Saturday, December 31, 2011

Changes

There is nothing like New Year’s Eve. A time to reflect and a time to move on.

With the New Year just around the corner, I’ve decided it’s time for a few changes. For one, I’ll be more adventurous. Being complacent is one thing, but not living life due to fear or looking foolish is, well, silly. For that reason alone, and after talking to my sister-in-law who said I should definitely do it, I’m going to devote one blog a week to be a video blog. I have no idea how this will work or even what day of the week I should post it on, but I’m sure after a few trial and errors I will be able to figure out the kinks.

Speaking of kinks, the Jägerbombs I had last night with a bunch of my husband’s old classmates still feel like they are working their way through my system. It’s going to be an interesting day at work.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Something I Need

With Christmas just barely behind us, it’s time for what we really need. I really need a quilting hoop.

Okay, so perhaps there are NEEDs and WANTs and a quilt hoop would probably fall more into the WANT category. However, after trying yesterday during my lunch to make an old embroidery hoop pretend to be a quilt hoop, I’ve come to the conclusion that it most definitely should be in the NEED category. Embroidery hoops are generally rather thin and flimsy and this one I’ve had for more years than I can remember, or even recollect why I bought an eighteen inch embroidery hoop in the first place, and this one I’m curious how it hasn’t fallen apart since it is obviously a product of the early nineties. Let’s just say trying to use this thing with a seventy by ninety inch quilt was laughable at best.

And so it appears I will be needing to make a trip to the local quilt shop next week to try on some quilt hoops for size. Hopefully I will find one that works well. I don’t need anything fancy, just one that will not bend and bow as I’m trying to quilt. And preferably wood over plastic.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fall Quilt Sandwiched

Measuring is a good thing. But what if your measurements are exactly what you measured and they are still off?

After going through the steps I took to get the measurements I originally used, I figured out my mistake of making the top’s side borders twice the size the book, Material Obsessions, called for. Figures. Something simple I forgot to take into consideration when piecing the back. A quick fix was to simply add a few more inches to the sides of the backing, so that is what I did. I could’ve gone a couple different routes by either finding a completely different binding or only adding the extra backing to one side, but in the end I decided I really wanted the Sandy’s Solids Walnut for the border and binding.

Once the backing was properly sized, I taped it to the kitchen floor using painters tape, smoothing and adjusting as needed. I then put the batting, Warm and Natural one-hundred percent cotton, over that repeating the process of smoothing before topping it with the quilt top. After I got it right where I wanted it, I again taped it down to keep it in place. With safety pins, I basted the quilt in the center of each block and where each of the blocks meet to keep everything in place when I begin quilting it.



There is just one problem, which is I need to embroider my name and date onto the back first. Do I date it for 2011 since that is the year I finished the piecing, or go ahead and put 2012 since that is when I’ll be finished with the actual hand quilting of the project?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fresh Fabric Treats

One of the things on my Christmas wish list was Fresh Fabric Treats. I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.


I’ve been eyeing this book since I first heard it was coming out last spring. Fresh Fabric Treats combines the great tutorials from Moda Bake Shop with the professional look of a quilt book and the shortcuts people like you and me discover from trial and error. It doesn’t hurt that there are fantastic projects waiting inside its covers. Personally, I’m looking forward to making the Block Holder Books. I may have to add a few more flannel pages to hold more blocks, but the idea behind it is fantastic and a great way to keep your blocks not only all in one place but prevent them from getting distorted.

Of course, the main reason I wanted this book so badly was because of the featured quilt on the cover, Summer Sorbet Quilt. It hasn’t at all helped my obsession with finding just the right stars to use for my Christmas Quilt that has been in the find-me-a-pattern-and-make-me-already pile for way too long. However, now that I’ve seen it in the Fandango line, and I just happen to have a couple charm packs of those laying around, my mind is wandering to what that would look like if I changed up the accompanying nine patches, another of my favorites that will be utilized in my That 70s Quilt full of a random assortment of Alexander Henry’s In the Kitchen line and coordinating solids.

Alas, my brain is so full of ideas it’s about to burst! Perhaps I should instead focus on figuring out the dilemma of how my fuzzy math got in the way for The Fall Quilt before attempting to start yet another project. Stupid math. Besides, six unfinished projects is enough, right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cruise Control

There are those in the ‘FOR’ cruise control category and those in the ‘AGAINST’. I’m definitely in the latter.

I don’t know why people, mainly my husband, are so adamant I use cruise control while driving. Yes, I know it saves (a miniscule amount of) gas. Yes, I know it makes for a smoother ride. Yes, I know the reasons why I don’t use it, too. For one, I’m a control freak. I can almost hear the audible gasp from the reading audience. (Please note, that was sarcasm.) I always have been. I don’t necessarily need to control the outcome of a situation but if I’m in charge, I need to be in control of what is going on. I also have a tendency to butt in while other people are working on something like, say, dinner.

Anyway, so to get back to the issue of cruise control, I don’t like it because I’m not in control. Yes, my hands are still on the steering wheel, but my feet aren’t controlling the gas pedal and that scares me. This isn’t to say that I’ve never used it, because I have. I didn’t care for it, nor the fact that my mind wandered away from driving while doing so. Not such a great thing to do, you know, while going seventy miles per hour.

I suppose I could equate cruise control to our coffee argument. While I am affirmatively in the most definitely ‘FOR’ category, my husband is certainly and without a doubt in the ‘AGAINST’ column. Perhaps I’ll bring this up next time he wants me to just use the damn cruise control. Or that he can drive if he wants it used.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Importance of Measuring

I’m a baker and a cook and I don’t usually measure very accurately while doing so. Apparently those mad skills I possess in the kitchen do not translate into quilting.

While showing the family my quilt top I just finished for The Fall Quilt, I decided to go ahead and pull out the backing too. It looked a little small, but I figured it was just an optical illusion. However, the question quelled my mind until I made certain that was indeed the case. It wasn’t. The backing is about six inches smaller all around than I wanted it to be. Damn.

And so now I have a few options. For one, I could rip the stitches around the entire thing and add more of the inside and border fabric, but that honestly sounds like too much work. Secondly I could add more of the border fabric only and have a couple seems around the edges. Or third, use a different fabric for the binding than I had originally had in mind. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

When I was little, I couldn’t wait for whatever Santa was going to bring me, be it a new bike or a bag of used toys. That magic of Christmas morning is still alive and well.

