Saturday, November 29, 2008

Busy or exhausted?

Are those our only choices between now and putting away decorations in January?

I didn't host Thanksgiving so I didn't have a zillion dishes to either wash by hand or unload from the dishwasher and wonder if I should return them to their hidey hole now or wait for their siblings to be freed from leftover holding. Does anyone ever have enough plastic ware or the right size storage bags for holiday leftovers?

The only turkeys I touched yesterday were the collectible ones that have been packed away until next November. Hubby and I did get Christmas decorations down from the attic last night without sniping at each other, but there was some almost under the breath snarling going on. Taking decorations out of the attic and replacing them in January are the only times we get like this. Usually. We both agree we have too much stuff. I think we should pitch some things but he is a saver. He isn't here to defend himself put his two cents in, so you may just assume I am right and he should listen to me. Free Smiley Face Courtesy of It may have helped if we had tackled this earlier in the day before we were both tired, but we have a tradition to maintain.

Today was spent with Bill working on outdoor lights and associated decor while I began inside. We won't have a tree up for a few weeks as we still get a live tree and the putting it up a week before is another tradition. Considering we still aren't done, why are we so tired tonight? Do you think it is an AGE thing (Anti-Gumption Event)? I didn't willingly give up my gumption, but it may well have disappeared with my marbles.

I don't really share Maxine's emotions, at least not all of the time, but she does make me smile.

Good luck with your decorating, shopping, baking and keeping up with the day to day stuff. If you find a good buy on extra strength vitamins, please send some my way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Baking is Done!

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving here in the USA, many of us might be busy cooking, parade watching or entertaining guests to visit our usual blogs. My sister-in-law will be cooking a delicious meal, but she doesn't bake so I am in charge of desserts. This is never an imposition. My only problem is limiting the number of desserts!

First we have the gathering of ingredients and bakeware.

The rectangular dishes are for a very easy pumpkin cake recipe using canned pumpkin, a yellow cake mix, a can of evaporated milk and a few spices; and for a Paula Deen apple and caramel concoction. The pie plate is for the de rigeur pumpkin pie.

After the pumpkin cake went into the oven I noticed a banana that was too ripe to eat as is, so I baked a loaf of banana bread today too, and threw in some mini chocolate chips in honor of the holiday. Hours later, here are the completed desserts.

Are you wondering what is in the dark pan to the right? Those are pilgrim hats.

This recipe was in a Taste of Home magazine. Tint a small amount of vanilla frosting yellow and use it to hold a miniature peanut butter cup to the bottom of chocolate striped shortbread cookie. The original recipe called for mini Chiclets to use as the buckle on the frosting hatband, but they don't seem to be available anywhere so I used mini M&Ms.

Everything is packed and ready to go tomorrow. Three of the four have to be refrigerated so our refrigerator is very full at the moment.

So full, this bottle of wine had to come out to make way for dessert.

Halfway through the second glass, my face is flushed and the refrigerator was rearranged again to accommodate the bottle's return. I love that wine glass but I'd be better off using it with diet Coke.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and Happy Three or More Thursday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blues for a bedroom

Here we are at the last Monday in November already. How did that happen? Today's subject is one of my works in progress, transforming my son's room into a guest room. I've spent so much time working on things for his house and on Christmas projects, this room was sitting neglected. It is far from finished, but at least it no longer looks like a cell with only a bare bed in it. There is furniture to the right of where I stood while taking this picture. The dark thing in the lower left is the top of a TV.

The batteries in my camera are dying and I rushed these shots to make this post. Hopefully within a few months I will have this room looking as pictured in my mind and new photos will make a more interesting Blue Monday. I have one more pillow in mind, a bolster, made in the rose print.

Here is a closeup of the valance with a more accurate showing of the fabric colors.

I'd love to keep working on this room, but I need to concentrate on holiday projects before coming back here. We don't really need a guest room, and now we have two, both with twin beds in them. I am being optimistic that there are daughters-in-law and grandchildren in my future, and one day a grandchild may nap either on this bed or in a crib placed in this room.

