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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I have been tagged!! I don't know who to tag though!

I got tagged by my friend, Beverly, yesterday and now I have to tell you seven weird things about myself. I am supposed to tag seven more people, but I think all of my friends have already been tagged. Thinking about seven things that are odd about me should be easy since all day long people say, "You are just so weird!!" But I am having a hard time thinking...

ONE: My car looks like a homeless person lives in it. I do not clean it and I just keep bringing more stuff into it with the idea that someday I will clean it out again!

TWO: I laugh when I make bubbles in the bathtub the "natural" way.

THREE: Paying bills is not my thing, so finally had to get the automatic withdrawal thing on my account so they pay themselves.

FOUR: I don't wear deodorant. (Usually, I don't stink though)

FIVE: I don't shave my legs from September through June

SIX: Mice terrify me

SEVEN: I love dark, rainy days and nights

Do you think I am weird, too?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ken Can Cook... And who exactly is that turtle on the road behind me?

A few weeks ago, I signed my husband up to help out at my church's annual spaghetti dinner. No biggie, right? Well, it wouldn't be except for two things:

1.He hates (that is not a strong enough word really) to cook!!

2. As a Catholic, he has serious issues with organized religion ever since the whole priest scandal began a while back. While my church is not Catholic, he still views most churches with skepticism.

So, we decided to ride in separate cars so that he could make a dash out of there as soon as he thought he was finished. Well, Mario Andretti decided to obey all vehicle and traffic laws on the way. Totally stop at all stop signs; obey posted speed limits and to help wayward turtles off of the dangerous roadways. I kept losing sight of him on the way and could not believe that he was driving like the turtles he is so fond of assisting.

Once, he did catch up to me and I waved at him from my truck. I think he waved back, but it was not a cordial wave of the hand...if you get my drift. Now, ten years ago, he would have NEVER attended this event,and I would have had to listen to him rant and rave about me trying to get him into the church in a backhanded kind of way. He would have acted like I was going to have him baptized against his will or something!! He was actually almost accepting of his forced duty, although he reminded me again and again NEVER to sign him up for anything ever again. (Maybe he will forget by next year, huh?)

Well, here he is cooking pasta!!
He even has an apron on!! WOW!!
After FOUR hours of cooking, everyone is done and ready to leave. He is still chatting about hunting and fishing with a friend. So, I actually ended up leaving before him!!

Except for a few "minor" incidents, this was a great night! So, here is what happened:

1. He cooked about 25 pounds of pasta.

2. He lost about 3 pounds from sweating.

3. He caught on fire (oh please...his friend was there to put out the flames on his arm hair!)

4. A rubber glove was "steamed" onto his flesh (again, his friend helped him remove it)

5. He lost all hair on his right arm from incident #3...

6. If it is possible, I love him even more for doing something against his will just to make me happy. (See ladies, don't give up if your man has certain things he claims he will never, ever, ever do! Sometimes, it is just a time issue...keep waiting)

Our kids were shocked that:

A. Their dad was going to the church

B. Their dad was going to COOK at church

C. Their dad was not home within 30 minutes

All was right with the world...Amen!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I don't really believe in funerals, but...

So, yesterday we had the funeral for Uncle George. He was a simple man and wanted none of the big ceremonious wakes, funeral, etc. So there was a 20 minute service at the church and then we went to the military cemetary for his burial. Going to the cemetary was very moving because all you can see for the longest time is rows and rows of white headstones with names, branch of military and birth and death dates. Realizing how many people served this country during all the wars is inspiring. Also, realizing that this is just one of many national cemetaries is enough to make you pause to think about just how many truly gave all. Of course, most of the dead there did not die in military service, but just thinking about how many had to face those tasks as young men and women is enough to make you stop and realize just how lucky we are to have those people.

So, I have no intention of having a funeral or wake when I go. It all seems so morbid and stressful for no reason. I understand the need for closure for the family, but it would make me happy to know that when I am gone, my friends and family might do something memorable on their own to honor my memory. For example, anyone who makes fried chicken and mac&cheese thinks of me when they do it now, so after I am gone, just imagine how close they will feel to me. Or, if they make a quilt or teach a class. There I am again! Raise a chicken? See a small farm? See, you just won't be able to get rid of me. I will be gone, so what is the point of "honoring" me at a sad ceremony that I really won't be attending:)? We should all just do it now and make memories that will withstand the years that follow a loss, instead of grieving it later. Uncle George left a million laughs and great stories behind. That will always be with us when we get together at holidays and remember old times.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Some projects almost done!!

