Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Takes 2 block progress

These were assembled during the past week....

One more block to complete this installment.  Next group to be posted on Wednesday!

I'm loving this :)

To see everyone's progress, hop over to Just Takes 2.  Thank you to Brenda and Gay for hosting this quilt along.

Have a wonderful Monday :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012, not as I had imagined

The year is still new but I'm almost looking back on 2011, wistfully.

I took my mother back to the hospital this morning.  She's had a rough time since she came home.  Even though she has been on antibiotics (or because of them), she has developed a nasty infection in her colon.  She is constantly tired and sleeping, getting weaker and more dehydrated.  The current course of antibiotics isn't making progress.  I take care of her on weekends and drive there once mid-week after work and call her two or three times a day, but it's not enough.  Her doctor and I agreed that she needs the care that a hospital could give her to get over this problem.  So we spent the morning in the ER and finally got her settled into a room around noon.

While driving home, my neighbor called me to let me know that a pipe somewhere in the walls was leaking and that there's a good-sized puddle in the condo basement.  Our property manager recently resigned and we have no direct contact for this.  All we could do was leave messages with the answering service.  Two hours later, no repair service has arrived.

The other problems are minor......

On the other hand, this unusually warm January weather makes me happy  :)
And I've stitched 3 more blocks for Just Takes 2.  I'll finish the remaining 2 tonight and be ready for the next group to be offered on February 1st!  (Photos tomorrow, promise!)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Orchard, a Memoir

My choice of reading material is non-fiction, historical accounts.  Finding them in the first person narrative is a bonus.  A memoir is a real treat.  A woman's viewpoint and her actions as she lives through any given period intrigues me.  So "The Orchard, a Memoir" left me with a lot to think about.  For several days I tried to write a deserving review but still find my words lacking.

Betty Robertson Cramer found her mother's handwritten account of her years during the Great Depression which she later published as "The Orchard", a time period covering the first few years after her father's death.  Adele Crockett Robertson took on the responsibility of the family homestead, including an orchard which had provided the principle income for the family.  The onset of the Depression, however, made drastic changes in the running of the homestead.  The bottom dropped out of the market price for apples.

We watch her grow as she hires labor and deals with the bank, buyers, poachers, and the largest threat of all, the weather.  She never shirked a responsibility, making sure her employees were paid even when her finances were slim.  From years of training under her father's instruction she knew what had to be done, from spraying the trees to running the machinery.  She treated everyone fairly and earned the respect of her employees and her competitors.  They admired her dedication and resourcefulness.  By having her written word we see her thoughts, her worries, her finances.  We follow as she copes with the relentless weather.

The Orchard is an easy read, offering a different insight into the hardships during the Depression.  It reminds us to be thankful for today's luxuries while showing us how close we can be to the edge.  Our economy is not safe.  How quickly it can tumble and we may have to depend on the kindness of others.  This book may not be a literary giant.  It's more of a journal, showing the thoughts and reasoning for her actions.

The may be a few different lessons here, but one that I take from this book is "Whose dream are we saving?"  If you choose to read it, (and I hope that you do) you'll understand.

This book has a permanent space on my shelf.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Go ahead, say told me so!

I opened the jar of Fire Water to see if it was ready to sample, and promptly drained and disposed of the contents.  The pleasant garlicky aroma from two weeks ago was displaced by an awful mixed/rotting/pungent smell, not resembling any of the veggies inside.

There's a cold traveling around the office......I'm thinking about making some garlic bread tonight ;)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Red and White

I've always loved antique red and white quilts, which is what influenced my color choice for the Just Takes 2 quilt along.  Luckily, yesterday MyStory of HiStory left a link in her comment that led me to a story of an amazing quilt show of hundreds of red and white quilts which I, sadly, missed :(  

Red and white quilts have that "homemade" charm of a simpler time when fingers, knotted from years of hard work, pieced and quilted with love all these covers that we treasure today.  Years ago I was fortunate enough to have found a full red and white quilt top and some blocks in a box at a church sale.  I completed the quilt top, hand quilting a moderate design, and sold it.  Ditto, the quilt blocks. I made a few small wall hangings from them.  Unfortunately, I have no photos of the full quilt but here is a floral star block from the box that I finished as a wall hanging.

(The photo quality looks poor because it is a photo of an old photograph.  My scanner is not currently hooked up.)

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to have been asked to handquilt this beautiful red and white schoolhouse raffle quilt for the Vermont Quilt Festival.  It was pieced with beautiful red prints.  Some lucky person won this  :)

(Photo taken before the edge was bound.)