A girl can always dream, right?

For more Blue Monday posts, please visit Smiling Sally.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turkeys before Santas

I admit to having the urge to start decorating for Christmas, especially after seeing so many lovely displays in blogland, but I can't possibly bring out Santas and trees until after Thanksgiving. My turkeys and pilgrims would be incensed! If you move your cursor over the slideshow, you can stop it and advance pictures one by one.

*Note* I have changed the template to my blog since originally posting this slideshow. To view the pictures in their full width, please click on View All Images.

The glass shelves are in a niche between my living room and kitchen. The buildings on them are from Brandywine . The majority of wood, resin or ceramic turkeys are a piece of furniture that was my mom's, something we have always called the room divider. The base is a cabinet that holds (hides?) stuff, and the shelves display cobalt glassware, framed photos, or holiday items depending on the season or my whim. The stuffed (non edible stuffing!) turkeys are in the two bay windows of our family room. Little kids (and me!) love to squeeze the small turkey that gobbles or the one in the straw hat that sings Turkey in the Straw over and over. And over.

The best turkey of all will be the one at my sister-in-law's house this year because I WON'T BE COOKING IT!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blog questions

What brought you to the world of blogging? How did you decide on your look? Did you set out to write mainly about one subject and if so, have you been successful?

Miz Smoochie had the first blog that I read regularly, back in the days of her earlier journal. We had belonged to the same message board once upon a time. Finding her new blog reunited me with a few other women from that board. After my card making teacher, Andrea, started blogging, I decided to try it too.

Writing and reading blogs must be the modern day equivalent to women talking to their neighbors, back when most women were home during the day. More than once I am struck by the contradiction of telling our kids not to talk to strangers yet we blog to people we aren't likely to meet. Do you have privacy issues? Do you allow search engines to find your blog? I don't currently, and am not sure if would make much difference.

I read blogs and am inspired by content and layout. I use Blogger because that is what the authors I first read used. If you are using Word Press, Live Journal or another host, how did you choose it? Does anyone else have a test blog that others never see? I try out things that that I am not sure will work. I like three column layouts on other blogs but when I tried it on my test site, I thought it looked too busy. Do you have a great discovery that has enhanced your posting in any way? Is there something that you've seen but haven't been able to master yet?

Some days the news of the world is too frustrating. The blogs that I visit offer a healthy antidote whether they know it or not. Whatever you look like as you are reading this, perhaps with your favorite hot beverage,

please know that I salute you and enjoy hearing from you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buttons, buttons, buttons

This post fits into Tam's Three or More Thursday theme. Click on the logo on the right for more information or use this link: The Gypsy's Corner

Like many people who work with fabric, yarn and jewelry, I like buttons. Here are three examples of what to do with buttons besides using them as closures. First we have a ivory colored sweatshirt that was embellished with green embroidery floss and a variety of white buttons (and one yellow star button) attached with red floss.

My sewing/craft room was formerly a bedroom with dark stain on the bi-fold closet doors. When it first became my room to use, I had hopes of changing the doors so I didn't bother using a stain sealer and paint on them. Instead, I camouflaged some of the doors' imperfections with novelty buttons hot glued to the door. It became such a conversation piece, we never did replace the doors.

I looked for a battery operated clock for that room but didn't find anything that I liked. The buttons on the doors worked so well, why not use them on a clock? This clock was originally painted to look like a baseball. It was in the clearance bin for $2. A few coats of white acrylic paint covered up the baseball seams and buttons were glued on for the numerals. The thread, needle, spool, pins and thimble are a combination of Pigma pen, paint and a Sharpie marker. The words near the minute hand are "It's time to sew".

If you hear of that child's game of long ago "Button, button, who's got the button" rest assured...I have it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blue Quilts

Here we are at the second Monday in November already, and another Blue Monday hosted by Smiling Sally.