A few of my friends at MJF are making these mini aprons for a Valentine's Day mini-apron swap. I am sort of behind on mine, so they are now cut out and I got some of them almost done. I thought the fabric was cute, and it reminded me of being a little kid getting those little candy hearts in the box that was see-through!
I finally got this tea towel for Halloween DONE!! It took so long because I kept forgetting about it. This year, I am going to work all year on fall things so that I have a bunch to put out at once. Usually, I work on a few things each season, but thought it would be wonderful to have matched sets of runners, towels, etc. for one holiday instead of a few for each one.
I got this quilt top ready for quilting now. This was another swap at MJF. When I put it together, I made sure it would fit my bed when it was done. Don't they all look cute together?

It's a rainy, dark day today with snow in the forecast for tonight. Meatloaf and baked potatoes are in the oven. Can't wait to get into a hot bath tonight since I started a new book PEACE LIKE A RIVER and it is so good!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Homemade dishcloths!

My SIL is a knitter, which I am not. I just mentioned how I loved the knitted dishcloths and when I arrived at her house Friday night, there was a whole set on my bed. The blue one is going to be one of 4 also, but she only made that one last night.

Eggstra large egg!!

This is a comparison of my chicken's eggs, both from young chicks (literally!! Ha!) The big one will inevitably have two yolks.

Goodbye Uncle George

While I was visiting my SIL this weekend, our dear Uncle George died in his sleep. I guess the prospect of nursing home living and having tubes assist him with eating, breathing, etc. was more than he could honestly bear. This is a man who lived independently until a week and a half ago. For as long as I have known him, he has always made it clear that he never wanted to go out as someone's dependent.
At Christmas (that is our Aunt Ellen with him above) he was missing his late wife and said how he could not wait to be with her again in Heaven, so even though we were not ready to see him go, it was time and he was able to do it "his way," which makes us happy for him.
We'll miss the stories, laughs and the annual Christmas puzzle (1000-2000 pieces) that he would give us as our present, but most of all, he was one of the last old-timers who kept us company and reminded us where we came from as a family. Thank you all for caring about us during this time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Off to visit my SIL and her husband!!

Tomorrow night after work, I am getting in my truck and driving to see my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who live in a gorgeous log cabin upstate. It's about 5 1/2 hours away, so I will listen to my radio and cds all the way.

It's always good to go there and relax for a few days. There are many quilt shops and things to do. Several of my friends ski there on weekends, so we might get together for a few hours and have lunch or tea.

Hope you have a great weekend too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Did you know that pheasants wear glasses?

This is a picture of the little tiny glasses that pheasants who are raised on a farm must wear. They are such the little cannibals and will tear each other apart if they are not "blinded" with these shades! They have sharp, hooked beaks and will pull on anything shiny, which is often their "privates." This results in their insides being yanked to their outsides and of course this means death to the poor victim. We used to raise them to release into the wild, but we did not know about this "habit" and each morning my poor children would wake up only to get traumatized by the sight of entrails as extrails! We have friends who raise them on a big farm now and they gave me a pair of the glasses to show my students. See what we learn from friends? Ha! Sorry if you are easily grossed-out!

A reversible apron!

I made this reversible work apron last week when I had a little free time. The red side is a toile and has a matching pocket. The blue side has contrasting pockets with pictures of chickens (surprise!!) on them. This apron will be for hanging laundry and doing chores around the house since it is long (past my knees) and has BIG pockets for holding stuff. The blue one's pocket is separated into 3 sections.
The apron is being displayed on a bush outside the side door (didn't want you all to think I had eaten too many cupcakes from my neighbor) and on my clothesline.
Uncle George was a little better yesterday. His tubes are out of his throat and he can talk a little. He swears he will try to make it to his 80th birthday in June, so we plan to hold him to it.
Thanks for your concern and prayers. It is so appreciated.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My churn dash quilt is cut and ready to piece

This square (above) will be the center of each churn dash block. The colors below will be the pieces around it. I will use different ones on each block to make it a little more colorful. The white fabric will be in each block too, though.

I am so excited to be making this quilt since it is a traditional design and I have always loved how it looks.

Well, we are either getting lots of snow or only a little tonight. Anywhere from 1 to 8 inches is expected depending on how the wind blows over the ocean. In a way, I do not want to miss school since we have the state tests on Tuesday and Wednesday and I hate to lose a day to get ready. These tests are a big deal around here and give me a ton of stress every year. My kids are trying harder than ever, but many of them have trouble with reading comprehension, so I am not sure what will happen on test day.

We got to see Uncle George on Friday night. They took him out of the coma they put him in and while he was plugged into so many machines, he was breathing on his own for the most part. He looked so sad and feeble the other night. It's hard to see that when you are used to someone who is very independent and lively otherwise. We're going to see him tomorrow after work, so hopefully he will be better.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pheasant for dinner tonight

Here is the sky right at dusk as we were finishing up our pheasant hunt today. It was a great day with temps in the 40s and a clear sky.

My son Rob, with two of his pheasants in the game pouch of his vest. This was our first time hunting together as a family this year. We have hunted together since he was a very little kid. He still likes it and it's always a day of memories and fun.