As I crawled out of bed this morning, I could hear the delightful giggles of my husband’s sister as she not-so-quietly scouted out what Santa had brought her. Dumping out her stocking she seemed just as ecstatic about the socks she’d been given as she was when she saw the new Painted Pony in front of the fireplace. Okay, so maybe not as excited, since she is absolutely in love with Painted Ponys.

I know this morning will be filled with hectic egg poaching (I’ve never poached eggs, so this should be an exciting adventure in and of itself) and hollandaise sauce making and this afternoon with whatever my husband’s dad and stepmom have in store for us, but in the end, the trip always seems worth it. Even if this year we have to vie for the attention of both his parents. Alas, it means I will not be able to visit my family for Christmas. But I have to say that it is nice to be away from home for the holidays. I just hope our cats haven’t terrorized our house sitter!

Merry Christmas, everyone! May Peace and Love fill this holiday season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Morn

Waking to darkness
Listening to quiet
Tiptoeing in silence
Making a cup of coffee 
  with the Keurig Coffee Maker in the guest bathroom.

Watching horizons brighten
Waiting for signs of life
Enjoying the calm
Hearing a burp 
  followed closely by an, “Excuse me.”

A device tossed
Onto the table
The light is on
Handheld solitaire 
  with a high score of 575. Nice, Greta.

Sky getting lighter
Sounds getting louder
Calm fading quickly
Craziness begins 
  but how sweet the sounds, sights and soon, smells.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fall Quilt: Backing Complete

Instead of packing I decided to quilt. Go figure. This morning is going to be a mad rush!

Last night I decided I really wanted to finish the border and backing for The Fall Quilt in order to bring it with me on our vacation. I’m not really sure why I was so motivated, but I designed, measured and cut a backing that was pleasing to my eyes and sewed the whole thing up in a couple hours. Of course, those couple hours started at ten last night. All in all I’m happy with the results, utilizing all of the scrap ends from the Mix & Mingle jelly roll and deciding to use Sandy’s Solids Walnut for the outside border and binding for the back, as well as some muslin and a filler print I got for a dollar a yard back in 2006. I wanted the back to hold interest too, but at the same time tie into the theme of the front and I think I accomplished that. Hopefully I’ll have some down time this coming week (though sincerely doubt it) to start hand quilting! I’ve never attempted hand quilting a full-sized project and this being a 60 by 90 inch quilt should prove interesting.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookies!

Bake-a-thon may have been an exaggeration. Decorate-a-thon however… nope, still an exaggeration.

Yesterday we made cookies. Lots of cookies. Or so it seemed. After all was said and done it seemed like we’d hardly made even twelve dozen cookies. With only three varieties on the docket for the day, two of which needed to be decorated, it was bound to be an exciting adventure. Assuming, of course, exciting adventures include frosting on every surface the children came in contact with, flour “snow flurries” and Star Wars.



 I will have to say, we adults were all in agreement that next year we were definitely going to be doing our portion of the decorating using pastry bags because once we transferred the remaining frosting from the bowls after the kiddos were finished (and by finished, I mean showed no interest in decorating cookies anymore until we started doing it) the process seemed much more streamlined and much less messy. Honestly my favorite part was decorating the gingerbread people, some of which I cut out using my Star Wars Cookie Cutters from Williams Sonoma to make Yoda and Darth Vader gingerbread men. Something about the simplicity of just decorating using royal icing and a few embellishments was much more satisfying than trying to get the buttercream frosting on the sugar cookies to behave exactly like I wanted. Personally, I wish I’d made Storm Troopers and Boba Fetts as well instead of so many regular gingerbread people.



It seems like each year we make less and less in the way of cookie varieties, but it still takes us the same amount of time. Perhaps it is the whole trial-and-error approach that we go into these annual all day baking sessions with the kids and deciding to make each year better focused than the previous. Or perhaps it is because we love the company we’re with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baking

Do you ever have days you just want to crawl back into bed and stay there? Today is one of those days.

Today is the annual Bake-a-thon with our friends and their four girls. This year we’ve decided to tone it down a little by making the dough ahead of time and only doing the actual baking and decorating there. Of course, that would assume that we made the dough ahead of time, which we didn’t because I was busy making a NASCAR Number 48 Jimmy Johnson Birthday Cake for a coworker and we had friends over to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I suppose that means we should get cracking on those doughs before heading over, huh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crappy Plumbing

Seriously, we moved out of a house that had horrific issues with the kitchen sink and into a much newer house with silly plumbing issues. Grrr… AARGH!!!

Okay, so perhaps the two simply cannot be compared. However, it is quite tiring to find a puddle under the sink because whoever installed the pipes didn’t take into account things like, say, measurements, before cutting and putting them together. Of course, we still have most of our extra PVC pipes from the old house and I’m sure I could fix the problem myself, the quarter after six in-the-morning time I usually find this problem hinders my motivation to do so. Alas, I suppose that if I want something done I’ve got to do it myself… especially since we already got the problem taken off our rent when we moved in because I thought I had remedied it back then.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday Sewing

Sometimes you just need to tell yourself you are going to do something no matter what. Especially if you have been unconsciously abstaining from it.

After church yesterday I had one goal, sewing. I didn’t get all that I set out to do, but got pretty far. Between plotting out a coworkers birthday cake and making butternut squash soup I sewed and sewed, finishing up the final three blocks for The Fall Quilt (I thought I only had two, but alas, there were three) and putting the border on the Frog and Fairy Baby Quilt. All in all I’m pretty happy with the results. That being said, I wish I had changed a few things.




The Fall Quilt I started using a jelly roll of Sandy Gervais’s Mix & Mingle from Moda Fabrics. I also mixed in some of Sandy’s Solids from various charm packs to create the four feature panels. While I’ve already sewed the rows together, part of me wants to rip the stitches out and frame them before adding them to the quilt using the Walnut solid I picked out for the sides of the quilt. The other part says screw it, just finish the damn thing already!


Now the Frog and Fairy Baby Quilt I was hoping to get the border, backing and batting all sandwiched together, but alas I only… please excuse my train of thought, the cat just decided to jump into the fish tank and knock out half the power in the kitchen… got so far as to put the border on and that’s it. Hopefully tonight between baking cake I’ll be able to finish this and figure out what I’m going to do with The Fall Quilt.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Backburner Projects

Like dust collecting on my sewing machine, so are the days of my not quilting. I’m about to go all serial killer if I don’t get a fix in soon.

