Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Early Bird Catches the ....Tums

Yes, I am up bright and early this morning -- 2 a.m. to be exact. A nasty case of acid reflux. Here is how it started --

In anticipation of more "wintery mix" on Friday, I decided that A and I needed dinner out. I develop really bad cases of cabin fever very quickly so I do my best to circumvent the issue by running around a lot prior to a "cabin event" so that when said even rolls around I am ready to stay home for a day. Usually my running around in prep involves things like stocking up on groceries (generally milk, coffee and tp), a quick stop at the book store for a stack of new mags to recycle and dinner out. Well, since Friday might turn into a "cabin event", I opted for dinner out last night.

We went to this place --

This place had been there for a while before we tried it -- our favorites being Rocco's take out or Red Brick Pizza. One evening we tried it and discovered it to be pretty decent pizza so we have gone there several times now and it's quiet, Tuscan ambiance is very nice -- we choose to sit in the corner by the fireplace. I didn't realize that Palio's was a chain until I started looking for it's logo -- pretty good for a chain.

After dinner I made a quick run to --


The mall was very quiet, being Tuesday and all, but it was enough to last me through the "winter event" -- I am not a mall person. I was between 11 and say 30 but since then, yeah, not so much.

After that, we came home, made a cuppa and sat down to watch the DVR'r segment of my favorite show

I don't know why this is my favorite show -- I dated a Mormon boy once who was a believer in polygamy and I knew at the ripe old age of 14 that concept wasn't in my life plan but still, it is a good show.

However, while I was watching said favorite show I ingested a number of these

I haven't been enjoying chocolate lately so this wasn't a good choice. I went to sleep and about 11:30 I woke up needing these
I tried to ignore it but by 2 a.m. I was wide awake, in my chair, drinking yet more tea and reading "Hide in Plain Sight" -- my new book on my Nook. Nook's, by the way, are unbelievably easy to read -- I thought it would be like reading a glary computer screen but it isn't, it is like reading a book -- so nice.

Anyway, back to sleep about 3 a.m. -- up at 6 with a whole day ahead and behind about three days worth of energy. Sigh.

Ok, this is the most ridiculous post I have ever written. It reminds me of one of those story books when I was a child that had pics in the middle of the text to help new readers. Yeah, well, I feel pretty childish right now to tell you the truth. Plus, this post is all about my weakness, indulgence and lack of control so I am not going to post on FB that I am "blogging" - instead this is just for me to look at when I feel the need to over-indulge -- a record of just what can happen when there are too many olives, too many cookies and too little control.

What will I get accomplished today on too little sleep and still sporting a squeamish tummy? Probably not a whole lot -- I don't get a whole lot done on a good day -- but I will probably find time to reactivate my Weight Watchers account which I foolishly deleted about three weeks ago because I wasn't participating. Bad choice -- both lack of participation and cancellation -- so, today I will probably be back tracking and starting over. I wish I could, for once, just achieve and not constantly be starting over but that seems to be Melissa's way -- blah.

Ok, this is the end of the this post -- peppermint tea and a new beginning -- after a nap. Yeah.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ah, To Be Three Again -- I guess

Yesterday was spent at our son's house celebrating our grandson's third birthday. It was actually a pretty quiet little party. One invited family was suffering from "flu like symptoms" and decided they best not attend which is understandable and considerate. So, there were only three children there -- the birthday boy, his sister and his buddy. But, the three of them were lively enough.

The theme of the party was "firetruck" -- one of N's favorite things right now. So, Mom fashioned a firetruck cake from pound cake, oreo cookies, gumdrops and rolled fondant icing. Since she didn't want the kids to partake of too much red food coloring, she made this a Fort Worth firetruck which are blue and white. She also had "dalmation" cupcakes which were cupcakes with white frosting with crumbled chocolate cookies mixed in to make them look spotted and they were topped with icing fire hydrants made by birthday boy's dad. I didn't get a photo of those, however, but trust me, they were cute.

There were gifts galore

Balloons to be popped, friends and aunts

Gramps and Granny B

And a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Am Impulsive and Weak

Ever heard that expression "the mind is willing but the flesh is weak"? I have heard that used in many contexts but never with quilting -- until now.

I love to quilt -- if I am in the mood and things don't get all glitchy. I also have a very, very short attention span. Right now I have a quilt on the machine, two on the cutting table and one in my head and guess who isn't in the mood to quilt? Yep. I think I do ok with the cutting (to a point) and the piecing but when it comes to spreading the whole mess out on a large, flat surface (the floor comes to mind) I just go all ughy. In the first place, if I put it on the floor there is a huge chance there will be a cat in the middle of it in a nanosecond. Again, if I put it on the floor I risk never being able to get up from pinning it assuming I can get down there to begin with. So, I asked for a lovely cutting table for Christmas a couple of years ago to help with the process which does help, provided I don't want to create a quilt for my king-sized bed. I may be employing Georgia Bonesteel's techniques for quilting as I go if I tackle that project again.

