Friday, December 31, 2010

....And....

Happy New Year!!!

Let us send out the old year old with a misty eye, and welcome the new year with open arms and lots of ideas, hopes, and goodwill to all.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy, successful, and happy 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buttoned up


Hi, what’cha doing?


Not much, just ironing this drop cloth. The heavy one.


That’s what my sister heard when she called last week. She thought I was a bit off, ironing a painter’s drop cloth. So I explained to her that I would be using it for a (very) heavyweight curtain to help keep out the cold from the sliding door to my deck.

I did decide to put up the shrinkable plastic on the inside of the door to seal out drafts. It pulled tight and clear. I’ve used this stuff on windows many times over the years and found the best procedure is to affix the top, bottom, and sides, in that order. Wielding a huge piece of plastic was easy when following the same routine. I left my vertical blinds up since that is safer than storing the six foot plastic slats anywhere else. Over all that is this drop cloth drapery, hanging from a $5 sash rod. The rod is just barely perceptible without the cloth so I’ll leave it up when winter is through.

And what results did I achieve from all this? I can now sit comfortably at the kitchen counter in the morning, drinking coffee and reading news online. It’s still cool because the thermostat is turned down, but it’s not c.o.l.d. or drafty. I’ve sat here listening to the wind howling out there on one particular morning without even a shiver.






Total cost: $25.00 – with leftover material. There are too many variables between one winter and the next to know whether it will make a difference on my usage of heating fuel, but my comfort level has improved.

The bay window in the living room may also get a treatment.


And those fold lines and wrinkles? They don't all iron out. But, then again, what does? ;)


Have a wonderful (warm) day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Done, and done!


I didn't meet my expectations to get all the culinary gifts completed for gifting this season but, in retrospect, I think my expectations were too high. I will save the recipes for homemade fudge and caramels for next year. I did, however, make a quick batch of Avalanche Bark from Your Home Based Mom as quick gifts for some co-workers. This candy is gooood, with a peanut butter cup kinda taste. Mmmmmmm. (Note: I renamed it 'Reindeer Nuggets' and signed the zipper baggies from Dancer, Prancer, Blitzen, etc. It was well appreciated :)


I finished and wrapped the scarflet for my friend and hope she likes it. I used a vintage button for the closure. The Homespun yarn is definitely something I'll use again for future gifts. I love the soft, new-kitten feel to it.




So all the holiday cards and long distance packages were shipped last week, the co-workers have been gifted, and all that's left is to wrap my mother's gifts and get ready for dinner on Christmas Eve with family. I'm anxious for the Christmas Day phone calls to my grandchildren to hear their happy voices tell about all their treasures :) It is a wonderful season, made special by family and friends, and especially you, out there. Thank you for stopping by. I'm hoping you are ready to sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy a mid-winters nap ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Night and day

Older New England towns have a wonderful custom of setting up a beautiful Christmas tree on the town green, or using an existing tree in town that can be decorated each year. Below is a picture taken of a local tree, decorated in only white lights. It's quite pretty, in it's simple way, when driving home from work.









But is really what it seems to be?



Or is it something else?











It is a tree sculpture made from recycled items, including flattened oil drums. It certainly has put the "green" in the holiday tree! The main tree trunk seems to be a recycled utility pole. I'm enjoying it, and hope you do, too.


Friday, December 17, 2010

After hours


(Come back on Monday for more about this tree!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scarflets

The long tails of my scarf that would inevitably unwrap from around my neck while my arms were full would get me frustrated. I've even had one flapping behind me while treading to the car in mid winter, loaded down with groceries. It certainly wasn't keeping my neck warm.

Two winters back I was cruising through knitting and crocheting blogs (oh, happy place, the internet:) and found some instructions for scarflets, which are short scarves that button, or otherwise hook, around your neck. They easily tuck into your coat and keep your neck cozy warm. I used yarn from a thrifted green sweater to make one for myself and found that I wear it more than any other scarf that I own. It's gotten a bit shabby now and I'll probably make a replacement sometime this winter. Or next.





Here are some photos of scarflets, and also some links to blogs with instructions for making one. There are some beauties out there.