A little too dramatic? Maybe. But since this whole Christmas Season thing has started, many of my quilting projects have been put on hold. However, I’m wondering if perhaps I should start working on them again this afternoon when we get back from church. I mean, with everything we planned on getting for Christmas out of the way, the only thing we need to do still is bake cookies. Lots and lots and lots of cookies.

I’ve got two projects currently that I would really like to see done shortly, The Fall Quilt (and yes, I’m quite aware that we’re only a few short days from winter here in the Pacific Northwest) and the Frog and Fairy Baby Quilt which, honestly, should have been done ages ago. Not that I’m anticipating that much downtime during our Christmas vacation, but just in case, I’d like to have a project to start hand quilting should there be any. With only two more blocks on The Fall Quilt and a simple border and backing and binding for the Frog and Fairy Baby Quilt, I probably could have had both of these done yesterday after work. Alas, my mind was elsewhere… as in The Vampire Diaries and The Smurfs movie. Let’s try not to repeat that pattern again today.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Week

While there are presents under the tree, and perhaps I should simply leave it at that, part of me wants to do more this Christmas. Then again, why stress?

With only one week until Christmas, it is only natural to feel the pressure to finish up those projects or grand plans before the day arrives. For us professional procrastinators, however, the one week mark is typically the starting point. Part of me is wondering just how far I can push this out while another part of me is freaking out that there are indeed only seven days left. I suppose I wouldn’t freak out so much if I had any clue just what I was going to do. Maybe this quilty… I mean guilty… feeling will go away after we have our annual Bake-a-thon next Wednesday with our good friends.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Alarm Clocks

Oh sleep, how I have missed thee!
On a cold winter’s morn nothing is better
Than awaking to a cock’s crow.
As long as it is at a reasonable hour.

In my case, however, the cock’s crow is actually the alarm clock. Evil, dastardly machines hell-bent on destroying any slumber that crosses its path. We got rid of our accidental roosters years ago, but the alarm clock for some reason still has a presence. I guess it has its reasons. While it would be great to live in a world without them, alas, their need is great. Without them a whole world wouldn’t be on time to work or events. Still, that is no excuse to so rudely awaken me at six-in-the-morning to announce the beginning of the day. Wait? It’s only six? Hooray! I’ve got fifteen more minutes of “quality” sleep time. My husband on the other hand, not so much.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Laziness Versus Resource Conservation

It’s one thing to be lazy and not do something because you don’t want to. It’s another when doing it out of conserving precious resources, right?

I haven’t been shaving lately. I mean, well, not since Sunday anyway. Yes, I know, it’s bad. The problem is that I only have one razor left and those things are expensive. My husband is actually using his last one so he’ll need me to get those replacements a short while before I need mine. My question to propose is this: Is it simply me being lazy because, well, I dislike shaving, or am I being resource savvy by not doing so when it isn’t required? Perhaps there is a little bit of truth in both.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Giving

This morning I started contemplating the origins of gift giving. With so much cerebral research about to be had, I figured doubling my normal amount of morning coffee would be in order.

Giving gifts for special occasions is nothing new. It predates written history and has continued throughout, continuously evolving while at the same time remaining quite traditional. People have given gifts to celebrate the birth of children, coming of age, marriages and everything in between. However, who decided what events to give gifts for and what events in life are just not considered gift-worthy? It seems this is also something that varies culturally as well as religiously. But I’m not here to raise a philosophical debate over which religion or culture is the right one because, honestly, I don’t think there is any one way to live life. I am, however, going to try to attempt to explain why we give gifts.

It depresses me to no end when I see pictures or video of people trampling each other the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, just so they can get the latest toy or gimmick the store has on a super sale. Especially when, chances are, that same toy or gimmick will end up in the trash before the following Christmas. I don’t understand if it is some kind of challenge or bragging rights these people get out of it or if the underlying factor is a sense to feel like you are one of the Joneses, even though you are barely getting by. Another part of me feels bad for these people, knowing the societal pressure to spend hordes of money on presents so their kids don’t feel left out or worse, picked on by their fellow classmates.

I grew up poor and yes, was made fun of for not having the latest fashionable clothes or the newest Transformer or He-Man action figure, but never had a sense that I was somehow not loved enough for receiving second hand Christmas presents and clothes. Don’t get me wrong. I knew that some of my friends indeed had more than we did, but also had friends who had considerably less. The point is not how much you have, but the thought behind such gifts and the recipient understanding the reason for getting it. Instilling these values in our kids seems to have gone by the wayside as I see more and more of them growing up with a sense of entitlement and very little in the way of gratitude. This is a general assessment, mind you, and I know that it doesn’t speak to everyone, but it does seem to be a growing epidemic.

As a kid I used to spend months making Christmas presents for my aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as siblings and parents. I didn’t do this out of an expectation of getting something in return, but because I simply wanted to give. I continued this to an extent as I got older, making annual Christmas ornaments, even taking time off work to accomplish everything I wanted to do. For me, the act of giving means a lot, especially when money is at its tightest. It definitely means a very lean January and February to make up for it, but in the end the sacrifices are worth it. So perhaps I shouldn’t condemn the people fighting over the last twenty dollar DVD player or pushing their way through the crowd to grab this year’s Elmo craze because maybe, just maybe, they get the same satisfaction of seeing the smile on the recipients face as I do.

So while we may not get the same gifts the baby Jesus received from the Magi of gold, frankincense and myrrh, may we continue to live a life of giving of ourselves for others without expectation of anything in return. You may surprise yourself by how much more meaningful it is to give than to receive.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twelve Days and Counting

Only twelve days until Christmas. Let the Freak-Out-Mode officially commence.

Okay, so perhaps I’m not the only procrastinator in the world, but the closer it gets to Christmas and the lack of presents under the tree tell me someone has been slacking off. I won’t name names, but I’ve got a pretty good clue of who it is… me. I guess that means I should be on Santa’s Naughty List.


One way to remedy absent presents is to simply go get some. But me being me, I’d rather make what I can and only buy when necessary. This isn’t always an available option, and the closer it gets to Christmas without anything really finished (or started for that matter) the more I resign myself to thinking store-bought is what will end up getting done anyway. I suppose if I wasn’t me, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but alas, my procrastination sometimes gets the best of me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Less Parties and More Crafting, Please!

With all the partying, how is one to work of Christmas gifts too? Perhaps some creative thinking is required.