My fondness for blue carries throughout many of the quilts I've made. Looking back through my photos, even I am surprised at how blue has prevailed. Here is the wall quilt that started it all. A local quilt shop held classes taught by talented friend. It is hand pieced and quilted.

I've made many variations on this quilt which is machine embroidered and pieced. Some were machine quilted, others by hand, but all done with simple outline quilting. I've also made it in red and white and in black and white.

Closeups of a few of the blocks
One of the blocks and a view of the backing

The next two quilts are both Winnie the Pooh, but different styles of Winnie. This pattern is called Tumbling Blocks and the images are Peek-a-boo Pooh. The mommy who received this was decorating the nursery in Peek-a-boo Pooh items. I bought a sheet and cut it up for sides of the block.

This quilt features Classic Pooh. The characters are from earlier (maybe original?) Winnie the Pooh illustrations. Once again, a crib sheet was used for the block centers as commercial fabric wasn't available in Classic Pooh.

My husband doesn't often react to anything I make, probably because he sees so much over the years. This quilt was going to be a gift for someone else until he took a strong liking to it. The pattern is Split Rail Fence, using five prints in white, light, medium and dark gray, and black in the blocks. The only blue is in the first border, but the blue adds a lot to the quilt.

This small wall quilt was recently and begrudgingly put away until next summer. The sky has been gray all day and we have a layer of snow on everything. There is beauty in each season, but it is much easier to see when the sun is shining.

Happy Blue Monday everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What a week!

Our son has been in his home for two months and hosted his first party last night. This past week my husband and I spent quite a few evenings helping him finish up projects. Some only required another pair of hands. Some required Bill's tools and expertise (insert the Tim Allen grunt from Home Improvement here) and some were purely my own doing.

With budget in mind, and the fact that some things will change as money allows (such as new windows on either side of the fireplace with built in blinds for privacy) I spent the week sewing window treatments and embellishing existing ones. This photo shows the inexpensive microsuede panels hanging on tension rods that have served him since moving in.

The color is off a bit in this next photo, but it shows the batik fabric I used to make a pillow cover that he really liked.

That fabric was then used to make a curtain for a smaller window, lined with plain beige fabric. Not one single window in his house is a standard size for blinds, shades or curtains.

I added a 3" and 5" strip of the fabric to the microsuede drapes to tie the look together as this is all the same room.

This was done by Thursday night, along with a valance for his kitchen window (not photographed yet) and a window treatment for his half bath that is near his back door. He and his friends use the backyard quite a bit and while the window is high enough for privacy, it bothered him that a man's head is visible while standing at the toilet. While we were at Joann's picking out curtain rods, I found a white on white sheer that I thought would make a good panel between tension rods in his bathroom. The fabric was too pretty to densely shirr on the rod though. Here it is on my sewing room counter.

He'll be adding a frosted window covering to the glass and enjoying this as is. I used the leftover fabric to make a wall hanging. I bought an inexpensive 16x20 inch stretched canvas, stretched and stapled a bright blue fabric over it, then stretched this fabric on top. Until he paints that room, there is at least some color and a point of interest in there.

I thought I was done and could not concentrate on what appetizer I would fix for his Saturday night party. As I was leaving on Thursday, he asked if I could print the photos that are in the frame on the couch in the third picture. No problem....except the frame openings are all landscape orientation and many of the house photos I had were portrait. Well heck, why not make a little scrapbook for him as a surprise?

This shows the almost finished project. More embellishments were added along with some photos that I managed to crop and fit in. This "little" surprise took over 12 hours from start to finish and required fast food for dinner.
Click to play New home scrapbook

Finally...I was done and we could rest a bit on the day of the party, right?

Ha! After at least 24 hours of rain, our son had water coming up the drains in his basement. I'll spare you the long story. The good news is that it was fixable (almost $300 and many hours of mopping and drying) and we all had time to shower and change before his guests arrived and a good time was had by all.