Bella Knitting

Red Threads

Adventures in Running and Crafting

Dollar Store Crafts



Get your crafting on!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Exhale

Sometimes you just have to wade through the muck. I'm still wading but for now, let's move on to some good stuff.



Like doggie treats!






These were a good work out (rolling thick dough) but fun. After cooling they hardened up considerably. I hope my doggie friends will be able to chew them!


I lost the link but here's the recipe:


3/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour

In large bowl pour hot water over the margarine. Stir in powdered milk, salt, and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Knead for a few minutes to form stiff dough. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into bone shapes. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool. They will dry out quite hard. Makes about 1.25 lbs of biscuits, much more than you see in the photo above.

(Note: I will look for the link again to give proper credit to the original author.)




And granola...




I made a larger batch so I could divide it between two recipients and added a sprinkling of pistachios. I love this because the only sweetness is from the bananas and dates.


I added a scarflet to my list of gifts. This is for my biking friend, after she admired the one I wear. She wears jewel-like colors well, so the purple and emerald in this yarn will suit her. It should be finished by Thursday. Love working with large needles :)


Now, on the home front....

Last weekend I gathered (or tried to gather) one common mallow (don't fret - it's not on a protected list). This is the plant my grandmother used to dry, then boil with fruits for a cold remedy. The plants have a VERY tough, woody, strong root, and with the ground being semi-frozen from our early freeze I could not pull it out. It broke off just below the surface of the soil. I am drying as much of it as possible and set the large section of root in a pot of water. The small leaves attached near the base have remained bright green and healthy.




I will post updates about how this goes.

It's Wednesday! Have a great one!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pause

Murphy has stopped by to bestow upon me every trick in his book. It didn't seem too bad until the thumping noise started whenever I put pressure on the brakes. That's when the knot in my stomach grew larger.



Please excuse me for a short bit while I get things under control.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Breakfast

...probably my most favorite meal, even if it's just oatmeal with honey and cinnamon.



But


I've got a few tricks up my sleeve (or, on my plate.)




I didn't take a picture, but this recipe is soooo good! I shortcut it a bit, because I have organic pancake mix on hand. I added a large scoop of pureed squash, a bunch of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves), and enough milk to thin to desired consistency (I skipped the egg.) I enjoyed the most heavenly pancakes topped with real maple syrup (is there any other kind?) Thank you, Karly, for this idea!


I routinely make my own granola from a favorite recipe that is sweetened by dates and bananas, which are pureed with vanilla and a little water. But after my current batch is finished I'll be making this one. milk n cookiezzz is written by a fifteen year old girl who knows her spatulas from her whisks :) You'll enjoy looking through the recipes she has posted. (Great photos, too!)


I do have one photo to share. This recipe is from the 80's, copied from a magazine, and adapted. It's a very dense banana bread with a twist - caraway seeds. (The original recipe called for anise seeds.) It's a drier bread that carries butter very well ;)






(The second loaf was very quickly put in the freezer.)



Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Anyway Project, One Small Change, and frugality in general



Along with the goals I’m working towards for the upcoming holidays listed in yesterday’s post for One Small Change, I’m working towards restructuring my lifestyle to be less focused on the influences of “modern” life by following Sharon Astyk’s The Anyway Project. My interpretation of this project is how you value things, how you let objects draw from your monetary and emotional reserves, and what you are willing to forego to reach a happy balance, all while considering what your actions do to the resources on the planet. (Pretty deep, and maybe off-target from the Project’s intentions, but that is my personal reading of it.) This month was spent just scratching the surface of what needs to be adjusted. Having seven areas for improvement seemed like an easy task. Daily commitments however, such as work, have an impact on this. This is where I stand after one month.

Domestic Infrastructure:
Additions are slowly being made to my small kitchen "pantry". I search the store flyers for storable items when I prepare my grocery list. Rest assured, I do not drive around to all the stores. I pick the one that will give me the best deal for that week and shop carefully, no impulse buys. After all, saving two dollars is a moot point when the trade off is four dollars in extra gas. (Please note that since I live in a city, where there are many grocery stores near me. It is almost silly that Stop and Shop has a store one-half mile from me heading either north or west!) Also, since one of my goals is to drive less, I combine stops into one trip or forego the item.

