Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year New Projects

    New Year, new project and this one is all for me!  It's been years since I did a quilt just for me and when I saw this book on a recent shop visit with Friends Marilyn, Jan, Barb and Sally it spoke to me right away.
  I love birds and I have black fabrics that I've been hoarding over the years.  There are crows in the woods behind the house so it all fits.  I've started on one and there are nine in the quilt.  Of course I'll change the fabric choices a lot and I'll probably do the border differently than the pattern because all of those little triangles send chills down my spine.

 Here's the first one in progress.  It's amazing what you can get done if you don't take the nap!

   I had lunch with Friend Karen the other day and she - or rather her husband, Dave - sent along a gift bag of the newest goodies to come out of his smoker.  We received bacon, two cheeses and a bag of smoked almonds. We had some of the bacon this morning.  Now, let me say this.  We are bacon people.  After living in South Haven and eating the bacon from Bob's Processing, we really are spoiled for the good stuff. Bob's bacon has a flavor like no other.  We still buy several packages whenever PH is in the area.
   We auditioned many butcher shop bacons since we moved and only one comes in a far second.  In a pinch I bought some but after tasting Dave's, well, his cuts the line and stands tall behind Bob's Processing.
    Tonight we will taste the cheeses, but let it be said, PH loves smoked cheeses so I think we're good.
 The smoked almonds, though.  Oh, my.  I didn't want to waste them by just eating them so I searched the internet for "ice cream recipes using smoked almonds" and found a recipe for salted caramel smoked almond ice cream.
This was a leap of faith for me.  I don't care for caramel much.  But our daughter always orders salted caramel ice cream when we go out.  But she doesn't do nuts. Quandry. 
   I made two batches. One with nuts, one without and there was just a little bit of each batch left that didn't fit in my quart containers so I made a very small serving with nuts for SIL to try tonight while daughter eats hers.  The quart with the nuts?  I'm going to serve that when we have Friend Karen and Dave here for dinner with the rest of our group.  It's an annual thing and I think this will do the trick.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Show and Tell

I am holding up my gift from Florence in France for all to see.  She sent me a beautifully stitched little hanging and let me tell you, it is gorgeous. 

 The stitching is perfect - I wish you could see it up close. I give you this so you can see perfection.
 Fun little holiday buttons decorate the top and bottom.

 This is beautiful, Flo, and I send you a big thank you hug!
She also sent this book box.  Box book?  Either way, it's perfect for me, Bookwoman.  Closed, it looks like a book with the end pages the alphabet, but inside it's completely lined and the lid fits snugly.  Wow. Perfect!

Thank you Florence, your gifts are perfect and I love them! You can check out Florence's blog here and on my sidebar.

 And thank you, Chookyblue for again organizing this fun Christmas exchange. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Baking skills

Didn't think I would post something so close to Christmas but when our daughter posted these pictures of Elizabeth I asked if I could use them here.  Last week we gave her a baking cookbook in her stocking and she decided on a chocolate chip sandwich cookie as her first project.  Daughter said she let Elizabeth do the whole thing, even turning on the oven, which was quite exciting.
 Elizabeth and Adelaide love to bake, I posted about their mad scientist concoctions before  and somehow the things they throw into the bowl seem to work. Somehow and sometimes. But Elizabeth is old enough now to work on the discipline of learning to do it right allowing for imagination and substitutions later.
 I think there is nothing like baking to sharpen math skills. Baking is following directions, fractions, science and sweet gratification. 

  Start at the beginning, do everything one step at a time and in the end you have a chocolate chip sandwich cookie in your hands.
I'm on my way over there right now to sample!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Merry Christmas, Everyone

Monday, December 19, 2016


      We had our Christmas this past weekend and the quilts were a hit with the boys.  They both slept with them that very night, Charlie cuddled with his on the way home and when Mikey saw the orange 'D' he said, "It's the Detroit Tigers!"  We snuggled with it while I read the book that I gave him with the quilt, Curious George Plays Baseball. So, yes, it went well. 