Welcome to the world of home ownership, baby boy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's talk turkey

Dawn at Because I Said So Reviews posted this a few days ago and I've been smiling over turkey memories ever since.

I don't think that my husband and his brother particularly love turkey, but it is written somewhere that both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners must be turkey feasts. My sister-in-law and I haven't seen this 11th Commandment, but we've never seen the first ten with our own eyes either and yet we believe and act in good faith. Besides, after 30-some years of doing this with the only difference being which one of us hosts which holiday, the meal is almost cooked on auto-pilot.

The excitement and wonder isn't about what will be cooked, but about what may happen during the process of getting dinner on the table.

We've had birds with pop-up buttons designed to signal they were done that never popped.

I cooked a bird that must have been an albino. It was done and delicious, but that dang bird would NOT brown.

My sister-in-law was concerned one stressful year that there wasn't going to be enough meat to feed everyone. As we stared at the bony bird in the electric roaster, my husband began to laugh. The bird was in breast side down and we were staring at its back. We have since learned that some people purposely roast their birds upside down because the white meat stays moist that way.

My brother-in-law worked holidays for many years. One holiday dinner at their house, my sister-in-law and I were finishing up side dishes, while her adult daughter and my husband were tackling the turkey. My niece was going to remove the stuffing and arrange the meat on a platter while my husband carved. My sister-in-law had a carving board that fit over the sink. That shy turkey did not want anyone digging in its cavities, much less taking a knife to it. It skidded off the cutting board, down the counter and onto the floor in a split second! The four of us in the kitchen all gasped, looked at each other in shock, and then burst into laughter when Bill said "five second rule!" and put the turkey back on the carving board.

Our dinner time manners are not stuffy, but a certain degree of decorum is understood and expected. One year our oldest son invited his girlfriend to the meal. She seemed nice, but our son was never himself around her. It wasn't about being polite for company, it was about "putting on airs" as my mother used to say. There were 24 for us dinner that year, seated around two folding banquet tables set up in the family room with my husband at the head of one table and his brother at the opposite end. The basket of rolls were near my husband when his brother asked someone to please pass the rolls. Totally against his usual behavior, Bill took a roll, cocked his arm and told his brother to "go long" as he hurled the roll to the other end of the table. That was another instance of a gasp followed by laughter. "Go long" is still talked about at holiday dinners even though the actual pass has not been repeated.

Many of these episodes have been immortalized on a tablecloth I started years ago. This photo is years old and there is much more on it now. It is a twin white sheet that was hemmed to fit the table we had the time this tradition began. Our guests sign the tablecloth, some just signing their name, others writing poems or commenting on the turkey's appearance. The first few times I brought this out, some of the adults were hesitant to sign. Now everyone looks forward to reading comments from over twenty years ago. When I leave this earth, this may be the one thing people fight over inheriting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blue Monday again

Time for another installment of Blue Monday hosted by Smiling Sally.

I don't have a theme to today's collection of photos, only blueness unites them. First is my Star Sapphire ring. The ring originally was just the stone set in a plain white gold setting, very plain, but it was very popular when I was 16. This was one of the first pieces of jewelry that led to my lifelong addiction. It was a birthday gift from mom and dad. As the way of teenagers and young adults, I stopped wearing it when it fell out of fashion, but kept it for sentimental reasons. Many years later my mom died and I inherited her wedding rings, but couldn't bear to wear them. A few years afterward I had the two diamonds taken from her rings and set on either side of my stone in a new setting. The "star" is noticeable in bright light (the camera flash in this case), otherwise the ring looks like a plain blue stone. The ring means a lot to me now and I wear it often.
Here is my car, Hermione Henrietta Runabout. She is a Chevy HHR. My husband had the line of stitching and sew needles added to both sides of the car for me. He is a sweetie. The car was originally named Hector, but when he became "the stitch-mobile", the men in my family decided a gender change had occurred and a new name was necessary. Hermione gets a lot of attention and positive comments.
I never have luck when I go to the Salvation Army or similar thrift stores. This may not have been true a few years ago when I was more likely to bring home anything that caught my eye, but I am trying to declutter my life. Trust me, the cabinets and closets remain full, but I am not starting new collections. At least not while my resolve holds. Last week I was in a Home Goods store and did not put dozens of items in my cart that were so cute, but I did come home these mugs and plate. I have two dinner, lunch/salad plates and two bowls that are white with black trim. The black and white cups needed, really needed to join them, especially when they were less than $3. (Did my resolve waver just a bit?) The plate with blue shamrocks and a gold rim was the only one like it or I would have bought more of them. It cost a whole dollar!
And lastly, this magazine cover makes me feel good. Not only does it address my blue addiction, there is my blue and white dish addiction, general china addition, and the touch of yellow makes it absolutely perfect!
Happy Blue Monday everyone!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fine art? No, just some humorous truth