However, with all these drawbacks in my physical ability and my mental prowess, I still love to quilt. There is something about creating a blanket that just sends lovey feelings all over me, probably because it reminds me of my great-grandma who essentially got me to thinking about it oh, long around 1954-55. I mean, come on, the great-great granddaughter of pioneer quilters just can't drop the ball, right? So, on I go.

I have learned a few things along the way though. I have learned that with all our new fangled gadgets for making like easier, I still liked the evenings at g-grandma's watching her piece quilt blocks with nothing but a needle and a thread and a pair of scissors. In dull light, I might add. I have never attempted hand piecing although I would love to but figure the short attention span might not be a good match for it -- I am, after all, a woman of this instant gratification generation. Still, I am a purist and think the hand piecers/quilters still have it right. However, after cutting out a quilt with scissors one Christmas and finding that all my strips were off between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch, I gave up on the scissors and went back to the rotary cutter. That was better. However, the rotary cutter and ruler aren't my best friends -- I seem to be a bit ruler dysfunctional but it is still better than scissors -- I have just learned to jiggle things a bit to make them fit. Of course, I do lots of strip piecing and stuff like that, I don't really cut out quilt squares and piece things together -- I take the easy way out.

In any event, I caved in and bought one of these today.

It is called Accuquilt Go and is a die cutter for fabric. I have seen one used and I have watched the video. It all looks very promising and not nearly so messy as my rotary cutting. I have read many reviews and the only negative one I found was today, AFTER the purchase. I haven't tried it out yet -- I refuse to unpack it until I am further along with the ones I have already started -- otherwise I will just get even more distracted and have three more projects in various stages of completion.

I will report back in when I have had some experience with the thing but I will say that sassy pic of the lady holding it with one hand -- yeah, I had to have somebody carry the box to the car for me -- it only weighs 15 pounds but -- well, I'm just sayin'.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Territory Explored and Books, Books and More Books

My hubby and children never have a problem buying me gifts. I have a running wish list of books, quilting/needlecraft supplies, DVD's and CD'S for them to choose from as well as one of my favorite things -- gift cards.

This year I made hubby a Christmas list of reasonable items. Ok, the Nook wasn't reasonable and probably not even logical (except in My mind) but the rest of the list was quite manageable in all senses of the word.

One of the things on my list was this book.

It is the cutest book of non-traditional baby quilts. It shows examples of quilts using free forms, non-traditional piecing, embroidery, gorgeous fabrics and many examples of "why didn't I think of that". It supplies patterns and templates and tutorials by the quiltmakers themselves.

The neatest thing it contains is websites, blogsites and etsy sites for all the contributors. I spent last evening visiting each of the websites, completely enjoying myself and have every intention of adding them to my blogroll. Such talent is a joy to look at. Linda Kopp did an outstanding job with this book -- it is full of information of all sorts and is a delight to read. For me, it makes me want to be brave and just cut into that piece of fabric and do something daring!

Then, right after Christmas we ventured from our familiar area and took a long ride to Frisco to visit Stonebriar Center.
Stonebriar Center is a very large mall with every store imaginable. There is a movie theater, a Cheesecake Factory, Restoration Hardware, Nordstroms, a Lego store -- you name it, it is there. So, where was the first place hubby and I went? Yep, you guessed it -- Barnes and Noble. This particular B&N wasn't any larger than the two I frequent in our area of town but it had a number of different things. It had Nook accessories. Of course, they didn't have any left since it was right after Christmas but they DID have them, unlike our B&N which barely has a display of the pamphlets for product itself. They also had a huge selection of craft books from woodworking to quilting and everything in between. Of course, I needed a sourvenir of my visit to this monumental mall so I chose this--
This is a lovely little book by Susan Briscoe showing examples of blocks done in the Asian inspiration. They look so complicated but when they are broken down, they are so basic! The fabrics are gorgeous, the instructions easy to follow and the end results for the quilts are just outstanding. I am thinking of making one for myself even though I had sworn off large quilts -- I might have to rescind that notion.