     We did have some unexpected guests for dinner that night, though.  While we were enjoying our prime rib and champagne the fire alarm went off.  Adelaide was frightened because they once stayed in a hotel and the fire alarm went off and the hotel had to evacuate.  But I am so used to the alarm telling me I once again burned the garlic bread, or when we lived at the lake it went off anytime it got humid, I just kind of ignore it.  I know, I know.
     Well, the alarm would beep and stop.  Beep and stop.  Beep and stop.  Each time Adelaide was concerned and we told her all was ok.  Not to worry, we were fine.  A couple of times someone pressed the reset button but it would beep and stop again. Poor Adelaide, she was trying to tell us to pay attention.
     Finally, DIL Erin said when it makes a noise like this it's not fire, which is a constant alarm, but this is more the carbon monoxide noise. SIL Colin took the unit off the ceiling and read the label that said to "seek fresh air."  OK, now you have my attention.  I said, "We have 9 people sleeping here tonight and 5 of them are children.  Who is going to be the canary in the coal mine?  Maybe we should call."
     So, I called 911 and explained our non-emergency so "no sirens, please" but we think someone should come and check us out.  A few minutes later we had 5 firemen in full firefighting apparel and equipment in our house and the eyes of our almost 4 year old Mikey were extra large.  They tested and tested and tested and determined it was our almost out of date alarms that were malfunctioning.  There was nothing to worry about, we could go to sleep with peace.  I passed out peppermint patties to the VERY cute firemen and they left.  We told Adelaide she reacted EXACTLY as she should have and didn't let us rest until WE reacted.  I was given my own personal lecture by the firemen not to ignore alarms.  Mikey thought the whole thing was, "awesome."
 Adelaide now has her own typewriter and it fascinated Charlie and Ceci.  She was quite the pro showing them how it works.
This is what Elizabeth calls lunch.  A plate full of chocolate chip cookies, peppermint patties and Hershey kisses.  She almost got away with it but Mom walked in the room so there was some negotiating. 
 Today was Adelaide's music program at school.

She had a speaking part that introduced the next song.  Well done, Darlin'
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


     I belong to or follow a group on Facebook called Celebrate Hand Quilting.  The idea is to celebrate the dinosaurs.  The slow people.  I'm glad to see we aren't the extinct people.  Since I am not a Facebook contributor - leaving an occasional comment to a very few people is about the extent of it - I don't contribute any of my quilts.  I just drool over the work of others and give a round of applause when I'm really impressed.  There are quite a few beginners in that group and I'm happy to see that.
     On Wednesdays the group is encouraged to share their quilts on a given theme.  This week it was Christmas or holiday.   I haven't made an overload of Christmasy quilty things, two throws is about it, but today as I browsed through posts I remembered three little things my friend Mary made for me many years ago.
     Mary used to live across the street from us.  She is 20 years older than I am and we became fast friends.  every morning I watched for the kitchen light over her sink to go on telling me she was up for the day.  We shared many adventures - remind me someday to tell you about the elephant poop.    She and PH would meet in the middle of the street discussing  how to get stains out of clothes.  PH did/does 99% of the laundry and is much more obsessed than I am about getting it done so discussing stains in the middle of the street wasn't anything abnormal.  
     We shared food.  I was always happy to send something over for her to taste test and she was happy to send something over when she made too much.  Almost within a year of moving into the house across the street she became a widow.  Her sense of humor helped her come out of her grief and it's one of the things I enjoy so much about her.  We laugh.
     I always told her I was so impressed with her army of friends.  She had someone for everything she liked to do.  Go walking? She had a friend who liked to do that.  Go to a play or symphony? She had a friend who liked to do that.  Go picking fruit?  She had a friend who liked to do that.  Go antiquing?  She had a friend who liked to do that.  She had one friend she's known since she was an infant.  She always says she and Franny go from cradle to grave.   The thing is, not many of her friends like to do all of those things so she never had to worry about asking strawberry picking friend to go to the symphony.  Or symphony friend to go hiking.  And her friends understood that.  Her life is rich with friends. One of the things I appreciate is that she listens to me. When I need to, I get to talk.
     Now Mary is living in a retirement community and she is happy.  When I talked to her yesterday she said she was in a good place.  It's been a full year since she moved in, and she's settled.  She's such a positive person I can't imagine her not finding good in her decision.  We talked a lot while she was getting ready for the move and I kept telling her she was lucky.  "YOU made this decision.  YOU chose where you wanted to be.  YOU are the one calling all of the shots.  So many people aren't this lucky."
     For a time, Mary quilted. When her husband was in the hospital dying, she pieced a long narrow wall hanging that was framed and hung above her kitchen sink so whenever you walked in the room you saw it first.  It was her therapy.  She made small things, all by hand, and not very many of them.
   After she made a baby quilt for each of her grandchildren she stopped quilting altogether. "Been there, done that,"  she said. I like taking photos of people's hands. One day I took photos of just her hands while she was piecing one of those baby quilts.
 I put them together in this collage for a photo class I was taking at the time. 
     I was the lucky recipient of some of her small pieces.  There were several small pincushions or pillows and these Christmas pieces.  This angel pillow measures about 6 x 12 inches and is dated 1995. It sits out all year, I never put it away. 
           This was either a small table runner or a wall hanging.  I put rings on the back to hang in. 
     When I was in flag mode she made this Santa.  No date on either this one or the trees but they all three were yearly gifts.
     I miss not having her across the street anymore, but to be fair, we moved away first.  Now we talk on the phone regularly and I pick her up to go for lunch and run some errands.  But I'll always have these littles and remember her hands.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Blues

