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


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

Or bloodshot eyeballs?

(recipe here)

Photo from

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!


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!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

good news, kind of....

The results of the MRI were no surprise, and my options were clear. A very competent doctor will be soon be poking around inside my shoulder to repair some damage. It's been hurting since January and I couldn't put up with it any longer. Even the arm motion during jogging is difficult. Surprisingly, guiding material through the presser foot can sometimes hurt. This has been very distracting for me, causing the lack of substantial posting, for which I apologize.

My current focus is on getting a few secondhand oversize button-front shirts, making sure I have a variety of reading materials, and preparing single serve meals that can be microwaved. The last package of frozen pumpkin from 2009 is slated to become a nice pumpkin bread for my recovery treat and I've just prepared a batch of granola, which is my go-to snack. There are a few frozen containers of satisfying and healthy curried red lentil soup, along with some packs of quinoa or wild rice which can be mixed with frozen veggies for an easy lunch. The goal is to be able to survive without using pots, pans or extra dishes. It's a mini lesson in survival, except that I will be able to use electricity and I can use money to purchase what I need to survive. (Wendy - I now have a better understanding of the dilemma of doing without those options, and a broader sense of what it means to be self-sufficient. My constant thought was "What if money had no value, the stores had folded, electric power was non-existent?" How would I do this, then?)

I'm trying not to think of the immediate pain from the operation, but of the freedom of movement gained once the healing is done. Countdown to renewal, 2 weeks, 1 day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Itching to be stitching, went for supplies

I wanted to find a man's suit jacket. One that I could deconstruct and refashion into something unidentifyably different. And I would need a unique material to use for a lining for this refashion. So I wandered off to the Goodwill. I did not expect to find the tables full to overflowing with goods. There was a virtual cornucopia of books. It was just too easy to load up a basket with...stuff.

I found the jacket, actually two, and two different blouses of fancy fabric that will be used for linings. I also found a few yards of wool and heavyweight cotton fabric that will be made into dresses or skirts for winter.

I took a quick look through the books. And I did bring a few home. There were five December issues of the major magazines from the 70's and 80's. Do you remember the ones that had hundreds of cookie recipes and last minutes gifts to make or decorations for the house? We actually had these very issues when they were published.

I couldn't resist these two photographs, especially the little girls sitting at the table, all dressed up with hair combed and trimmed. The photo of the choral group was taken at Christmas, with a decorated and lit tree on each side of the room. There is no writing on the back of these photos, no names, no dates. No one to claim them. I'll give them a roof over their heads.

But if I could have only picked one thing to keep, I would have to choose this tattered copy of the Rumford Complete Cookbook. The spine cover is missing, the covers are off, pages are ripped and stained. But the previous owner really cooked and baked. All the empty pages have handwritten and newsprint-clipped recipes, some with personal notes like "1-24-66 very good" or "moderate oven. I used 400" and "3rd from top for cupcake tins".

There's even a clipping explaining how to render fat, stating that if it is done right it will stay creamy and smooth, even through the hot summer months. Gee, no stopping at the drive-thru for that homemaker!

I'll be sitting at my sewing machine this week, now that it gets dark early. I'm loaded up with supplies. No excuses :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm only guessing

Last week I made a stop at the secondhand store to find some "raw materials" of clothing I could refashion. I found a few and then looked through the housewares where I found this...thing. I have a hunch about what it was used for, but perhaps someone out there knows what it is??? (I'm not even sure all the parts are there.)

There is a cone-shaped piece of metal that fits inside the lower part. the handle pushes through the upper part. There is a hole that runs through the bottom half. Any ideas? Could it be some sort of sausage casing filler? How about the patina on it? It must have been well-used for years. I'm sure that for sanitary and health reasons it should not be used for food now.

Okay folks, have you ever seen one of these before? Please tell! Or guess?