So my current project, the Just Takes 2 quilt along, is filling a void.  When it is finished I will have my own red and white quilt  ;)
Thank you, MyStory, for the link!  I'm so glad to know that others have a high regard for some of my favorite of quilts.  And it was nice to go back in time.  I had forgotten about these!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

FNSI - 1/20/2012 - Fun with Just Takes 2 blocks

Winter has been much milder than last year, and yesterday's weather reports had everyone anticipating the first significant snowfall to begin overnight.  It was cold and clear.  The perfect evening to stay snug at home and enjoy an evening of sewing.

Last weekend I joined the Just Takes 2 mystery quilt along, purchased, washed, and ironed my material, and generally, smiled all week.  I cut the pieces for the first six blocks on Thursday.  Rushing home from work on Friday evening, I was anxious to start sewing.

After a very quick supper I followed the instructions for each block, carefully sewing and pressing.  I love that each one is different.  It's not an assembly line procedure, sitting at my sewing machine and running dozens of the same pieces through the feed dog.  In other words, very different from any quilt I've made in the past.

The lighting makes this pure white fabric look somewhat dingy!
I'll take photos with natural daylight next time...

With each completed block my smile grew larger.  They are all various small sizes.  This is going to be an interesting quilt!  I decided to complete the second installment of blocks over this weekend so that I'll be caught up with the group.  So check back here on Sunday night to see if I've kept my word ;)

And be sure to head over to Crafty Vegas Mom's blog to see what everyone from Friday Night Sew In has accomplished.  Seeing all those lovely stitches is a dose of inspiration!

By the way, it's been snowing since sometime after midnight  :)
Have a wonderful Saturday!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vintage Thingy Thursday - 1/19/2012

I love the stories that belong to our vintage items, whether they be handed down from generation to generation or found in a secondhand store.  Some items remain a mystery forever and some give all the clues as to their former life, such as the yearbook I came across a few weeks ago.

I love to thumb through older yearbooks to see the often melodious names from years gone by.  You would travel far and wide to find a girl named Eudora these days and I haven't met a Clifford in four decades, although I'm sure there are some still around.  New parents haven't ventured beyond the family honorables and the famous actor(ess) for ideas to christen their children.  So I was amused with the various names in this high school yearbook from the late 1940s.  But even more interesting was the back story that this book revealed.  As I lifted it from the bin some papers and clippings started to fall from inside.  I slid them back in so that I could read them later.

When I sat down with this yearbook at home, I discovered that the former owner had several clippings of the singer Julius LaRosa.  Could she have known him and perhaps had a crush on him?  Hmmmm.  Then the little photo dropped onto the table.  A wallet-sized photo of a young LaRosa in his naval uniform with a clearly written message and signature on the back.

It seems that they were good acquaintances, after all.  His yearbook photo was signed to the owner complete with his phone number from that time.  (Remember when phone numbers started with two alpha-digits, such as MUrray Hill 7-xxxx or TOwnsend 9-xxxx :)   Even more amusing was his goal written at the end of his be a music teacher.  I remember my hometown radio station playing the "Italian Hour" on Sunday afternoons, and Julius LaRosa songs were played every week.  That wouldn't have happened if he went on to be a teacher.

I especially enjoy the poses of the young ladies in their photos in this book.  The camerman captured each student's spirit and beauty.  The hairstyles are soft and curly.  The wishes "To a swell girl..." are sweet.

While it is a shame that this small treasure is far from its original home, I will enjoy and share it with others.  I hope you enjoyed seeing it today!
Stop by at the Colorado Lady's blog for more postings of Vintage Thingy Thursday.  Please join in the fun and share a vintage thingy of yours!

Now, how about a little music!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not one, but two!

One of my goals for 2012 was to join more online challenges.  My lucky stars found two for me within the first two weeks of the new year :)

I stumbled upon the Simple Living Pledge and challenge on the Kanelstrand blog.  For three weeks in February, participants will strive to live a simple life in a complicated world.  There will be posts on various aspects of keeping your sanity in an ever complicated world, most certainly there will be something for everyone.  A quiet mid-winter month should provide perfect timing for such an endeavour.  Follow this link to Kanelstrand and wander through the crafty posts!  Take the pledge, if you'd like to challenge yourself!

I also happened upon the Just Takes 2 quilt along.  For everyone who has L.O.V.E.D. the great red and white quilts (or the blue and white, or the yellow and white, or...), Brenda and Gay have organized the perfect project.  It's a mystery quilt with block patterns revealed each month.  After all the blocks are made, the full quilt placement will be revealed.  And all done in just two colors....sweet simplicity ;)

I'll be working on the Just Takes 2 quilt during Friday Night Sew Ins, of course!  The sign up has been posted for January 20th.  How about joining us for a cozy evening with a favorite project?

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something completely different

Here's a quick link to a live webcam inside a bear's den.  The expectant female bear (Jewel) is hibernating.  Black bear births occur in mid to late January.  You may only see a lump of black fur breathing away during slumber and hear her deep breaths, but you may tune in to a scratching semi-awake bear.