This past week I purged my magazine basket and a shelf that had an overload of craft and cooking magazines. Craft ideas are filed by type of craft in folders in a cabinet, recipes go into page protectors in a binder. I am more likely to get back to things this way than trying to remember which magazine had the recipe or wonder why I am saving a knitting magazine with the ugly sweater on the cover.

I don't often buy Mary Englebreit's magazine, but I do love her illustrations. I saved this page, mounted it first on black paper to hide the print on the other side of the page, then onto the checked paper, yellow and black again. Even though I love a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, there comes a point in fixing a huge meal for a crowd where the look on this lady's face is all too familiar to most of us.

Happy weekend wishes to everyone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stop that! You'll go blind!

No, I wasn't doing anything that would have embarrassed my mother, but I did experience eye strain yesterday.

I have had mixed results (and mixed feelings) with the glass ornaments, paints and alcohol inks so I moved on to something else. Here are the paint and ink bulbs:

The two dark ornaments (1st and 3rd photos) have a combination of paints poured inside and a combination of inks on the exterior. The rust colored ornament in the first photo has glitter powder inside and ultrafine glitter on the exterior. The snowflake ornament has dark red glitter inside and dimensional paint on the outside for the snowflakes with ultrafine glitter added. The purple bulb is alcohol ink inside and a bit of silver alcohol ink on the outside. The gold looking bulb in the third photo is alcohol ink applied to a champagne colored bulb. In the fourth photo, one bulb had white paint poured inside and a combo of inks on the outside. A little Easter eggish? The other bulb has red and white paint inside which dried streaky so I added glitter to the outside. The fifth and sixth photos are the same ornaments, but they look very different when light comes through them as opposed to sitting on a solid background. I used butterscotch colored alcohol ink inside those three, adding white paint to one. I added butterscotch and copper inks to the exterior because the inside paint dried streaky.

I have no idea why I am having such bad luck with streaky paint inside the bulbs. You can see the streakiness in the red and white bulb in photo #4. The paint is not old, has been shaken and I've tried both the bulbs as they come out of the package and cleaning them out with denatured alcohol and letting them dry for two days before pouring paint. I like the sheerness of the alcohol inks, but don't think those ornaments, especially the dark colors, will show up against a green tree.

The next ornament was started a few days ago and finished last night. It is beaded with size 11 beads.

The directions for finishing the bottom were crappy, so I fudged it. Sometimes fudging things is what I do best. Here is what the bead netting looked like before completion:

Here's the happy little group shot before they go in a box for a month or so

But wait, I still wasn't done. Before cleaning up my mess (there is ultrafine glitter throughout the house...I bet it is even on my toothbrush upstairs!), I decided to put two quick bracelets together. The first one is on memory wire and is Christmasy because of the colors.

This one is just because I like blue, in all shades.

Thankfully, there is no sign of eyestrain this morning, but I will wait a few days before beading another Christmas ornament.

If anyone has hints for my paint dilemma or has done bead netting over an ornament, I'd love to hear your advice.