Friday, December 7, 2018

Torture

I should have titled this post How to Torture Grandma

 It all started with this piece of fabric.  Adelaide: "Grandma, will you make something for me with this? I think it's really pretty."   Of course.  So.  I thought and thought and thought a bed pocket would be good. They can keep their books or tablets in it when they finish for the night.   But Adelaide said no, "Just roll it up and stuff it.  Like this."

I have said a million times, I don't sew, I quilt.  It's torture for me.  But....
Elizabeth said she would like a bed pocket and I told her she could choose any fabric she liked.  "Even from the forbidden shelf?"  So she chose the blue floral print. 
This is where I was laid on the rack, arms and legs splayed and the screws tightened.  It took me over a week of angst to put this together. Really.  Nothing I did was right because after I cut everything according to specs I realized in a sit up in bed moment in the middle of the night, Elizabeth has a loft bed and so doesn't have a box spring for the full size pattern to fit.  She needed something less than half that size.  I must have circled the dining room table a hundred times talking to this thing, examining it, measuring, KNOWING as soon as I took a cut it would be wrong. 

Speaking of dining room table.  My machine is in the bathroom closet, my stash in a bedroom closet along with the tabletop ironing board and cutting mat, the iron is in the cupboard beneath the bathroom sink.  When I "want" to use the machine it's quite a process to set things up so whatever I do it needs time, time, time to make all that unpacking and repacking supplies worthwhile.

Back to coming to terms....I can't tell you how many times I rip.  But eventually I got the bed pocket done and it's really cute.  The ties are to hold it to her side rail.  By the time you see this she will have received it. She said she wanted it to "hold her candy."

I was saving myself for the pillow.  I knew I wasn't going to just stuff it. I bought a neck roll pillow and watched a few YouTubes and spent yesterday doing a job that would have taken any of you an hour.   The ends are a little loose, but when it's washed and dried after she and the cats and the dog use it, the looseness will tighten up.

So, now the dining room table is cleaned off, I'll vacuum the threads now and go back to my peaceful hand work with newfound love.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Once Upon a River



Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


     The story begins with storytellers. Once upon a time upon a river there is an inn called The Swan on the river Thames in Radcot. The specialty at this inn was storytelling. The people in the village took pride in their story telling, they aspired to it.  Telling stories helped the long winters pass and on one particular winter evening a man arrives, gravely injured and bleeding and he is holding a small girl.  A small dead girl.  As things are sorted out, the man cared for, the girl taken away to a side room, the storytelling both stopped and gained a life of its own, because a little after the child is laid down, she takes a breath and is once again living.  Who can die and come back to life after an hour?  Who is the child?  Who are her parents and where did she come from?  Is she even real? She isn’t talking and the man who carried her in doesn’t know, either.
     As the storytellers depart into the night and give wings to the events at The Swan, three people come to claim the child.  A young couple whose daughter was kidnapped two years earlier claim the child is theirs. Certainly, of course she looks a bit different, but she was a toddler then and is a young girl now. 
     Then there is a man named Quietly.  Quietly plies the river in his boat, sometimes rescuing people and bringing them to safety, and thus a longer life, and sometimes he takes them to the other shore. People know of Quietly and some have claimed to been saved by him but he is elusive.
     To another family this child belongs to their estranged son.  She is their family, and he no longer is, so it’s important to claim her and raise her as their own.  It would be so much easier if the child could talk.
     Each family has staked a claim on the young girl and each has their own story, but don’t we all have our own story? We can all take bits and pieces from these people and fit those bits into our own stories.
     Once you sit down with Diane Setterfield’s new book, you might as well give yourself up to it, don’t fight it, don’t answer the phone, don’t make plans.  In Once Upon a River there is something of being carried away by our imaginations and the possibilities of truth but there is always and on every page the magic of the author’s writing.  I couldn’t wait to read this and I couldn’t stop.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

It's all good


When it rains instead of snows for the Santa Claus parade
 You smile sweetly at your daddy and he will open his office right on Main Street's parade route
and you invite your friends to join you 
 to watch the parade warm and dry. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Time capsule

 For the past seven years, as best we can recall, we've brought the girls home with us on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and kept them with us so our daughter could cook and prep and clean and it would stay that way till Thursday for Thanksgiving Day.   We've loved it, she loved it (after the first year she said it was better than bringing a dish to pass) and now it's tradition, we get our tree up, decorate, eat popcorn and candy canes and watch movies and read stories.    
 
This photo is from the first year, we think.  I had my white felt tree on the dining table and when they walked in the door they immediately climbed up, started in on the candy canes and decorating and they never got down except to sleep, for two days.   Truly.

 They played and played and ate candy canes and danced and slid across the top and never got down.

 Today after I showed them the pictures of their little selves I suggested we try to recreate the scene.  Different house but the kids are the same, the felt tree is the same, the ceiling is lower or, oh wait...I believe they are a bit bigger.