The North American Bear Center website has amazing articles and facts about this mammal.  Stroll around there and learn something new.

...and if you're really lucky, you may be "present" for the upcoming birth!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Books, books, and more books.....

You can call me a bookworm or you can point out my hoarder tendencies......

.....but I was raised with a deep appreciation for books.

Over the years hundreds of books have passed through my front door, both incoming and outgoing.  I aquire most of them at either very low- or no-cost.  I borrow extensively through the public library.  As a matter of fact, one of the first things I do upon any relocation is locate all the libraries around me and become a card-carrying patron.  I still have my card from my library in another state even though it has long since expired.  (I have plans for it in an upcoming project.)

Right now there are about 24 to 30 books in my living room, not including craft books.  Of these 30 or so books, about half are permanent residents and the other half will be re-donated to Goodwill once I'm done with them.  Wherever I go, there are always ones that catch my attention.

Recently I found this gem from the latter part of the last century.  I brought back a flood of memories, and thoughts on energy in general.  Just before this book was written I was in high school and working part-time.  I graduated in '72 and worked full-time, paying my own way.  In '76 I married, we bought a modest house, and thus began the homeowners' dilemmas.  For what is usually known as the "best years of one's life", mine were played out against the background of an energy crisis,the ending of a major military struggle, NOW, the Son of Sam, Watergate, an (in)famous murder in my hometown (involving a prominent politcal family), and a few other incidentals.  Don't get me teen years were personally great.  But when it comes to energy saving and consumption, it still bothers me that we're no better now than we were back then, imho.  While I was getting up before dawn to get in line at the gas station (odd-numbered days for my odd-numbered license plate), we were told that the technology existed to produce cars that would exceed 60mpg and that these would be in production by the end of the decade (by 1980.)  So where are they?  Oil prices went down and the pressure was off the car companies to increase efficiency.  Instead, they went for aerodynamic design and wowed the masses with sleek, sexy looks.  I often wonder how many gallons would have been saved if those 60mpg vehicles had come to fruition.  Thirty-plus years of half the oil usage on the roads would have made a huge dent in our total consumption of a natural resource.  But I've gotten off track.....

As a newlywed and newbie homeowner, I remember trying to save energy.  We put a Crane cooker (wood and coal stove combo) into our little cape.  We got used old-style wooden storm windows and hung them on our house, cutting down on drafts and increasing the warmth.  We had a fantastic garden and a grape arbor.  Mom taught me water-bath canning.  And there was a plethora of do-it-yourself information out there for folks like us.  It was the original return to "the old ways of our ancestors".....a combination of hippie commune and shade tree advice from grandfather, dad, or helpful older neighbor.

Mother Earth News was a leader in the movement to conserve.  Even popular magazines recognized the need for low-cost home improvements.  I remember seeing pop-in interior "shutters" or rigid insulation covered in fabric that would snuggly fit in a window to prevent heat loss.  These articles were geared for the average homeowner who wanted maximum value for minimum outlay.  So finding this book was a "validation" for me, as it were.  I knew there were more simple things that I could do without a major retrofit here in my condo and later, wherever I may be.  (You may recall my success last year, with putting up the shrinkwrap-type plastic on my sliding door and installation of the heavy-duty drape to cut back on draft and heat loss.  I've repeated the application for this winter.)

It seems that nowadays we focus on what we can buy in order to $ave.  Everything is pre-built, ready to install (or have installed by a contractor).  There is a large consumer-driven culture, as opposed to the smaller one geared at those who want to put things together or use their skills (although I do find people with those inclinations over here.)  Maybe I've just become immune to the sales hype, but I just think we need to use our noggin a little more and our wallet a little less ;)   And maybe we should learn from the mistakes we've made over the's not too late.

There's a time and a place for everything, and this book has a place in my collection.

I'd like to share this photo with you.  I've had this geranium for about twelve years.  Each Winter I cut it back and each Spring I put it outside.  It sits inside the sliding door with the shrinkwrap plastic.  This year it has decided to honor me with a mid-winter bloom!

Here's hoping that you're all staying warm and cozy this weekend!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Ahhhhh, she's home :)

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!  Mom is home, and very tired.  I'm still dashing back and forth and hope to have her settled in by tomorrow night with a well-stocked fridge and pantry.

I'm anxious to tell you about the upcoming challenge I've joined and also do a little show-and-tell from my last junkin' adventure, but I need daylight to take a decent photo for that.