Household Economy:
I’ve updated my old budget spreadsheet. Limits have been set in all categories and I’ve determined how much to set aside each month for emergencies. I've scheduled an automatic transfer from my paycheck into a short-term savings account to build a reserve for property taxes.
I reviewed the allocations in my 401K. One fund wasn’t living up to expectations, so I researched the other funds and found a suitable replacement. (Something that needed to be done, anyway.)

Resource Consumption:
Regarding my drafty windows – I’ve seen a few online photos from folks who have restyled drop cloths into draperies. Considering their weight (thickness) and blocking drafts, I think this will fit my needs and my budget. I just need an inexpensive rod to hold the weight. Also, this week the plastic will go on my bedroom window after the forecasted unusual 60+ degree Wednesday.
Energy, in general - folks who have been reading my posts may remember that I have extensively cut back on energy usage, eliminating a television and the cable provider, using power cords on appliances, and replaced very old appliances, among other things.
Driving – for the next three weeks I’m tracking exactly how many miles I drive, and where (or why). I’m also asking myself “Do I really need to go there?” for each trip.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence:
I’ve gathered all the vintage items that I want to sell and I’m trying to source a consignment shop in this area.

Family and Community:
A nearby town is hosting a holiday evening on Dec 3rd, and I've asked a co-worker to join me. Also, the company holiday gathering is later in December.
I’ll be watching for the continuing ed flyers for the evening classes that start in January.

Outside Work:
Find ways to improve my workflow/workload – asked supervisor if a temporary worker in another office could help with a current project.

Time and Happiness:
Maybe something in the continuing ed classes?

There is much more to be done. Being much less dependent on that paycheck and being prepared for emergencies means starting now.






Monday, November 29, 2010

One Small Change (for the holidays) update

Today's One Small Change post will partner nicely with tomorrow's post regarding updates on my following of The Anyway Project. But, rather than get a step ahead, here's what I've worked on this month for my One Small Change of holiday gifts with minimal waste of resources.

My homemade vanilla is coloring nicely. The two bottles are gifts that will be delivered in January.

I completed one knitted gift. (Only one this year.)

A furry friend will be getting homemade doggie biscuits from a recipe that I found online.

The candy recipes that I will be making two weeks from now have been finalized. (All baking and cooking is scheduled close enough to "gifting" time so everything will be as fresh as possible.)

I have made deposits into educational savings accounts.

Some will be receiving restaurant certificates and movie passes.

And, for the practical gift, maybe some (store bought) union suits or great wool socks.


Be sure to stop over at Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change site to see what everyone has been doing! Newcomers are always welcome to join in!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Permanent

I so wanted to drop the comment moderation. As a blog visitor, it is more pleasant to have a comment appear when written. As a blog host, it is a constant concern that a comment is waiting moderation. None the less, it seems that I have to enable comment moderation permanently as a spam blocker. Considering we are working in a free medium to share our thoughts, it is but a small bump in the road.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Aftermath

I've eaten more turkey and stuffing leftovers, taken a few naps, and watched the eager early shoppers on this morning's news programs. Frequent yawning is about all the activity I can manage, although I might make a cup of tea and do some reading tonight. I've definitely had too much food and not enough activity this Thanksgiving.

Around 2 o'clock this afternoon I wandered into a few stores, even though the only item on my list was a pack of coffee filters. It was shocking to see the mess left behind by those early bird shoppers. After seeing clothing lying on the floor, display racks in the middle of what once were aisles, and toys taken out of boxes, I'm glad I wasn't around when the madness was at its peak.

Tomorrow I'll get up, shake myself awake, and bake some cookies. The break is over and it's time to get things back to normal. There are cards to write and presents to finish. I just hope I don't need to go into another store this weekend ;)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eureka!

"Is this it?" I asked as I handed it to her. She raised her glasses with one hand and squinted her 91+ year old eyes to see what she held in the other hand. "Yes. Yes. That's it. Where was it?" "It was right where you said it was, except across the street. Now that no one is mowing anymore, I saw it."