It was a fun day in Frisco. Now, my next trip is to North Richland Hills to one of my favorite quilt stores -- The Quilter's Stash.
I love this quilt store for lots of reasons. In the first place, it is bright! I have a couple of other favorites but they are so dark inside you want to take the fabric outside to see the colors well. Not at Quilters Stash, however. Another reason I love this store is that the people who work there are knowledgable and are more than willing to help you. I have learned a lot from them just talking to them while they cut my fabric. Also, it is a very well stocked store -- they have everything you need and they are the only store that I know of in the area that carries Quilter's Dream batting which is the very best batting in the entire world. I feel a visit coming on soon -- like maybe tomorrow!

So, all this talking about quilting has me inspired. I am off to work on my three projects and, hopefully, I will have something to show you before too long.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Summer Crossing

DONE! Told you it would be a quick read.

Some Things Never Change

It is true, some things never change -- I guess the way we do things is just imbedded in our DNA -- or something. At any rate, I have always been an impulsive, or maybe compulsive, reader. Reading has always been a fascination for me ever since I sat next to my mother while she read the newspaper and I would ask her what it felt like to be able to read. When I went to school I was a quick learner and I was probably the only child in my class that looked forward to the required reading list passed out at the beginning of the term. I found our public library to be a completely magical place and loved to spend time there. I had my favorite authors, even at age 8, and would strive to read all their titles.

However, I have never been able to just sit down and read every day. I would either sit and read for entire days or let many days pass between books. It would go in phases and it still does. Right now I am in my "read everything I can as fast as I can" stage. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that I have so many "to be read" books filling my two book cases and my window seat that I had to go out and buy three more bookcases or if I am anticipating my Nook being delivered tomorrow and don't want to forget about my hard copies. It could have to do with the fact that it is my least messy pasttime as well. I don't take that lightly.

At any rate, I am starting a new book today -- "Summer Crossing" by Truman Capote. It is set in post World War II New York and it follows a young socialite named Grady McNeil who has been left alone in her parents penthouse for the summer. It is a light romance which turns serious and, apparently, the young woman must make serious decisions that will affect her life as well as the lives of everyone else. Sounds like serious business to me.

I tend to read the reviews on the backs of the books and here are a few from this one:

"The writing is nervously alive with the excitement of Capote enjoying his own strengthening powers." -- Entertainment Weekly

"An outstanding piece of literature...a page-turning story." -- The Sunday Oklahoman

"Witness the coming together of Truman Capote's voice, the electric-into-neon blaze that is surely one of the premier styles of postwar American literature.: -- The Washington Post Book World

"Summer Crossing" was Capote's first book, apparently written while Capote was working for "The New Yorker". It was lost, or thought to be destroyed, but was, in fact, rescued from the rubbish by a house-sitter occupying an apartment that Capote had once resided in. The work was put up for auction at Sotheby's in 2004 and when to the publisher in 2005.

It is a short work and I am sure it will be a quick read. I have a feeling this is going to be one of my "all day reading" days.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Amish Gathering

Although I wrote exemplary book reports in school, I am a lousy book reviewer. I find that I only explain the plots and never get into character analysis, setting, subplots or any of that so I will make this brief.

I just finished "An Amish Gathering -- Life in Lancaster County" by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron. It is actually a compilation of three novellas depicting the life of different families in the same area. Each story contains elements of loss, love, redemption and, ultimately, a happy ending.

I really enjoy reading the Amish novels and I am not sure why. I think I like them because so many of them take place in Pennsylvania and I identify with PA because of my family who were decidedly NOT Amish. In any event, these novellas seem to be a bit edgier than most of the others I have read. One deals with anger and abuse, one deals with friendships outside the community and the desire to have a career other than the traditional Amish wife and one deals with mental health issues with a bit of pride and jealousy thrown it. These novellas actually seems more real than what I have read in these types of books before -- there is a real human element in them.

I enjoyed this collection and read it very quickly, for me. I will probably seek out more works of the authors.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, PaPa

Yesterday was my grandfather's birthday. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on January 10, 1896. Even when I was a child that seemed like a very long time ago. He was born to James and Dinah Davies who had immigrated to Pennsylvania from Blaina, Wales in 1890. Half of his siblings were born in Wales and half were born in the United States and two of his siblings died as babies are are buried somewhere in Wales.

My grandfather's surname was really Davies but a clerical error in the local Catholic school resulted in the "e" being dropped from his name -- not, however from his brother's name -- the brother who stood in line right before him! But, because of that error, Jim was forever more a Davis.

When he was born they had gaslights in their house, outdoor plumbing and he rode a horse to the nearby school they called "the sister school". His feet were so small that he wore the same oxfords the nuns did. When he was eleven he left the sister school and went to work in the coal mines with his father and his brothers, bringing their pay home to Mam. Sounds like a scene out of "How Green Was My Valley" doesn't it. I am sure it was similar.