There's a very bitter wind whipping outside so I'm snuggled up on the couch and I'm sure I'll be asleep early tonight.  Exhaustion and relief make good sleep aids, along with a bowl of homemade stew courtesy of a friend   :)

Stay warm, friends, and have a wonderful evening!  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Help requested

It's been very hectic around here since my mother was admitted to the hospital last week.  She went in with diverticulitis and was almost ready to be sent home but now has fallen and hit her head.  On top of that, she now has an infection which she didn't have before so they're keeping her in a few extra days.  Normally a sweet, gentle woman of 92, she is ready to cuss out the staff and just wants to go home.  Would you mind helping by sending a prayer up for her speedy recovery?

I'll be back as soon as we can get her patched up.

Side note:  While driving back and forth these past few evenings, I've enjoyed the beautiful bright moon.  Tonight it was very lightly masked by feathery clouds.  Of all the times not to have my camera!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Over the (grocery) counter

There's some strange stuff in my fridge.....

Just before Christmas I stumbled on this recipe, and I don't even remember what link I clicked to get there!  At that time a co-worker had graciously shared their headcold with all of us in the office and I was sporting a red, runny nose.  I decided to skip the over-the-counter medicines and let Nature do what it does best.  (I admit to enjoying the menthol of Vicks Vaporub to help sooth my tissue-blowing irritated nose ;)   Within seven days my nose was back to normal....actually better than if I had taken any of the cold medicines.

I gathered up all the ingredients and mixed up a batch.  Realizing that I was already well into the cold season and that the recommended 8 weeks of steeping wasn't feasible, I decided to let it brew for about 4 weeks.  I would be able to start using it in late January.  There are still plenty of colds that travel through classrooms for the next few months.  Those parents in my office will be bringing in a few more surprises this winter, I'm sure!

So, here it sits about two weeks into development.  I may strain a small amount each week into a clean cup to sample.  Will it work?  Durned if I know, but it can't be all bad for you.  It's made with lots of good stuff!

Have you ever heard of a concoction like this?  Ever tried one?  The recipe is easy enough (although grating fresh horseradish is quite the experience!)  Let me know if you try this, and I'll post an update now and then.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A great start to the new year!

Wow, I was so excited to hear that I won a copy of Wendy's new book, Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs!  I have been reading her blog for a while and got to know her a bit better two years ago when I started making semi-drastic changes that saved energy and money.  Wendy and her family are quite knowledgeable about what the good Earth can (and cannot!) provide for us, and how to make use of natural resources for daily living.  And she's got a great sense of humor that makes her writing even more enjoyable :)

What a great way to start 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012, here and now

Now that I've defined the direction I plan to take in this coming year, here is my short list of things I'd like to accomplish in that time.  Which, you can see, is more like expanding what was begun in 2011.

Make this a heart-healthy year.  My bicycling may be sidelined for this year :(   but I can walk during lunch.  Get back to the gym.  Use the pool at the recreation center.  Cook more whole meals at home.  And experiment with foods new to me.

Where I joined Friday Night Sew In six times in 2011, I'll participate in all twelve this year.  Not only is it a good way to get things done, it's great to see what everyone else is creating.  I'll be merging this with finishing up the two quilts that were started last year, some advance Christmas craft preparation, and some online sewing challenges.

I want to re-learn French.  After taking classes from 3rd through 9th grades in school, phrases come back to me during conversations.  Strange how that would happen after all these years....  I think there's someone or something trying to catch my attention, n'est ce pas?

Read more.  I have a wonderful literary "wish list" thanks to all the recommendations I've found online.  Those terrific books you review are noted for reference.

I'm not going out for the gold, here.  I won't be petitioning my homeowners' association to allow solar panel installation.  But I'm always looking for ways to reduce energy usage and make life better, in general.

We'll see what 2012 brings!  Wishing you a wonderful year :)


Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new day!

I hope you are all feeling well this morning....not dragging and sluggish from over-indulgence last night ;)

I went to a dinner party with friends and returned home while the driving was still safe (because the serious party-goers were still partying....)  It was satisfying to doze off to sleep with a full tummy and happy thoughts, knowing that I would feel good this morning.  Because this morning is the start of our New Year.  This is the day we use to chart our course for the next twelve months....or two weeks, depending on willpower ;)

Over the past week I thought hard and long about where my energies should go in 2012 and beyond.  I could attempt to do anything I desired, short of learning to fly an airplane or travelling into outer space.  I came up with two variations of a list.  Today I would like to share the more general choices....the ones that are more like "guidelines".  Tomorrow I will post a slightly different list of things I would like to accomplish.  But here is my list of how I want to live my life in 2012.....

Adopt a lighter lifestyle.  Use less, need less.

Help someone.

Treat all those I meet with respect and kindness.

Learn something new....and then something else....and something else.....


Those are the gerneral, overall points of how I want to proceed this year.  Tomorrow I'll share my "other" list.  See you then!

And if you partied a little too hard last night, you've got 12 months to shake it off.  Have a wonderful Sunday!