Heaven knows that in my time on this earth and growing up in that town, I've been on that road hundreds, if not thousands, of times. And all that time, this plant was growing there, defiantly withstanding lawn mowers each summer. Now that the mowing has ceased for yet another winter, the low spreading leaves of the Common Mallow were easy to spot as I drove by.

Success! This was my greatest triumph. So often I feel like I'm racing against the clock, trying to solve mysteries for my mother and myself while she is still with us.

The plant from her memories still exists, as it did 60 years ago when my grandmother made cold remedies from it. I carefully placed the leaf in my mother's Woman's Home Companion Cook Book (1946), which she had given to me several years ago.






Elusive, still, is the sweet cicely and the "bread and butter" tree she speaks of, whose leaves she would stack in threes and chew, as one would a sandwich. Perhaps that discovery is for another day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Taking time to be thankful

Taking time during the most hectic part of the year to reflect on people we take for granted.



The people who operate shelters for the homeless

Those who give their time to work at "kitchens" to feed the less fortunate

Anyone who organizes food drives, and all who contribute

Workers helping handicapped patients, regardless if the infirmity is physical or mental

Families who will take in a child in trouble

Regular folk who take time from their busy schedule to help build or rehab housing

Moms and Dads who lead scout troops

Anyone who donates their time to 4H

Folks working/running large farms, for the hard work they do to put food on our table

Folks running small farms organically, whether certified or not, because they believe in it

Our troops and national guard, all of them, wherever they are

Parents who help at their childrens' schools

School crossing guards who make sure our children get to school safely

All the volunteers who stand out by the red kettle in the cold, wet, snowy weather to ring the bell and thank US for our donation



I'm sure you can think of ones I haven't listed. This year please keep them all in your thoughts when you give thanks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flour, oil, and water

By now you know that I love to experiment in the kitchen. I get a kick out of tossing in a handful of seeds into bread that I 'm kneading. By making my own granola, I can avoid sweeteners. And trying a simple, new recipe can make me smile. So Sunday night I took some flour, oil, and water and followed the instructions in The Garden of Earthly Delights Cookbook by Shea MacKenzie to make tortillas. I'm sure a lot of you are really good at making them but it's something that I had never thought to try, what with relatively inexpensive ones in the refrigerated case at the grocery stores.




I loved how the bubbles formed as these were cooking on the cast iron skillet. And the flour gave off that wonderful "nutty" aroma.

I made half the recipe which gave me 12 tortillas, each 8- to 10-inches across. 11 of them are already in the freezer. The last one is going to wrap a scrambled egg for my breakfast.

Play with your food! Have some fun :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Step by step by step

It was a long week, coming home from work in the dark after turning the clocks back last Sunday. It's taking time to reset my internal clock after being on my own schedule while I was homebound. (It only seems like each day has less than 24 hours.) But I've made use of the evening hours by going through my checkbook entries for 2010 to set up next year’s spreadsheet for my budget. I've used this particular one in the past with great success and have confidence in being able to follow it again.

After doing my arm exercises for the day and sitting with the ice pack on my shoulder, I work on my plans for the holidays. I’ve flagged some candy recipes to make for gift packages this year. These are from an older book that I have used before, Homemade Candy by the Food Editors of Farm Journal, from 1970. The directions are clear and inviting. Their homemade marshmallow recipe is sooooo good.

I also completed the first present for the holidays. But I'm not telling who the recipient will be in case word gets out ;)



My in-process vanilla is starting to turn dark. These will be hand-delivered in January, once they've been packaged in pretty jars.



I’ve also started checking grocery store flyers online for filling my mini-pantry. I won’t waste gas by driving from store to store, but will judge the sales each week to see where I can save the most, based on my personal needs/use. I’m planning on a six month supply of non-perishables, including canned goods and bulk bin items that I regularly use (nuts, grains, etc.) Luckily, one of the stores near my workplace has the best buys this week. I’ll drop by before work on Monday, and fill the car at a gas station with lower prices while I’m there.

And, perhaps the most important duty of all, I replaced the battery in my smoke alarm. Have you?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Anyway Project

Back in the sixties we were told that modern living through technology would make our lives better by easing workloads and giving us more "free" time, yet today we are scurrying more and enjoying less. It seems that we are on the proverbial hamster wheel, trying to keep up from day to day. By sitting at a workstation all day we now need to schedule time for exercise, something that would have amused our parents and grandparents. For those of us who grew up before answering machines, being "connected" 24/7 is physically and mentally draining. Taping television programs that we might miss only creates another taxing obligation on our time, for having to watch them in the future when we should be doing something else. Welcome to modern living through technology.