 At this point I had to change my position and told Elizabeth to change hers because I couldn't see her behind the chandelier.  "Well," she said, "no one's ever said THAT to me before!"   I told them this picture would drive momma nuts. Again, Elizabeth said, "Where else can we play on top of the dining room table but here?"  Touche.
 We picked out our tree and brought it home.  Of course, as with all trees you pick out in a lot, this was too big for the space but we lopped some off the top and made it fit.  They've spent the afternoon decorating and recreating the drama of the Christmas movies we had on in the background - Charlie Brown and Rudolph.
It was a struggle but I think they finally had enough of eating bowls full of the cookie dough.  Keeping them and PH out of it was a struggle. 
 Every year my mom made popcorn balls so this year I thought we'd give it a try.  They were very brave shaping the balls after hot syrup was poured over the popcorn.  It's a bit of a race against time - you have to work fast to shape the balls while the coating is still hot but that's the issue - it's HOT.  They did a great job.

Our preparations for thanksgiving are complete.  I hope their momma is ready for us tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Visitor


Look who came for a visit.  This young buck has been around for a few weeks (at least that I've noticed.)  He has four points and is eating what greenery he can find.  He stayed quite awhile.
 If I were to walk out there, I'd be where he is in four steps. Maybe three.
 The bird feeder looked good to him but he didn't try for it.  If I put corn out now he might not be back for a few days and the squirrels would get it before he does. 
We are five days into deer hunting season and I hope he has a good hiding place!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Second Try


What was a loose and carefree week last week morphed into another round of busy this week with hardly a chance to bake but I did attempt a second ginger fruitcake and had taste testers Friends Marilyn and Jan on our quilty day.

For this one I added more golden raisins and some dried cranberries soaked in rum to equal, once plumped, 2 cups.  I used just a quarter cup of grated ginger and a quarter cup of ginger paste, which I didn't know existed but found at the grocery store and decided upon tasting it, I didn't like it because it's too mild.  The rum added to the cake equaled about 3/4 cup and then added 1/4 cup orange juice.  More walnuts and pecans, too.  Since I didn't measure the candied orange and lemon peel last time, I didn't measure it this time, either.  Just added "some."  Remember, this is a basic moist gingerbread cake recipe that I'm adding all of these extra ingredients to.  That first cake that I made the week before? I still have two pieces sitting on the counter and it just gets better and better.

Verdict from my taste testers?  They liked this one better because the ginger taste wasn't so slap your tongue strong.  This one was milder all around.  For that reason alone I liked the first cake better because I DO like the stronger flavor you get from fresh grated ginger.  I like flavor.  Like I always tell the people at the Cheese Lady store, if you can't taste it, why eat it?

I also did finish the tops for two of the grand girls and need to find a piece of fabric for contrast for one of the others and hope to do that soon. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rare Week at Home

Remember that fruitcake I had in England? And remember I said I was going to fiddle with a gingerbread recipe when I got home?  Well, I found what looked like a dense recipe so I tried some fiddling.
 This basic recipe came from the most recent issue of Bake From Scratch magazine (Nov/Dec 2018). When I read it I thought it sounded like a very dense cake so it was my first test. But of course, I changed it a lot. The recipe didn't call for adding fruit.  I soaked some golden raisins and dried ginger in rum. No measuring, just "some."  I forgot to buy a real orange but had a single serve bottle of Adelaide's orange juice in the fridge so used that.  Where the recipe called for a whole cup of juice I used the rum that came from plumping the raisins and added the juice to equal one cup.  I  also chopped up a bunch of the candied orange and lemon peel I made last winter and found in a container in the freezer. The recipe called for a 1/2 cup of grated ginger and I thought that was a lot, but boy the heat and flavor is tops in the cake!  The pecans were a must.  And voila!  It may not be a real fruitcake, but it has more fruit in it that I have ever put in a cake.  I'll make it again soon because this is truly dense, moist, gingery, but you'd never know the fruit is in it now so I'll add more raisins and orange and lemon peel next time.
 Looking at the calendar and seeing a whole week of empty squares got me to prepping the next big project.  I used to keep my mom busy embroidering these squares for me.  By the time she couldn't do it anymore I had a stack of embroidery in lots of different topics.  Well, because I'm on a mission to use what I have I decided to make a simple quilt for each of the grand girls using the squares their great grandma embroidered.  I had twelve tea cups, twelve tea pots and twelve sunbonnet sues.   I split the cups and pots so two quilts would have 6 of each, those are for Elizabeth and Adelaide. The Sunbonnet Sue is for Ceci because the baby quilt I made for her was a much enlarged Sue in a garden.
 I used my scraps to border them.  The pink plaid is the sashing for the Sues.
 These are Adelaide's.  She likes blue and perkier colors.  The white/blue at the top is her sashing.
Elizabeth likes the classic look and the green is her sashing.  I'll big stitch quilt them and have them for the girls next Christmas, 2019.

I spent this week cutting and piecing these borders for the squares and yesterday cutting the sashing for Elizabeth's. You can see they are all the same, scrappy and simple.  Last night Friend Linda called.  "Whatcha doin'?"  I'm ripping apart something I was sewing today.  "I didn't think you ever had to rip."  (silly girl)  I told her I was ripping because I was using the machine and when using the machine, I rip.  Occasionally I drag the machine out to do simple bordering like these are.  Well, the thing is it's a circle, isn't it?  I'm not good at sewing a straight line.  I'm not good because I don't do it. If I did it more I'd be better at it.  But give me some little pieces and a background and my needle turn applique any day!!  Sheesh!