This time of year is filled with Christmas Parties and get-togethers almost to the point that there isn’t much time for anything else, especially if you are working. However, a few strategically planned craft times can still be managed. For instance, if I really wanted to, I could’ve worked on making presents before our own Christmas Party on Saturday, but felt more like trying to figure out how the hell to use my new phone. Or Sunday after church I could’ve used the time to work on presents, but instead spent it trying to figure out how the hell to use my new phone. I hate getting a new cell phone, especially since my previous one was so perfect for me but was, well, showing signs it was on its way out after four years of continuous use. Let’s just say after following the instructions listed on the website for changing folder names and whatnots on my memory card, I decided to ignore them all and do it how I was originally going to do it. Sure enough, it worked. I suppose that is my fault for trying to follow directions for once in my life.

Anyway, part of the craziness of Christmas is the last-minute crafter’s ability to whip out presents like magic. Oh, sure, we could have been planning and making stuff all year long, but what fun would that be? Where is the challenge? For as long as I can remember I’ve sworn that I’ll start making stuff sooner for the following year, but it never happens. Alas, it looks like carving out niche times to sew will need to be during what I’d normally use as after dinner down time, also known as television zombie mode. Considering most broadcast shows are on hiatus until after the new year, however, is perfect for using that time for craft projects instead. With any luck, I’ll be halfway done with my Christmas presents by Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Picture Lacking

Lately I’ve been slacking off in the picture taking of events as well as the every day. I need to change that.

It was apparent last night that I wasn’t in the picture taking mood when I looked at the camera on a side table in the living room while we had friends over for a small Christmas party, mostly of my husband’s teaching cohort, and I decided not to take pictures but instead just enjoy the company. I’m kicking myself for not picking up the damn camera and snapping a few shots at least.

I believe part of the problem is that we haven’t had pictures printed in five years, and with no physical photo album to casually glance through my mind must simply think there aren’t pictures to be viewed. I need to get this mentality out of my head and get back to recording these memories again and not just when I get a few complaints suggestions that my blog is lacking in pictures.

So perhaps this should be my goal for 2012. Of course, I’m debating over whether to continue writing a daily blog about random happenstances and the occasional what I’m up to in the craft world come next year. At the same time, however, it has become so engrained in my morning routine that I don’t know if I’d even want to. Maybe a day of the week devoted to pictures? Maybe I should focus on goals and track my progress through photos? Maybe I should drink more coffee and enjoy another cinnamon roll my husband decided to make (from scratch, mind you) yesterday. Alas, I suppose I’ll find out just how ambitious my plans are for next year, uh, next year. In the mean time I’ll leave you with the remnants of last night’s party…


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Of Coyotes and Chickens

This morning when I woke up (quite late I might add) I looked out to see a coyote in the yard next to the chicken coop. At first I was like, Oh look! A coyote in the yard! But then I was like, What the hell?! There’s a coyote in the yard! Looking at the chickens in the coop! And the chickens are just standing there staring back as if to say, Top O’ the mornin’ to ya! Crazy birds. They weren’t even fazed. The coyote noticed me and stepped back slightly but didn’t start running away until I opened the door to let Lucy, our Great Dane, out to chase her.

All of this got me wondering just what coyotes do for food during the winter. I mean, I know that we don’t have horribly freezing weather (contrary to what we’ve had over the last couple weeks and at least for a few more days) during the winter, but it does seem that most of the wildlife we normally see during the rest of the year is in hiding. It kind of makes me feel bad for the poor coyote just looking for her next meal. At the same time I’m wondering if it is time to predator proof our chicken coop.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Department 56 North Pole Village

Collecting a collections is one thing. Knowing when to stop is another.





When I met my husband he had three pieces of Department 56’s North Pole Village. Within ten years that number was ten times larger. It has been quite a few years since we’ve purchased any new items from the collection, but this isn’t very surprising considering the quality reduction, mass production attitude the company acquired. However, the older pieces still retain their original hand painted charm. Although, I will admit, we do have a few pieces that I would consider hybrid pieces with a little commercialism. I decided to set them up in an area that shows Santa’s expansion into the commercial market.



Today, sadly, the pieces are mostly plastic and mechanically painted instead of hand painted ceramic and the offshoot villages, Elf Land and North Pole Woods, just aren’t up to par with their predecessor. We do have a few pieces from these villages, but only one that we purchased, Rudolph Ring Toss.

The hardest part about putting up the village was trying to put out everything I wanted to put out. I kept trying to find a way to put a shelf between the two towers in our living room and when that was obviously not going to work I simply put a shelf on top of them. Duh. There are still a couple pieces I would have liked to display, but ran out of room. Oh well, maybe another year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Papa

Losing a grandparent is difficult. Losing them long before they actually pass away is harder.

I remember the first time we went to Lewiston, Idaho to have Thanksgiving with Papa and Grandma K.. It was a long drive, it was cold when we got there, and we had to rake leaves. Yes, rake leaves… in the cold. My brother and I would have froze to death, but we had just gotten hand knitted gloves and hats from them. How convenient. What I wasn’t expecting was getting paid to do it. It was the first time I had gotten money for doing chores and the first time I realized that hard work pays off… literally. I used that money for Christmas presents, or candy, I’m not really sure.

What I remember most is thinking it was absolutely awesome knowing somebody in the entertainment industry. Okay, so Papa worked for a local radio station, but we got to tour the station before he took my brother and I to the toy store to pick out stuff for us and our sisters and had goulash for dinner. And he knew Santa. Mall Santa. A mall Santa who arrived at the mall in a helicopter. It was amazing to my nine year old self. Papa also loved to tell war stories from when he was in Korea. Lots and lots of stories. And he could watch television in his sleep as was apparent when I changed the channel while he was obviously sleeping and he said, “I was watching that.” I still have no idea how he’d know I even changed the channel, but he did. He always did.

So a few years ago when we were told that Papa’s mind wasn’t as sharp as it once was and he had to constantly be reminded of who people were, I was saddened. I wondered if he would still be the same person I knew. And for the most part, he was. But over time it was quite apparent that he was remembering less and less and becoming more paranoid that something was going to happen to his dog who practically never left his side. On one hand this slow degradation somewhat prepares you for the inevitable, but on the other it just seems cruel.