Like so many others, I have looked for ways to reduce my spending, my use of resources, and my commitments so that I could enjoy a less hectic lifestyle. Over the years I have tried "no spending" time frames and challenges to use less. I have budgeted. It works, up to a point.

Last week the little light bulb (CFL, of course) went on in my head when I read Sharon Astyk's post about the Anyway Project. The title referring to the way we should live, anyway. (Love the logic in that.) Her post from this past Tuesday goes on to explain the different aspects of the project. It puts it all together. Through her project, everything I've tried to do piecemeal gets connected as a whole including a few areas that I had not explored, such as Community. After reading her posts and the reader comments a few times I've developed my own list of goals to make my life more sustainable. In joining this group (I’m not thinking of it as a challenge), I am setting goals to accomplish in each of the following categories.

Domestic Infrastructure:
Since I don’t have the luxury of a pantry room, I will create a list of basic provisions (dried beans, etc) and purchase what I can store in the kitchen cupboard that I emptied during last years “clear out”. The stored foods will be the basics for meal planning, hoping to return to the food storage, meal-planning lifestyle from years back.

Household Economy:
A few years ago I found an amazing excel budget spreadsheet online, which I tweaked to fit my needs. It worked great for the year that I used it, showing me all my spending habits and where I needed to make changes. I will pull up the old copy and update it for my current needs.

Resource Consumption:
First, I need to reduce unnecessary short driving trips.
Second, I need to address the drafty windows in my condo. Last winter I used the plastic that is applied indoors with a hair dryer. I can combine this with window quilts, which other participants mentioned.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence:
I need to find an outlet for the vintage items that I have accumulated, possibly through eBay or etsy. Then explore a possible cottage industry to supplement my primary income.

Family and Community:
I tend to become an indoor person during the winter months, but need to find group activities for the next few months. I’ll research events held at the public libraries near me for this.

Outside Work:
I have an intense and demanding job, which can cause stress and the need for “decompression” time. I’d like to find ways to improve my workflow/workload.

Time and Happiness:
I’d like to find time for relaxation (possibly yoga?) to even out my lifestyle, and return to a regular exercise routine.


I may have to fine tune these, or provide more detail. You may want to follow along or even join in. Here’s the link to Sharon’s blog. Right now I’m off to look for and update that old excel spreadsheet.



Please take time on Thursday, November 11th, to remember our veterans!
Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Even chocolate mistakes

....can be good!





Oh, how we wander across the interwebs! During yesterdays trip through the 'net I stumbled upon a recipe for Cocoa No Knead Bread posted on Juls' Kitchen. Her descriptive writing was too much for my willpower, so I set out to bake one.


Her recipe is not in my accustomed U.S. measurements, so I used one of my favorite sites, onlineconversion.com. We were warned about the coming metric system in Home Ec class back in the sixties but that knowledge has fallen by the wayside. So, with a little online help I guesstimated the weights, volumes, and oven temperature.


My second setback was not having enough flour. I substituted half with whole wheat flour. It was a gamble, I know, but I really wanted to try this bread after reading about it. I also goofed by not pre-mixing the dry ingredients before adding the wet ones (thus, the swirl effect in the bread.)


End result: Mmmmmm! I don't know whether to dab on some butter or run out for a jar of marshmallow topping. But even plain - it goes good with a cup of tea.


Stretch your culinary limits! It doesn't have to be fois gras.


After this one is gone, I'll be trying one of the Banana breads that Mug suggested the other day. Bananas are on my grocery list.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Everybody's doing it

Yes, I'm a little late to the party, but I'm doing it, too! Inspired by so many bloggers (especially Rob), I started a batch of vanilla.






I picked up Madagascar beans from Penzys today and used vodka that was already on hand. This batch won't be ready until sometime in February, which is fine because it won't be delivered to the giftees until later in January*. I'll hand deliver it along with details for letting it mature and how to use the beans for vanilla sugar. Their participation in the process will be part of the "gift" ;)

I hope your holiday gifting plans are well underway. As with everything else, planning is the key to avoid wastefulness!