Tonight we are having the pheasant (breaded) with oven fried potatoes and string beans. We had the best time today between the weather and the good hunting conditions. Our one dog, Penny, was a little wired, but Millie did a great job as always. She is sleeping, and snoring, soundly on the couch next to me as I write this.

Hope your day included some outdoor time and a little fun with your family.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Do your kids do homework?

What a funny day it was today. I have this one kid who has parents who are definitely not strapped for cash, yet he comes to my class every day without a pen/pencil, sometimes no paper and most days no homework! Well, we were doing our journals and he was writing in CRAYON!! In 8th grade!! I almost lost it! Then he tried to claim that someone stole his homework. Wow. Anyway, his mom and I had quite a talk about this and how to break these habits. Yet, they take him out of school for trips and he has every video game, cell phone, ipod etc known to man. Then they make excuses for him and ask what I can do! I said, "Nothing! He can learn by failing at this point. Aside from doing his work for him and carrying his stuff for him, there is nothing I can do." When did parents stop being the boss of the kids? My parents would have killed us over this behavior and never made excuses for us. How about you?

I have two other teachers in the room with me during this kid's class and they almost died when he was feeding me this line of baloney about his homework. Since it has become a routine for him to not have work with him, when I got to his desk today and asked about his homework and he said he didn't have it because someone stole it, the entire class said, "Uh-oh!" at the same time when they saw my face. It was hard not to laugh in a way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My rows are ready!!

I made five rows of four blocks for this winter quilt. The blocks were part of a great swap we did over at MJF and I love them all. Of course, you can't see them all yet, this is just the preview. I am also working on that churn dash quilt using Kaffe Fassett (and some Amy Butler) fabrics. I did the cutting yesterday and will sew a little this weekend.
Our dear old Uncle George is in the hospital fighting for his life tonight. He is the perfect uncle to have. He's old enough to talk about his time in the war (WWII) and he has a zillion stories about his days on this earth. Our kids love him and look forward to holidays and dinners when we have to pick him up and bring him over. He always tells his son that he prefers to come to our house rather than anyone else's and that has been important to us all of these years. I'd like to have a few more years of his company, so I'll be saying my prayers tonight and tomorrow because if he lasts that long, his doctors said he has a good chance of recovery.
Speaking of prayer, I am on day 9 of my BIBLE reading. It is a nice way to end each day and I truly look forward to it. A few of the girls I work with have done it this way and say that it was a joy to spend that year reading the stories of the BIBLE and seeing how they connect to life today. It is not as confusing as I thought it would be, so I am sure I'll see it through.

Spaghetti squash is cool...

Excuse the terrible pictures! I am not a food stylist yet. I will try any and all squash and have a great thrill over the spaghetti squash. It looks like this when you cook it. Then you take a fork and shred it and it looks like the bottom picture. I use it instead of pasta many nights.
It sort of looks like a vomitous mass here, but it resembles spaghetti and tastes good with sauce and meatballs or cheese or butter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's sorta like Girl Scouts..for big kids!

For the past year and a half, I have been posting on the forums at MaryJanes Farm and have met the most amazing women who are actually trying to make the world a better place on a daily basis. So this year, it has become possible for us to have our own chapter (or group) as a computer group instead of having to have meetings in person. Our group is called Bees Without Borders because most of us are seamstresses who get our thrills with sewing and crafting. The without borders part is because most of us do not live near one another, yet we still "meet" regularly online to discuss projects, ideas and issues. Great for a person like me who works all of the time and has little time for a formal group.

The coolest part, in my immature opinion!, is that we get to earn badges for different activities and projects that we complete. Now, for me, this is the best thing of all because I never got to be in the Girl Scouts when I was a kid, even though I was desperate to join! Long, sad, really sappy story about that...but I am over it finally! (Ha, not really!)

So, the one badge is for my group and the other one is for the larger group at MaryJanes Farm. We get to embellish them any way we want and then put them on our denim jackets. How cool is that? I know people will look sideways at me and say, "Ok, whatever," but this is just another time that we get to feel young, involved and vital again. Not bad.

I did not do anything to my badges, yet, but when I do, I'll post them.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My husband's quilt and some friends...

I made this quilt for my husband a few years ago. It was supposed to be a lap quilt, but since numbers mean nothing to me until I see something in that size, it turned out to be a queen sized quilt. I had it professionally quilted so that it would be ready for Christmas that year. It's being aired out on the woodpile right now, that will make it smell nice for tonight.

Well, I guess Christmas is really over. We took the tree down today and put everything up in the attic for another year. It sure makes the house look bigger and cleaner, but not as cheerful.
Time for Valentine's Day decorations then! <3

The weather here is so weird today that it seems like spring will be coming in a few weeks. We are trying not to be fooled, because we are definitely in for at least a few snow storms and freezing temperatures. It sure has been gray most of the month though. I feel sorry for people who have winter depression since it's so dismal and dreary.