When I got the call that he had passed away, or more accurately text message (don’t mock, between texting and Facebook is how my family communicates) I wasn’t surprised by anything except actually breaking down and crying over the loss. Even though I knew it was coming and have been preparing for it over the last couple days, I still couldn’t stop falling to the ground as the tears began flowing. And then I started laughing as a story he told me about my stepdad popped into my head. Losing someone is difficult and painful, but as long as we remember them, their spirit will live on.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Productivity Versus Laziness

It has been said that choosing the lesser of two evils is better. I beg to diff… Damn cat! Get out of my coffee!

As much as I’d love to make today productive, I’ve got a feeling I’ll be fighting the urge to simply be lazy. However, considering I did nothing after work yesterday perhaps I should reconsider. After all, with so little time before Christmas and so much going on between now and then, it might be a good idea to take advantage of a little free time.

Address Christmas cards; plan a menu for Saturday; figure out what to bring for the work Christmas party Sunday; decorate the house some more; clean, clean, clean! Drinking coffee and watching The Vampire Diaries sounds better. And easier. And my head is stuffy, nose is runny and throat is sore so I don’t want to do anything right now. Alas, priorities must be taken and this time of year doesn’t allow for much downtime. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Expectations

When faced with a dilemma of multiple appearances with gifts and food items in tow, a lack of funds can be a hindrance. A little creativity might be just what the doctor ordered.

I work for an extremely generous boss. The guy puts in as much volunteering time as he does work. Before working at the veterinary clinic I knew that he did a lot of volunteer work with the homeless and Heifer International, but I didn’t realize just how many hours or how much money he donated to these various organizations he’s involved with. We also go to the same church and he seems to always be busy with something there as well.

So you can imagine the dilemma we at work are facing this Sunday for our Christmas Party on exactly what to get him. However, we have a plan and figured if we all go in together on something it would have a better impact. Group gifts make a lot of sense when you don’t have enough money on your own to get something meaningful. If a group gift is not an option, something homemade might be in order. Don’t try to overdo it with something ultra fancy that will consume your every waking hour, just make something that makes sense for the recipient. A couple potholders for a cook, a coffee cozy for a latte lover or an ornament for just about anyone else you can’t come up with a personalized gift are all simple yet personal gifts that you can make.

As for food, apply the same rules. With all the busyness of the holiday season it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of get-togethers you may be invited to or having yourself. Make ahead side dishes and finger foods are the easiest route to take. That way when you have a little free time you can assemble the dishes so they are ready when you need them. Take the stress out of the holiday season and don’t let your perception of somebody else’s expectations drive you. We can’t all be Martha Stewart, but we can take a cue from Sandra Lee. As long as it isn’t a Kwanzaa Cake!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Festival

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, sometimes you just need to take a little time out of your day and make a gingerbread house. Or thirty-five of them.

After weeks of planning and stressing over the Advent Festival, it, as usual, went off well anyway. Honestly I don’t know if anybody had doubts, but still, these things take careful preparation. Most of the preparations were done two hours before the event started, which of course meant lots of down time. We apparently all assumed that since we put the youth group in charge it would take longer, but the opposite seems true. The adults in the group kept the kids occupied by having them grab this or that every now and then.


As for the gingerbread houses, or more accurately graham cracker houses, the final count was thirty-five. Due to the abundance of children either eating an average two pieces for every one they’d place on their house we ran out of candy before houses. I had to tell the last few people, “Check the cookie station. They have sprinkles.” Oh well. Of course, this should have become apparent that if you wanted a gingerbread house you need to be there first thing since my table was overflowing with architects while the other four were empty for the first half-an-hour. Alas, at the end, a lone house stood naked and unadorned. I left it in the kitchen for someone just in case.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Graham Cracker Houses

To make or not to make? That is the question.

Today is our church’s annual Advent Festival. That means I’m in charge of Gingerbread Houses or, more accurately, Graham Cracker Houses. In the past I’ve premade the houses themselves since they require accurate cutting and construction skills the average five year old does not possess. That and I would prefer to only have to make six batches of royal icing for the event. Add into account people making their own houses and I’d have to double that figure. That’s a lot of egg whites and powdered sugar. Not to mention I would also have to double the amount of graham crackers due to breakage and eating losses.

And so it appears I’m going to be constructing them once again this year. As fun as it would be to watch those not-so-nimble fingers attempt to make freestanding walls and attach a roof, the fact of the matter is I just don’t think we’re there yet or ever will be. Alas, it looks like another exciting adventure in house building will begin after church this morning. Four hours to construct about fifty houses? Bring it on.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Disaster Areas

Sometimes when projects are plentiful the house can get into a bit of disarray. Sorry folks, there’s just no way around that.

Currently our kitchen table is flooded with cardstock, rubber stamps, ink pads and felt tip markers surrounded mostly done Christmas cards. If there was a way to take up less space I’d have figured it out by now. With so many different supplies needed at your fingertips, it is near impossible to reduce the required square footage. Trust me, I’ve tried. Even when I had the craft room at the old house with a specific scrapbooking/card making station, it still looked like a tornado had come through and tossed everything onto the desk.

Now that we share the office space and craft room, it is less likely to simply see a closed door concealing the contents inside. Of course, I have half the room set up just for sewing currently. My cutting table, otherwise known as a foldable card table with a cutting mat on it, currently has fabric stashes for at least four different projects I’m working on. Seriously I have yardage, bits and pieces of batiks for The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt, various sized pieces and scraps from the Auction Quilt I just finished, the backing and border fabrics, along with the remainder for the Green and Brown Baby Quilt I’m working on, and piles of fabric strips ready to be cut and pieced for final blocks on The Fall Quilt. They are just all over the place on that small table making it a wonder I can use it to cut anything at all!

The obvious thing to do would be to organize it all, but then I’d end up taking everything out again and the process would start all over. So instead I will simply put the fabrics away that I’ve already used and are finished with and fold them into columns onto the bookcase I have in the room to hold it all. That way, should I need to come back to any of those projects, the pile used will still all be together. As for the stamps and cardstock, I just need to finish the damn Christmas cards already!

Addendum: I just walked into the craft room/office because I was trying to upload this onto my blog and lo and behold I remembered I had fabric for a fifth project piled up on top that I scrapped because it was, well, far too uninspiring to even start. Oy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Another Busy Weekend

This time of year busyness abounds. Don’t forget to breathe.

I know that I’ve got another busy weekend. Finishing up the Christmas cards to get them sent out, making between forty-five and fifty gingerbread houses for the Advent Festival at church along with setting up for said festival and accompanying silent auction. Alas, it also means no time for sewing or Christmas presents or anything fun. Boo. However, there are a few things I can do to make it easier on myself.