* I'll be travelling up north for a very late holiday celebration due to work commitments and health. I'm sure I'll enjoy the drive much more by waiting a few extra weeks. But I'll be sending some homemade goodies up there in December ;)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

envy

I had never used anything like this yarn, which I found over a year ago at a second hand store. My projects were always utilitarian, made from old fashioned worsted, because my skills don't justify the expense of fancier yarns. But the cost of this soft blue wool was reasonable enough to take a chance, and the six small skeins would probably be enough to make a nice scarf. But the yarn sat in a storage tote while I knitted and crocheted with worsted again last year.




Last week I decided to stop making excuses and just use it. I had bookmarked a pretty scarf made by the Selfish Seamstress, which she appropriately called the "envy scarf". The directions seemed straightforward, so I cast on and started knitting....and knitting....and...






It takes me a little more concentration to use this type of yarn and the lacy effect is not as pronounced as it would be with a plain yarn, but I really like the "nubby" texture. I've got about 12 inches done and with another 30 or so to go, I'll have a gift ready for the holidays. Shhhh, don't tell!


P.S. My November and December goals for Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change Challenge are to make this a handmade holiday season, while keeping my use of resources down to a minimum. I'll be upcycling as much as possible!



Sunday, October 31, 2010

One Small Change (getting back on track)

In October I went off-track BIG time, as far as Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change Challenge. I actually planned to break my rules in preparation to anticipated limitations. I bought a roll of paper towels, paper plates, bowls, and a few convenience foods (little fish shaped crackers shouldn't even be considered food.) My biggest sin was bringing the electric coffee maker out of storage.

As with any indiscretion, the end result wasn't enjoyable.

Yes, it made life easy. But the coffee didn't taste as good as the cold-brew I had grown accustomed to. The increase in trash accumulation from paper goods and convenience foods shocked me. And I've yet to see the electric bill.

Friday morning I filled a mason jar with water and ground coffee, and put it in the fridge. I stowed away the rest of the paper goods for emergency use only. The coffeemaker has been washed out and repacked, and there are no more store-bought "goodies" in the house. It's time to get back on track. If it takes something like 60 days for an action to become a habit, the actions I had taken last spring are now the "norm" for me.

I'm headed over to One Small Change. Want to tag along?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Therapy options

I poke around my small condo, rinse out a few things, wash up dishes, go for walks, and have too many snack breaks. Lacking any cakes or crackers in the house and wanting something to do, I decided to make a batch of lavosh. After all, kneading the soft dough would be like a mini-therapy session, wouldn't it?




These may be gone by Saturday. I've been sneaking a few already.



My physical therapy evaluation went well today. The therapist got me extending further than I had expected and she assigned a lot of homework! - followed by my trusty ice pak :)


Today's walk to the library was over a multi-colored carpet of beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. Yesterday's rain brought down most of the leaves, and the trees are now almost completely in their winter skins. What a difference a day makes!


Even though I want to be back at work, I am enjoying seeing the subtle changes this season. Usually, I only see this passing by my car windshield. I certainly have missed a lot!


Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your weekend contains some time to be outside where you can notice something you hadn't seen before.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Housewives' Quilt (it has begun!)

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes you just don't feel it. Sometimes you expect it to be more. And sometimes it just tells you that you've been trying too hard.

I wanted to make a gloriously beautiful quilt from the vintage housedresses and aprons that I've gathered as an homage to the women who wore them, but the details wouldn't form in my mind's eye. Then I realized that these women may have been more comfortable with utilitarian designs, so I toned down my expectations and found some inspiration at the library.





I've started drafting a quilt top with a floral wreath and a floating ribbon. By cutting back on the frills, I think this may work.

After working out the quilting design, I'll start cutting the fabric.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nothing but time on my hands




By 11:00 Monday morning I had had enough of the lazy life and almost called my co-workers to see if they needed any of my invaluable expertise (hah!). I'm sure things are fine back at my desk, and if they're not...oh, well. It'll do until I get back to straighten up the loose ends. I, on the other hand, needed relief from boredom.