Homemade pizza for dinner tonight. I will make spaghetti and meatballs for tomorrow while I am making the pizza. That makes the first day back to work each week a little easier to manage.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Some projects to work on. New fabric (I broke my own promise not to buy anything new! :)

This is a tea towel that I wanted to have ready for Halloween, but I guess not! :) I work on it at night once in a while, so maybe by next Halloween, huh?
My husband, his cousin and I went to Connecticut to the gun show and we also went to a quilt shop in Ridgefield. What a great shop it was! So much cool fabric and the people were so helpful and friendly. We had lunch at a great tavern and then drove around before heading to Greenwich to the gun show. The show was awesome and pretty big. Many antique guns (for hunting, etc) and clothes for shooting and hunting with style!! :) I got these fabrics to work on my churn dash quilt. They are the Kaffe Fassett prints and I have never used them before, so thought, why not?
So, about that promise not to buy new fabrics until I use up most of my stash...How can I go to a new shop and not bring home souvenirs? That would just be wrong! A country girl has to support the economy too, doesn't she? Hey, now I will always remember our little trip whenever I work on and then snuggle under the new quilt. Yeah, I know...justifying again!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Need some eggs?

Here are the eggs I collected in the past 7 days! Even though it is cold here, the hens are now laying every day since they are young and just starting. Next winter they will not lay every day, but more like every other day. I am giving them to neighbors and friends at work tomorrow. I washed them all in hot water tonight and will put them in their cartons. People love fresh eggs and give me all manner of cool stuff in return, like:

Homemade soups
Fabric they won't be using
Cookies and bread
fresh deer or turkey from hunting trips
treats for my chickens (always appreciated)

I guess it is our version of friendly bartering. You never even ask for anything from them and there it is on my desk or doorstep one morning. It's a good way to do business, isn't it?

I participated in a quilt block swap over at MaryJane's Farm this fall and I got my blocks in the mail yesterday. Here are some of the fabrics I will use in the sashing and borders. We purposely chose winter and holiday themes rather than just Christmas so that we could keep the quilt out all winter. I'll post the top as soon as it is put together, which I hope will be this weekend. This one I will quilt right away too, so that my husband can use it on his couch.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Repurposed chenille!

I made these curtains for my bathroom using an old chenille bedspread I got a while ago. They are much nicer than they look here. We did the bathroom renovation a year ago, and I made the curtains to match the look of the room, which is sort of old fashioned, like the rest of the house, which was built in 1933.

More reproduction fabrics!! My favorite quilt!

This is the first quilt I made using reproduction fabrics. I just used all the ones I loved and did not care how well they fit together. I had just gotten my embroidery machine and practiced using it on this quilt. I tried every stitch and many different embroideries that I liked.
I raise chickens, so they are on virtually everything I make!! Sometimes I hide them in my work to make it fun to look for them. I think the whole thing came out cute. I use this one on my bed all year.
The pictures are not too great because I had to take them inside since I got home so late today. First day back to work and I got home around 7 p.m. I had forgotten that I signed up to chaperone a volleyball game today and they are very long.

Our girls played great, but lost their first game in like 3 years. What a heartbreaker! I am sure there were a great many tears on the rides home tonight.

So far, I am enjoying my daily BIBLE study (ha--I just realized it's only day 2!) It gives me something to think about all day. During the vacation, I was reading my books in the morning, but of course, now I have to do it at night.

I had McDonalds for dinner tonight, which I have not done in so long! It was not really that good, but I do like the fries. Better not get into that habit, not a good way to start a new year. When you are used to homemade food only, that fast food loses its taste, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Millie's tired!

Millie was tired from hunting this weekend and all of the post-holiday excitement. It was her birthday on December 27. She is nine years old.

Happy New Year & New Quilts!

The quilt on top is the one I made in class this past September. It was our trip to Japan! It was the easiest one so far and I did it in one night. My husband likes it a lot.

This is the quilt top I had to finish before my next mystery quilt class which is on January 10th or 11th. It looks a lot lighter than it really is. It is all shades of blue and I put the thin red border on to make it stand out. I put it together this weekend and did not read the directions! Not smart!! Anyway, I got it all together and realized that it did not look like the one we made in class. Well, of course I had to tear it all out and rearrange the blocks to make it right. Not that it looked terrible the other way, I just remember loving the way our teacher's top looked and wanted that.
We had a great day today. Went to the bookstore and got a few books recommended on the MJF reading thread. I have to finish HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS first and then I will move on.
Also, this year I have made a commitment to reading the BIBLE from beginning to end. I got a version put together by Charles Stanley, and it shows you how to do it each day. I always wanted to read it at least one time through, so maybe this is the year!