Typically with the gingerbread houses I make a variety of styles. Perhaps instead I should just make one. Never mind, forget I said that. Part of the fun of making the houses in the first place is that I make a few different types to keep me from going crazy. Maybe I should focus my restraint on the candy side of the equation? You know, instead of getting a little of a lot of different kinds of candies just get a lot of a few. Hmmm… this could work and would result in less chances of everyone’s favorite running out. Of course, it would also help if half of the candy would end up on the gingerbread houses themselves instead of in the kids’s tummies.

As for the silent auction and the set up of the whole Advent Festival event, maybe I should leave that up to the teenagers running the show. But, I know me, and I know that I won’t be able to simply let them have at it and not be involved. True, this would be perfect for them to do alone, but, well, it probably isn’t going to happen. Unless, of course, I don’t get all of the gingerbread houses done tomorrow after work and have to make them there. Then I won’t give a crap how they set everything up because I’ll be too busy to care.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Operation Auction Quilt: Complete

Sometimes I look at a project and say to myself, “Damn, I’m good.” This is one of those projects.


With only days to spare until the actual silent auction at church, I finally finished the baby quilt I set out to donate. I say finally, but I made the top on Saturday and bought and cut the backing, sandwiched it with some Warm and Natural cotton batting and safety pinned it every six inches before quilting and binding it yesterday. I’m still new to machine quilting so I decided to utilize a simple technique I did when I made my niece’s diaper bag, which is loose wavy lines over the seams. It’s like quilting in the ditch but for those of us who aren’t so great at perfectly straight lines.


I have to say the backing I found (on sale for less than three dollars a yard at JoAnn’s) works out perfectly. It was a stroke of luck I even found it since I had already picked up my number for the cutting table and was wasting time wandering around until my number was called when I spotted this gem. Within just a few seconds of seeing it, I heard my number, snatched it up and rushed to the table to have a couple yards of it cut. I only needed one yard, but wanted to have extra for my stash. I’m awful like that.


Because I was so ready to finish this project, it completely slipped my mind to embroider my name onto the backing before quilting it, so I opted instead to make a label. Using some of the selvage from the center panel and a permanent fabric pen, I wrote my name and the year, ironed on some fusible webbing, ironed it onto the back of a section I was about to quilt and did a quick zigzag stitch around it before quilting my last line. It isn’t perfect, but it works.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Cards

When graced with an abundance of rubber stamps and ink, what is one to do? Make your own Christmas cards of course!

Years ago I was a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator. Basically I used my discount to feed my addiction to scrapbooking and card making supplies. I couldn’t tell you exactly how much of my disposable income (back in the day when such a thing existed) to purchase enough stuff to keep my discount and demonstrator status, but I can tell you that the minimum requirements were three-hundred dollars every quarter and I had no problem keeping that up for at least a couple years. I’m sure you can do the math.

Anyway, my husband and I were talking and decided that we needed to send out Christmas cards this year, if for no other reason than to update people on our new address. I suggested making them since I already had the supplies out for a recent church project. Of course, that meant that we’d actually have to, you know, make them. Much easier said than done. And so yesterday we worked on them together and have them mostly put together. Now we just need to decide whether or not to include a Christmas Letter to go inside.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Of Gifts and Plans

Ideas abound when money is at its least. Figures.

It always seems to happen this time of year as Christmas approaches, closing in faster and faster as if the inertia of a bullet train from Thanksgiving to December twenty-fifth pushes forward at near light speed, that the time to work on projects decreases. What with the random parties and get-togethers and baking is one to do? Well, there are two options. The first is to try and squeeze everything in and in turn go ahead and make a reservation at the nearest mental health institution. The second, and obvious choice to me anyway, is to simply relax and make a plan of what you can actually accomplish.

On the docket for this week? Christmas cards. Actually if I can make them all today after work that would be great. That way I can get them out in the mail tomorrow so people will have our new address. However, I’m allowing myself the rest of the week since I have two quilts to finish up. Now I just need to ransack my rubber stamps and figure out a design. Since this will only require postage, because I already have all of the supplies, it is also something I can do.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beginning to Look Like Christmas

With Thanksgiving over, it is time to drag out the Christmas decorations in our house. Typically we start with the tree.

Our Christmas tree is quite the eclectic mix of commercialism and traditionalism. I mean, we have Star Trek ships, Smurfs, Looney Toons characters, Charlie Brown Characters and more surrounded by hand painted glass ornaments, Victorian inspired ornaments, along with a variety of wood and ceramic ornaments from our childhoods. There is even a Lego Darth Vader gracing our tree this year. However, with that being said, the house is far from looking as Christmassy as I’d like. Perhaps the reason is because we have so much in the way of autumn decorations that I had acquired years ago when putting on a Harvest Festival at church.


And so it appears that I will try to figure out where to hang our stockings, since we have no fireplace at this house, and make the windows not look so, uh, er, ghetto apartment-like. Maybe it is time to think about window treatments. Hmmm… I wonder if any of the upholstery fabric I bought back in 2005-2006 when I was redoing our bedroom and the craft room at the old house will work? Part of me is wishing we would’ve taken at least the end panels down from the old house before the bank took it back, but alas, no use wasting time on the past. I’m also tempted to do something with the wide expanse of emptiness on the wall above the sofa, but can’t decide what I’d like to do with that area. Hopefully once we take out the Department 56 North Pole Village the rest of the room will start to say Christmas. Or perhaps I need to wrap a few empty boxes and put them under the tree.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday's Sewing

Do you ever mull over a project for days and are completely uninspired to work on it until you decide to change everything and magically it gets done in just a few hours? That’s how I felt with this latest quilt.

For a couple weeks now I’ve been racking my brain over what to do for the silent auction we are having at our church during the Advent Festival next Sunday to help raise money for the youth to go to nationals. I had already said I would be making a baby blanket for the event, but hadn’t a clue what I was going to actually make. Then I remembered I had six yards of a Noah’s Ark fabric from Daisy Kingdom laying around that I can’t stand and thought this would be a great way to get rid of it once and for all. I started cutting out a couple panels and chose coordinating fabrics and stared at it all in disgust. Even though this was going to be an unpaid piece that I was donating I just couldn’t do it. There was too much ugliness and pain. Okay, so the pain was simply my disinterest in the project.