I think my grandfather was a little scrapper -- he was always in trouble -- so much that his older brother, Louis, had to pick him up from school to keep him in line. I think Louis kept all the kids in line because he carried a whip with him and, from all accounts, he knew how to use it.

In 1914, James Davies passed away leaving Dinah with still young children. In 1918, Jim and brother Dan joined the army and Jim was sent to San Antonio, Texas for basic training. That is where he met my grandmother, Madge Foreman.

In 1918 they married, lived in Scranton for a while and eventually ended up in San Antonio where they raised four children and lived out their lives rather uneventfully. Jim passed away in 1969 with Madge following in 1987.

I remember my grandfather well -- he was short, about 5'4", and small. He was gruff and no nonsense but I think he really liked his five granddaughters. He didn't fuss over us but he took care of us when we needed him to. I remember spending a Saturday in the backyard with him as he picked up pecans that had fallen and as he picked them up I did the same -- the only thing different was he put his in a bucket and I replanted mine in the flower beds. He grumped about those trees coming up in the flower beds for years after. He didn't really get angry though. I used to love sitting at the kitchen table having "tea and toast" or "cheese toast", which was really Welsh Rarebit, with him. I still have the table. He used to take me into the garage and show me where he had the stash of "emergency" money, divided up by denomination in baby food jars --jars of dimes, quarters, nickles and silver dollars. I still have some of the dimes. He was a very precise little man.

I remember many things about my grandfather and I wish I had had the foresight to ask him about his youth, his life in Scranton, his mother and father but I didn't -- I was only 19 when he died and was much more interested in my boyfriend and going to college. I have had to find out all those things on my own with the help of Joy. So, I actually know more about him now than I did then, I just wish I had learned it from him.

Papa would be 114 years old which sounds very old to me. However, when you think about it, in his life span, they went from gaslights to electric lights, from the horse to cars and he was fortunate enough to live to see the first man on the moon. He lived during an incredible time of growth and development and advancement -- more so than any of the rest of us.

So, happy birthday, PaPa -- I wish you were here to see me write this on a computer, put up a photo that was sent to me electronically by Joanie and put it out for all to read. I wonder what you would think about it -- about us -- about our world today. It is something to think about.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Off to a Running Start

As I promised myself, I started on my new cross stitch project -- "Fuji" by Terrance Nolan. I began this on 16 count evenweave but after a few stitches realized that my eyes would be better suited to 14 ct. aida. So, I started again. Now, I am not good at figuring out how to convert sizes so I figured I would just use a really big piece of fabric. I bought the biggest packaged piece I could find which is 30" X 36". Needless to say, when you begin in the center, this is more than a little unwieldy. At any rate, I should have plenty of fabric.

I am going about this project a bit different than I usually do. While I am starting in the center I am completing one grid square at a time. The pattern is divided up into five parts, each part being on a different page so I started with the top, left hand side of the pattern but began at the bottom, right hand side which is the corner in the middle. Confusing, I know. At any rate, the first grid square is about 36 squares and that is what I have completed. That 36 squares was made up of four different colored threads -- I can tell this is going to take a long, long time. That is ok, though, because this is the first project I have done that I haven't been under some sort of deadline to finish. That is sort of throwing me off a bit but I hope to be able to enjoy making the picture rather than just trying to get it done.

I haven't taken a photo yet because there really isn't much to take a photo of -- 36 squares of varying shades of beige/brown with a little grey/blue in it. I will take a photo tomorrow when I get a bit further.

I also started reading "An Amish Gathering -- Life in Lancaster County". It is a work of three Amish novellas written by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron. I was in B&N the other day, looking for Nook accessories, and it caught my eye -- again, a catchy cover. I am really glad the Nook shows the cover of the books otherwise I would never know how to choose one!

At any rate, I am a few pages into the first story. It is about a young Amish woman who dreams of being a writer and writing about the English who seem, in her eyes, to have problems with religion. Of course, while the young woman is busy trying to be a writer her sister and her mother are busy trying to get her married so her rebellious streak is rearing its ugly head. As I said, only a few pages in so I am not sure if I am going to enjoy it or not.

I also started trying to keep a journal. Ha! Not doing any better job now than the million other times I have tried but I will keep after it and hopefully not give up after the first three days.Add Image

After thinking about my time management "issues" I decided to try to budget my time to do more of what I want to do. I think I have done pretty well for the last couple of days. I feel better about doing what I have to do when I make time to do what I want to do.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Off to a Good Start

As I said in a previous post -- I don't believe in resolutions for the New Year. I did do some soul searching, however, and realized that I don't use my time well. There are things I love to do but I procrastinate terribly -- that translates into watches too much television. So, I decided to make a concerted effort -- within my perameter of living one day at a time -- to do more of the things I love to do and quit worrying about the things I don't -- that translates into worry about housework.