So I took a walk to the library for a quilting book and two videos, stopped at the drug store for some non-stick gauze pads, and looped my walk around the neighborhood. The 45 minute trek made me tired. I expected to be able to do more but the reality is I'm still physically wiped out.

On my expedition I discovered that there's more to my neighborhood than I had imagined. Yes, I enjoyed the earthy smell of the warm sun on the fallen leaves and the warmth of that sun on my shoulders. And I saw the remains of the strongest colored trees in their waning glory. But I also got a peak into spots that I normally miss when I drive past.

Who would have guessed that someone was growing cucuzzi in their backyard?






In all the years I've planted Dusty Miller, I've never known it to have these little yellow blooms.







These roses were as inviting as the first blooms of summer.







There's a hidden stream so close to me.





And someone couldn't resist the wet cement!








We're supposed to get rain tomorrow. On the next clear day I'll walk a little further to see what I find...


How well do you know your neighborhood? Look around and enjoy!










Have a wonderful day!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Graffiti



Good ol' fashioned rubbing alcohol and cotton balls are slowly removing the purple road map on my shoulder and back. The sticky yellow-orange stuff is more stubbornly hanging in there. This is my pre-op mark, where the doctor signed my left arm to signify which shoulder was to be worked on. That purple pen drew site marks and directions once I was unconscious.

Here's the rundown:

The good doctor planed off some bone from the joint in my shoulder that was "impinging" (pinching) the tendons. They woke me before I left the operating room and had me fed and dressed within an hour. I was up, walking to the bathroom on my own soon after that.

I stopped taking the prescription pain medication by the next morning because I didn't like the woozy feeling and I wasn't in any great pain. (Ibuprofen is the alternative, which is fine with me.)

After 48 hours, I decreased my time with the arm sling and started arm "circles". Actually, I let my arm hang and TRY to make a circle. My therapy evaluation is Thursday, and I want a head start on this. Right now I can't move my hand more than 18 inches form my hip (think small circle), so this week will entail a great amount of work. My upper arm feels like it is "banded" to my chest, caused by the reaction of the tendons from the surgery.

I'll be home for the next nine days. I'm sure I couldn't drive right now. I have books and may start some projects, as my arm will allow. And lots of catching up on blog-reading. I've been out for walks with my son, and I'll make that a daily habit while I'm housebound, especially great since it will be in the 70's over the next few days!

Early this morning, my youngest son loaded his vehicle and drove home. I'm sad, yes, but I'm so very grateful that he came to keep watch over me. We had wonderful conversations, good meals, and tossed around creative ideas. He's a very good person, and I'm so proud of him (as I am of all my boys.) He and his equally sweet girlfriend make a wonderful couple.

Wishing you all well!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time out

Hi folks. I've been trying to get everything in order around here so that my recoup time will go easy. Last night I cooked up a pot of Beef Burgundy. That's the first red meat I've cooked in many months. (If I'm gonna eat beef, it's gotta be good!) Today I'm doing up the laundry and finishing all the cleaning. I even picked up enough milk to last until I get out again next week.

I've got a few ideas for some crafting over the next few weeks, and I'm looking forward to making some prototypes. I hope to have lots of pictures for you soon. Also, I'm looking for a new challenge for winter, so I'll be cruising the internet to see if there's an interesting one coming up.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. Tomorrow's my big day. I'm really anxious to get my life back to normal.....haven't been to the gym in about a month!


It's Wednesday, have a great one!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My best find, ever!

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I have the highest regards for our forebearers who lived during the hard years of the Great Depression. IMHO, what we’ve been going through now is a mere inconvenience compared to life in the years where basics were scarce and mend-and-make-do was second nature. I’ve read a few books about the era, watched a few documentaries, and actually found a diary written in 1943 by a local young lad who grew up to be a lawyer in my vicinity. A few of his entries remark about gas rationing and lights out practices. Along with the memories that my mother has relayed to me, I have the little red tokens that were given to her as change from ration tickets. She explained that if the commodities were less than the value of the ticket, the shopkeeper would give you these, the same as if the transaction was being conducted in cash.