    Just in case you're wondering, it's been snowing here.  Sunday we got 12 inches.  Mathematically, it computes this way: 1 inch of rain = 10 inches of snow.  We spent yesterday wrangling with the plow company we hired.  They decided they didn't like our driveway after all and want to drop us.  Calmly and nicely I explained that they had all summer to come and look at the driveway ... all the way up ... and didn't.  Who would take us on now at this stage of the game when contracts are paid and routes assigned?   He said, "well....we'll see how it goes."  Not happy us.  I hate to even think that PH is going to have to call them tomorrow and remind them they aren't allowed to run down the driveway and dump the load on the cemetery property at the bottom of the drive.   PH is going to do it because I'm at the end of my nice.
      But today the sun is shining, it's only 24 degrees, but it's shining and I went out this morning to shovel the sides of the driveway - all the way down - and make sure that the drive was clear and salted heavily so when the sun came out today (they promised) then the driveway could dry out.  It's a long way down.

     And lest you think everything I make is wonderful and turns out every time - some friends do think that - let me tell you about the peanut butter cups.  SIL said he would like to find a recipe for them.  I said I had one and I would make some.  I can't remember using this particular recipe but it's hand written in my book so in my other life probably I did.   Melt 8 oz. milk chocolate and 1.5 cups peanut butter. Mix half of the peanut butter in the chocolate and spread half of the chocolate combo in an 8 inch pan, top with the melted peanut butter and top with the rest of the chocolate.  Simple.  But it didn't say anything about getting each layer solid before adding the next layer and I should have known better. I had a marbled mess in a pan.  I put it in the fridge to set.  About an hour into that I opened the fridge to test it and a squash on the shelf above rolled off and dropped into the peanut butter mess.  OK.  Wash off the squash.  My sleeve dipped into the peanut butter mess.  OK.  Wash off the sleeve.  I smelled like peanut butter all day but it's my cozy sweater and I like peanut butter so I wore it.
    I ended up cutting the peanut-butter-mess-now-called-fudge and made more chocolate and dipped them in and put them in the fridge to harden and will hand out napkins when they eat it.

     Then, Monday morning I broke my toe.  Just walking.  It doesn't take much for me.  The couch had a little bit to do with it.  I hobbled all day because we had a driveway to clear and dusting and vacuuming to do and I'm running out of time.  I didn't take my sock off to look at it till last night.  I used my camera zoom to be able to really see it since my knees don't bend anymore in the position I'd need in order to see it.  It sure is a pretty purple. 
     Today, after spending the morning clearing and salting the long driveway and after the refrigerator repair man was here I went for groceries for this weekend. The toe is still broken, of course, but tight socks are helping.  The kids and grands will all be here for our Christmas.  Groceries needed to be in the house today so I can start to prep tomorrow.  I got to the store and saw I grabbed my menu list, not the shopping list.  Lots of people had to walk around me as I stood there in the middle of the aisles like  the little old ladies that annoy me do while I was thinking.
     These icicles are not a good thing, by the way. I stepped out back to take a nice picture with the sun and trees and saw these monsters. 

    But in the end, today the sun is shining, the cardinals are having a snack right now and the driveway is clean.  It's all good.

Everything You Want Me to Be

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

     Everything You Want Me to Be is another one of the psychological thrillers that are dominating the book market lately.  First there was Gone Girl and then Girl on the Train and now there are many.  If you read them you learn to look for the clues because they have to be there.
     Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior who yearns to move to New York City when she graduates high school.  She wants out of her little town of football players and a Dairy Queen.  Hattie knows how to play a part, she is everything you want her to be, something different for everyone, her parents, her friends, her teachers, herself.   As she plays her life, manipulating her persona, she comes closer and closer to the end.
     Sheriff and lifelong family friend Del must investigate her murder and unravel the many Hatties to find her killer.  As with murder investigations, there are many false leads and dead ends but the reader, if paying attention, can come to the right conclusion. 
     This story is told by three people:  Del and Hattie and her high school literature teacher who recently moved to small town America from Minneapolis.  It’s a small town, there aren’t many suspects, but the ones that Del has are not what they seem either. 
     This was a quick read and I did figure out who killed Hattie but I had to stay up till 1 a.m. to be sure.