple hours right there.  I can wait a little more patiently if I have something to occupy myself.

I have read a good bit on the kindle app.  Nothing world shaking, just light reading, mysteries mostly.  I read the books I cared to read on Jane's Kindle finally and returned hers so I am back to using the kindle app on my tablet.

I have played entirely too much free cell on netsolitaire.  I admit it.  But I also spent one full day recently in the office clearing up the paper stuff on my desk, lining up the to-do things, organizing receipts, balancing the checking account and so forth.

I finally gave in and called the plumber to fix the toilet shortly after I most in late October.  Been a pricey two weeks what with the brakes on the car too.  But necessary.  If anything else breaks or quits running, I am apt to be in tears.  How in the world did  he keep things running around here?  Why didn't I pay closer attention to how to fix them?

I binged cooked yesterday and again this morning because the weather had finally cooled enough to not object to having the oven turned on.  It is so hard for me to want to cook without DJ here to enjoy a meal with me.  Mostly it is "why bother" when a sandwich or some convenience meal in the toaster oven is done quickly, with little fuss?  Well here is why I should bother--- I am getting tired of sandwiches and I hate most convenience food . Maybe I had better make my own version of it. This way I can clear out a bit of stuff in the freezer just to add more back into it, LOL.

  •  Shrimp Creole and Mama's Cornbread along with two batches of rice in the steamer as I took half the recipe down to the neighbor's.  
  • Then I made a version of Shepherd's Pie with some leftovers from the freezer and set those up in three serving portions with half the ground beef.  The other half I turned into Maid Rite loose meat for a few sandwiches down the line. That is not the version of the recipe I use.  Actually I don't use a recipe really.   
  • I roasted a couple of sweet potatoes and then made a whipped up casserole version, not sure what it is called really along with Pilgrim's Pride Turkey Loaf from one of those "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger and Other Ground Meats". It was a good thing I was not trying to serve this to anybody else as the loaf fell all apart when I tried to get it out of the pan.  Some remained in chunks and part of it looks more like loose meat!  I already have some homemade cranberry relish up in the freezer so just need to add a veggie.  
  • I also tried a new to me recipe from Taste of Home for Butterscotch Pumpkin Mousse submitted by a cook from my area as it turns out.  It would make a nice parfait.
  • I've got a ham steak slice to grill later in the week so I made some hashbrown casserole supposedly like Cracker Barrel's.  I don't think so as there is wayyyyy too much sour cream in there.  I think theirs taste more like chicken broth than sour cream.   But there are three serving size dishes for me to use up now and the bag of hash browns has been used up.
This morning---
  • my version of Pimento Cheese spread but wayyyyyy less cream cheese and mayo, etc.  Hot sauce instead of jalapenos and a few other minor tweaks.
  • Pumpkin Muffins for the freezer with some of the leftover pumpkin from that dessert plus another can for the muffins with some added walnuts and dried cranberries though.  
  • Then finally breakfast/brunch  sausage and potato frittata--no recipe there either.  Like Maid Rites, I make this often enough that I don't need one.
Now I am running the dishwasher for the like the 4th time in 3 days.  I think you can see why, LOL.

Glynda asked me yesterday if I would consider helping her with a chair pad cover project.  She has a sewing machine but does not really like to sew and thought maybe I would be interested.  We consulted to a bit .  She has the foam padding to use and in fact, I have a couple of the ones she cut here on the sewing room table.  I offered the dog hammock fabric since I gave up on that thing and have the rest of the bolt the gal gave me for free.  The green will go with her kitchen and I need to do 6 of them.  I don't have to do piping or ties which is a bonus but they do have to be curved a bit at the corners.  I think I know how to proceed with this though I really didn't find a tutorial for what I was considering exactly.   I may make a mock up one first just to see if it is possible before getting too carried away cutting.

I have other stuff I could be doing but what's another week or so?  When it was so cold and blustery for about 4 days recently Oscar was spending more time inside and that translates to me not getting anything done in the back of the house--sewing room or office.  So we toss his toy whatever animal it is around  "Pinkie" and he cuddles up next to me on the couch.   Not a bad thing, right?

I had accidentally dropped the Quaker Oats container as I emptied that last little bit into the new container.  Oscar ran off with it--first to his bed and then to the couch.  Silly pupper!

Since it has turned colder at night, Skyler has been my bed mate.  I turn over and he often will go to the other side where I am facing.  Now if I can just get him to quit licking and he is in the laundry basket last week.  I wish I had had the camera when he was crawling around on the entertainment center the other night in that sort of open spot where DJ's model car replica of a Crown Vic sits.  You can see what I am talking about from a previous post  HERE  just scroll down to the last pictures.

If you want to see some quilt pictures I do have a few, just none that I have made.  Well scratch that---one project I did participate in!  Tell you more about that one in a minute.

First these are ones that Lois turned in and one that we were preparing to pin at Belles recently.

Double 4 patch

Scrappy Diagonal Strips

4 Patch ZigZag
that may not be the correct name--from past Quilter's World

From a Bargello class at JOY Quilters Guild.  Looks like a Billie Lauder version

My mom has been quite busy the past two years and more making full sized quilts for each of the grandkids.  We have 11 and there is a foster daughter too. The 4 oldest grands got their quilts as wedding presents.  This is the last one and it is going to one of my twin nieces, my youngest brother's youngest kids.  Well, they just turned 15 so "kids" doesn't really fit so much anymore but you know what I mean.  The pattern is "Country Cousins" from Judy Martin's Scrap Quilts book.  Mom and I had made this block for the Hands All Around Quilt Guild (central Illinois) monthly block raffle back in 92 or 3.  I won a stack of them and made more.  SO last year when Mom was looking at doing a red quilt for Elizabeth the pattern and blocks came up.  I said she could HAVE the blocks and jump start the project a bit.  Obviously I was going to do anything with them and I mailed them to her once I returned home from my visit.

She liked the more scrappy look as shown in the book and pulled the blocks apart so each of the 4 sections of the block would be different fabrics.  The block might not be what you think it is as when the blocks are joined you see stars or even a version of square in a square but there is a light and dark side.  I drew one up in EQ so you could see it up closer.  It is like a variation of a block called Four Knaves  Brackman #1197  Nancy Cabot 1938 except for the coloration of light and darks.  Martin likened it to a traditional Fox and Geese block (but no center sashing) but said the quilt setting and coloring more strongly resemble Birds in the Air (but less small half square triangles)

And just because she is so darned cute and just about 4 months old now, here is one of the recent pictures her Nana sent me.   Diane keeps me well supplied with Lily pictures and I love it!

Well enough of this pecking at the keys.  It is a decent day weather-wise.  Oscar and I need to go walk, a little "Mama" face time.  Not sure that I will get any cutting done on those chair pads today or not and there is a bit of paperwork I need to tend to anyway.