A few weeks ago, another piece of the puzzle fell into my hands. In a bin of mixed goods at a second-hand store, I found some old Office of Price Administration WWII booklets.

It seems that no one who was there that day knew, or cared, what these were. They were on a table that contained such things as old remote controls, toys, curling irons, greeting cards (scattered from the broken rubber band that once held them together), rusted muffin tins, and holiday decorations. That they remained together and were not ripped and destroyed is a joy in itself.





The booklets are each for a woman, man, and 2 ½ year old child. My mother explained that you would register each member of the household for ration stamps. I’ve looked through them several times, trying to imagine the lady of the house as she carefully decided what was needed for meals and how to get the most from her allotment. There are separate stamps for coffee and sugar, the most rare foodstuffs during that time.



The value of these pieces of paper is not great. They are available at online auctions for a few dollars. But when I hold them I get that wistful feeling, like Eddie Albert’s character on Green Acres as he waxed poetic about planting a seed and watching it grow. We may go through hard times for the next few years as we adjust to the “new economy”, but I hope we never have to live through the shortages that our ancestors knew.





My mother pointed out the notice on the back of the booklets. She remembered saving used cooking fats, and getting a few cents for it at the butchershop. This was a valuable commodity that would be used for the war effort.





Today grease is tossed out in the trash. I’m constantly amazed at what a wasteful society we have now become…..


Friday, October 15, 2010

5 minutes for warm ears

On my lunchtime walk the other day, my ears were cold. I guess that I'll need to keep a light hat in my desk drawer for Autumn. So I rummaged through my stash and found a small skirt that was purchased for the knit geometric print fabric. After some quick cuts and a few short seams, voila!










Now, I'm ready!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spooky treats




Take a look at these cute Halloween treats from online! I'm thinking about making some for my co-workers. After all, we all need a treat now and then :)



How about some goblins?



(recipe here)


Photo from DoubleCreamSingleSugar.blogspot.com





Or bloodshot eyeballs?





(recipe here)


Photo from TheCakeMistress.com/blog



I'll be stopping at the grocery store this afternoon for ingredients to make this pumpkin pie breakfast smoothie. Yum! I may not be able wait. It just might be tonight's supper!

Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

hot doggin' it

So much to do, so little time....

No sooner does Autumn arrive, that Winter pokes her (his?) nose around the corner. I slept with the windows closed last night. For many folks that would not be unusual, but given the temperatures here in southern New England and the fact that I like to sleep in cooler temperatures, it was not normal for me to close the panes in early October. Perhaps it is a symptom of my getting on in years (smirk)....

Every once in a while, over the last two weeks, my ears have picked up on the sound of geese high overhead on their yearly migration south. Not often, and smaller flocks, not the large ones that wait until it's later in the season. When there are no tender blades of grass left they take flight in dozens, always in that lopsided V formation where one side is longer than the other.

So today I made my annual visit to the big box hardware store for a five-pack of furnace air filters, realizing that I may want to use the heat once I settle in the recliner with my arm in a sling. But it seemed that the other northern hibernators were ahead of me and there was an empty space on the shelf where the required size air filters once sat, forcing me to visit ol' StuffMart, not something I wanted to do on a beautiful Sunday.

I did find the filters. And here is where my confession comes. I bought stuff. Not just ANY stuff, but DISPOSABLE stuff, with EXCUSES. Paper plates and dinner napkins just to make it easy on myself. I walked past a pillow display and picked up two, since my dear youngest son wants to drive down to take care of me and I only have the two that I use. I decided to pay the cashier and leave before I could make more excuses to spend.

The sun was glorious, so I made a bee-line for the shore. There were a few softball games just ended on the ball fields, and lingerers rehashed the plays. A few folks were out walking, some cyclists rode by, and fishing lines were being cast from the pier. I walked a bit, but was underdressed for the wind off the water. However, these guys were enjoying every bit of the wind.










That odd blot at the level of the horizon is one of the windsurfers. He was quite the hot dogger! Seriously, he would go up twice this high. I just couldn't catch it with the timing on my snaps!#!
















It seemed as if the sun was glistening off every surface, like a reminder that we'll do this again next year.

I'll be looking forward to it.


I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Have a great week!