And so it was time for a do-over. Time to go back to the drawing board. It was then that I remembered I’d already picked out fabric for a crib-sized quilt a couple months ago on a random trip to the fabric store on my lunch (Shhh! Don’t tell my husband!) because I needed more thread. So I stared at those five fat quarters, decided to use one for That 70s Quilt whenever I start that one, and chose another couple of fabrics from my stash to complete it. With the idea of simply using one of the fat quarters as a center panel, I cut out squares from the remaining fabric and arranged them into a pleasing display. Now I just need to decide whether or not to sandwich it with batting and backing before quilting or use a coordinating piece of fleece for the back. Part of me is leaning towards the easier (and cheaper) of the two.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Accommodating Pet Quirks

Our house has no end to the amount of quirkiness the pets exhibit. Knowing where to draw the line will help you keep what little sanity you may have left.

To clarify, our two cats and dog are pretty much free-roaming-hang-out-where-you-want-to kind of pets. To this end, yes, they are allowed on the sofa and chair-and-a-half, in the kitchen, the office/craft room, even the garage. However, I draw the line at countertops and the kitchen table. Eliminating warm, cozy places for them to curl up where I don’t want them to and making their allowed areas even more so will help curb this… somewhat. A determined cat who simply wants to sleep on the kitchen table is probably going to do so no matter what deterrents you put in place, even the old standby of crumpled up aluminum foil. To keep the sofa and chair-and-a-half as easy as possible to clean, I made seat quilts. Well, I made a pair originally for the sofa and that didn’t work out so well, so I made one to go over both seats and that works a little better, and so the pair went to the chair-and-a-half with one on the seat and one on the backrest where our cat Dexter enjoys lounging.

Another quirk of Dexter’s is that he likes to crawl through the mini blinds to sit on the windowsill. To keep this from being an issue, I’ve just taken to keeping the blinds open to his sitting level at all times. Yes, it looks goofy both inside and out, but at least he can jump up and not get all tangled up in the blinds. Yes, this has happened. No, I didn’t take a picture. He also finds it quite amusing to lay on his back in the very dark hallway and get tripped over. Our cat Tuesday on the other hand, is, well, old and doesn’t really do much of anything. Except get in our way when we are trying to work on projects in the office/craft room. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have either run over her or almost done so while rolling back in the chairs either sewing or using the desktop. She’s also howling for food by four in the morning right outside our bedroom door. Our dog Lucy, well, she pretty much thinks she’s the queen. I have to keep a tray on our chair-and-a-half to prevent her from sleeping on it and also to encourage her to either sleep on her bed or the sofa. She also wants an entourage to help her go potty if it is raining. Getting the cheese out for any reason? She’s waiting for her slice. Actually anything food related she expects to get her cut.

There are a million other things they do that annoy me to no end, but it is also those very traits that make them so fascinating. Even if they rip the ironing board cover as they fall off during a nap. Frakking Dexter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After

I am thankful for good friends. I’m also thankful for a cooked turkey in much less time than anticipated.

We Americans sure like to celebrate being gluttonous. After a day filled with more food than most of us eat in a week, many of us spend a ton of money on worthless crap because it is on sale. I mean, where else do people gather together and give thanks for friends and family and a few hour later push, shove, trample and do everything humanly possible to get that “great deal” advertised in the newspaper the day before? I don’t know about you, but I have only ever ventured out into the abyss known as Black Friday once in my life and that was because I had spent the night making music videos with my cousins (because that’s just what we used to do) and were all planning on leaving to go shopping with most of my aunts and grandma so I tagged along. It was a nightmare.

Then, just for arguments sake, I’ll take the other end of the spectrum and say that the day after Thanksgiving when you work retail, as I did for nine years, was crazy. I’ll have to admit that it was kind of fun watching a stampede in progress filled with some of the most ghetto people who couldn’t be bothered to dress in regular people clothes or do their hair racing towards you in a panicked frenzy to grab the latest Elmo or pick over pajama sets. Sometimes you just gotta know when to step aside and let the craziness happen. After all, most of these people hadn’t been to bed in days so they could save a couple bucks.

I’m not sure if it is because I’m already a bargain hunter to begin with or if the idea of being trapped with a bunch of strangers in a building where there are only one or two exits and the sheer amount of people well exceeds fire code and my claustrophobia might cause be to have a panic attack, but shopping on Black Friday doesn’t appeal to me. Especially since it is simply a day to get most big box retail stores out of the red, as in debt, and back into the black, as in profit. Alas, if I had the money, I’d do my shopping tomorrow instead on Small Business Saturday. I would feel much better spending money at a mom and pop shop then at an evil corporation made with evil parts for the sole purpose of committing evil.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

With preparation on a majority of today’s meal complete, it’s time to sit back and relax, right? Methinks not.

After taking the turkey out of the freezer two days before the recommend time, I figured I’d have a defrosted bird by last night. However, as luck would have it her breasts were squishy and her thighs were still quite firm, as in hard as a rock. Alas, time to pull out the ultimate tool… the water bath. I prefer to use our cooler, as it is a self-contained unit that I can wheel around. After putting the turkey inside, I used the shower in the bathroom to fill it with cold water until it was submerged, in theory. Again, her breasts were squishy and apparently also able to be used as flotation devices. My husband put an iron skillet over her to keep her under water. It must have worked because this morning she feels quite tender all over. Excellent.

Okay, so with the turkey finally ready for preparation, it’s time to figure out just what to do with her. I left out half a stick of butter from cooking down the veggies for the stuffings and cut some extra herbs from the garden, both sage and rosemary, however I’m wondering if a combination will work best. What I’ve done in the past is rubbed an herbed butter (with sage, thyme, salt and pepper) under the skin and placed fresh sage leaves under it as well and put garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs inside the cavity during roasting. Actually, this year I’m going to do the same. Why mess with perfection. However, I’m going to start cooking her much earlier than I normally do so that she will actually be ready in time for dinner instead of hours after I say dinner will be. For some reason Whole Turkey and I don’t speak the same language, but I’m sure it is simply because we haven’t gotten to know each other very well.