One of the things I love is quilting. I have two projects going but can't show you here because they are a secret! I will show you photos eventually, just not now.

Another thing I love is cross stitch. Four or five years ago I bought some patterns by Terrance Nolan. The names of the patterns are "Fuji" and "Haiku" and they are the most beautiful birds I have ever seen -- they work up very nicely as I saw the models. I did start these once but was using 16 ct. even weave and, after about 20 stitches, I realized that is just too small for these eyes so I bought 14 ct. aida and intend to start over. Since I hadn't gotten very far I don't feel bad about it. I will be doing the work without a hoop as I am finding that my fingers don't do well while clutching things for long periods of time -- like the remote control or the Wii controller.

I will begin with "Fuji" as seen below. He is really a gorgeous little guy and I will post photos as I progress. I don't think this will be a quick finish.

When I get done with "Fuji" I will start on "Haiku". I am sorry the photo is so small but it is just as lovely. Actually, the patterns don't look too difficult, lots of colors, and some specialty threads -- I am looking forward to it.

Another thing I am trying to do more of is read. I was always an avid reader and have somehow let the pasttime slide. However, mid-month I am getting my Christmas present -- a Nook, the e-reader introduced by Barnes and Noble. I can hardly wait and have already purchased a cover for it that looks like this--

Another thing I am going to try to do more of is cook. It is difficult with an overweight me and a diabetic husband who doesn't like leftovers but I am trying. So, with that said, I am off to bake a cake for lunch tomorrow. I hope it freezes well since neither one of us are supposed to be eating it!! Maybe I will post a pic of it --

Friday, January 01, 2010

January 1, 2010

Today is the first day of, not only a new year, but a new decade as well. I have never been one to think much about the changing of the year except to wonder how many checks I will mess up writing the wrong date.

However, it was brought to my attention that this year is not only the beginning of a new decade but it is the end of one, as well. This is the end of my 50's. I will have completed six decades.

Wow, I don't know what to do with that.

I don't even remember my 50's. Let's see, I was busy with the last stages of child rearing -- college, broken legs, broken hearts, new loves, weddings, babies, new houses for all, new cars, smashed cars, surgery, fear, prayer, tears, laughter and most of all, love.

But, I don't remember my age -- or what I wore.

Clothes have always been an necessary evil. I was never at the "right age" for the clothing I was interested in. The last time I remember being what I thought was correct was probably junior high school -- Bobbie Brooks and soft socks -- not difficult to achieve. I remember trying to figure out what to wear to work -- it shouldn't have been that hard but it was at a time when slacks were just becoming acceptable so that just sort of threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. Then, I remember my mother telling me that 27 was the best age -- the clothes were great, you were adult and could dress up but still be young.

Hm...27, I was wearing rice cereal and formula most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of it but still, not exactly the picture that my mother painted.

So it went for the next few years, I was a stay at home mom, IT DIDN'T REALLY MATTER!

So, here I am. Almost -- well, almost not 59 anymore and the question still comes up, what am I supposed to be at this age. I realize that question emcompasses more than just attire. It also relates to attitudes, concerns, acceptable appearance, societal expectations -- wow, who knew that a birthday meant more than a cake and some gifts.

I don't feel my age -- well, my right knee does. I am shocked everytime I look in the mirror and see silvery hair -- THIN, silvery hair rather than the thick, dark auburn mane I used to possess. If I don't use the 10X mirror I don't see the little wrinkles but if I don't use the 10X mirror I can't see to put on my makeup. I realize I am wearing cardigan sweaters more and more -- that is definitely an "old" lady thing. It is like the upcoming decade is sucking me up into the mist of old age! I must fight this and fight it now!

So, I have been doing a lot of thinking today -- what does this age mean? I think it means what you want it to mean. I guess for some it will be Vicki Lawrence's character "Mama". For others it will be Meryl Streep or Paula Deen. I think that in this day and age the concept of age is going the way of newspapers and books and pay phones and corner mailboxes. Age, or aging, just doesn't exist -- after all, isn't 40 the new 30? Hmm. then I guess 60 is the new 50 --- damn, that still sounds old. But, I think my mom was right -- age is a matter of the mind and with all the technology and "stuff" we have out there today, age isn't really as much of an issue these days.

So, I think I am going to approach this decade the same as I have the past ones. I am going to ignore it. And just think, with debit cards, I don't even have to worry about messing up the date on the check. Ain't technology grand!