The next thing I have to do is make the mashed potatoes, for which I’m going to be utilizing a fantastic technique I learned last year in which you cook the potatoes in the milk and butter instead of boiling them in water. They come out tasting so much richer and flavorful and are less work. I like less work. Okay, so they’re only less work if you can’t leave well enough alone. Of course, with four cloves of garlic, a stick of butter, a cup of cream and a cup of milk, they’d better be flavorful! Simply melt half the butter in the pan and add the minced garlic, stirring and letting it cook until it starts to turn golden. Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir for thirty seconds to a minute longer. Next, add the milk, cream and about two-and-a-half pounds peeled and quartered Yukon Gold potatoes. Bring to a boil, put a lid on and lower the heat to low for twenty to thirty minutes, depending on size. Test for doneness with a fork, which should pierce through the thickest part easily. Use a potato masher directly in the pan until the consistency you desire. Add more milk if needed a little at a time, just make sure it is hot. Perfect mashed potatoes that have a hint of roasted garlic thanks to the magic of butter and sugar.

The only other thing that will need to be made today on our end is the gravy. However, I like to wait until the turkey is out of the oven so I can use those delicious drippings. My basic gravy starts with butter and flour (you can also use the fats from the drippings) before adding stock, dried sage and black pepper. A little salt goes a long way, so I usually taste it before adding any towards the end of the cooking process. If the gravy doesn’t thicken up properly, it’s time to pull out the big guns: Cornstarch. Mix a tablespoon or two of cornstarch with more stock or cold water, as cornstarch will not dissolve in hot liquids, and slowly add just a little at a time while whisking until it starts to thicken. I think this year I’ll also be adding the giblets to the gravy, in which I will sauté them with some butter and garlic and puree them in the food processor before adding them to the gravy. Perhaps I should check with the guests first, as not everyone is a giblet fan.

Hopefully your Thanksgiving is fantastic and memorable, just not in the ‘Oh-my-gawd-the-turkey-burned-and-the-potato-peels-backed-up-the-sink-and-my-homemade-French-fried-onions-look-more-like-shit-rings-on-top-of-the-green-bean-casserole’ way. Not that this ever happened (all in the same year, anyway), but I pray today goes smoothly for all my fellow bakers and cooks out there. And if it doesn’t, oh well. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: Minus One Day

Turkey Day is tomorrow which means only one thing… PANIC!!! Unless, of course, you’ve done your homework.

The big day doesn’t have to be stressful if you do as much ahead of time as possible. The day before Thanksgiving is perfect for baking pies, making cranberry sauce, even getting your stuffing ready to be baked if you are so inclined. My husband has decided to make a pumpkin and his famous chocolate pie, so I will make the crusts using the same recipe I’ve used for years but with a little alteration I did recently when I made an apple pie that made that crust amazing. Yes, sometimes I surprise myself with just how good I am.

Now with the cranberry sauce, I typically make this a day ahead to allow it to cool and congeal slightly, but in a pinch can be made the morning of if, say, you decide to whittle away today by being lazy. Or, in my case, cleaning dog pee and poop from the carpets again after weeks of having no accidents. Frakking dog. Grrr. Something tells me she won’t be sleeping in the living room tonight. Also I will probably be making the Bacon Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing and Apple Sausage Stuffing today as well, which will give both of these dishes time to soak in all of the flavors. By prepping these ahead of time, all I will have to do is slip them into the oven after taking out the turkey. Of course, a little foresight is required in that these both will cook best if brought up to room temperature ahead of time, so I need to remember to take them out of the refrigerator at least a half-an-hour before, if not an hour.

With the gravy you’ve got options. Personally, I prefer to make the gravy using some of the drippings and the juices from the turkey. However, if you don’t, make it ahead of time and reheat it before serving. Just remember to use less thickener than you normally would as it will thicken significantly during cooling. And nothing says you can’t have two gravies, especially if you like to make giblet gravy and have guests who are opposed to such culinary delectableness. Mmm… giblets.

Lastly, go ahead and set up the dining room table. It may not seem like an important thing to do ahead, but with all the busyness bound to happen tomorrow, why not do as much ahead of time as possible. If you don’t have any decorations, don’t worry. A small vase with a few branches from a tree and some dry leaves from outside are both simple and free and this time of year quite abundant. Besides, with the table already set and ready, it will surely give your guests a true sense of being welcome for dinner. Okay, so I’m blowing smoke out of my ass right now. I just think a set table looks pretty and allows me more time to mingle and less time worrying about where everyone is going to sit.

By spreading out the load you can make the day as stress-free as possible. That is, assuming, that all hell doesn’t break loose.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving: Minus Two Days

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving is usually the earliest I will start any of the sides. It is also the last day I will step foot into a grocery store until after the holiday madness is over.

Time to go over my checklist and see where I am at on supplies and replenish any stock required for the big day. The last thing anyone wants is to finally be ready for dinner and have the sudden realization you’re out of butter! Okay, so perhaps this is mainly my concern. However, with just a few people and only a few sides, this year should breeze by pretty easily, right? Alas, one can never be too prepared.

I am thoroughly amazed at just how much butter I go through on Thanksgiving. Last year, for example, and albeit that was for thirteen people, I went through two pounds of butter like it was, uh, er… butter. This year I am planning on using about the same, even though it’ll only be four of us. Why so much? Because I’m making the same amount of food. What is the point of making a huge turkey feast if there won’t be leftovers? With that in mind, another couple pounds of butter will be added to my grocery list today, along with bread, milk and onions. This house can never have too many onions because I will find a use for them.

Also on my checklist is to make sure the turkey is thawed or on its way to being so. I really don’t feel like dealing with the frozen inner cavity of a bird again. If it does, however, come to that, I have no idea how I’ll be able to do what I did last year which was continue thawing it with water in the sink since our sinks in this house are much shallower than our previous ones. But I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Sewing

It isn’t impossible to accomplish great things when there are a million other things to do. Just make sure there is plenty of chocolate at the end of the tunnel.

Even with gift fairs and bazaars and birthday parties and dessert baking for the church auction on the docket for this weekend, I managed to get in some sewing. Another block down for the Fall Quilt, which means only three left, and I finished the top of the commission quilt I’m working on using greens and browns. Trying to figure out a design for this quilt proved to be just as nerve racking as limiting my color choices. I knew that with the small fussy-cut images I created and printed out that I’d have to fit those into a larger block, but was unsure if I wanted to do simple frames or pieced blocks.

I decided on log cabin blocks and started piecing the two smaller images. After those two, and realizing I had goofed on my second one and the only way to fix it was to either rip the whole thing and start over or create the other two blocks in the same fashion which, unfortunately thanks to the Nazi party, would create a swastika. Probably not the best baby blanket design, even if the original symbol was quite benign before the Nazi’s hijacked it. Grrr… So I figured the other two could be simply framed using the two large prints I had picked out and I’d somehow make the whole thing work. Hopefully it did.