Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday at the Movies 5/30

In the 1995 movie about identity theft and computer fraud, The Net, what radio show host played Sandra Bullock's ex lover/psychiatrist?

Answer on Tuesday!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Like I needed another swap....

I've been seeing this all over the land of blogs--Pay it Forward--so I finally succumbed and joined the newly pregnant Audrey's challenge. So here's the deal:

{The Rules}
1. Be one of the first THREE (3) bloggers to leave a comment on this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me - something crafty or yummy, who knows?!
2. Winners must post this challenge on their blog, meaning that they will Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift -anything!- for the first 3 bloggers who leave a comment on YOUR post about this giveaway!
3. The gift that you send to your 3 friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And remember: It’s the Spirit and the Thought that Counts!
4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate Linky Love!If you are not one of the Top 3 Commenters on this post, you can still play along. Go ahead and start your own Pay It Forward chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same.
REMEMBER... Pay it forward!

Okay, who wants to play along?
I don't moderate your posts, so the first three to comment will be the 3 in this chain. I'm going to bed now, and will check when I get up for work. Later!

(P.S. Scroll down for this week's 7 Quick Takes Friday.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday 5/29

Jennifer at Conversion Diary hosts a weekly blog subject: 7 Quick Takes Friday, in which we list 7 random topics that weren't enough for a full blog post. Here is my edition for this week--plus one.

1. DD and I spent quite a bit of time last weekend watching nature at work in my front yard. At one point there were 2 white squirrels,

3 gray squirrels, a pair of mourning doves, a pair of chipmunks, a cardinal

and a rabbit

all feeding at or around the bird feeder, prompting my daughter to declare the yard looked like a Disney cartoon. We tried to identify a distinctive bird call by searching the internet, but could only narrow it down to probably one of the song sparrows. But it was relaxing for a gal who's had a tough couple of months.

Today, all four of the known white squirrels in the neighborhood were feeding in my yard at once. If you click the pictures below, you can see them just a little better.

2. Since it rained most of the weekend, we spent the time indoors or in the rocking chairs on the screened in back porch. There's something soothing about rocking back and forth, back and forth, talking and talking late into the night. We lit a candle in the wrought iron cage-type holder that has the outlines of flowers and a hummingbird. It casts wonderful flickering shadows onto the wall.

3. Actually, we are 4 inches surplus on rainfall for the month of May. As of Wed., we've had 8 inches for the month, 3 of them falling on the 14th. My poor garden is hanging in there, waiting for the sun. The Swiss chard is looking pretty pathetic. I don't think it's going to survive.

4. While DD was here, I made that strawberry sauce as planned. Instead of sugar, I used Splenda, which was fine, but next time, I'm going to cut the vanilla flavoring back by half--it was too strong for us. However, we managed to pour it over some angel food cake and top with a scoop of cool whip to get it down.

5. Since I never got around to making cookies or anything for the vet and his staff at Christmas, I made a batch of Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings and carried them over this week. One of the gals said he'd just finished complaining that all he had for lunch was a little salad. I believe we shot his saved calories all to you-know-where. Ah, but he and his staff have always been so good to us and the dogs, they deserved it.

6. Speaking of sugar, I had my teeth-cleaning appointment this week. My dentist specializes in cosmetic dentistry and dental-phobes like me. Hallelujah, it was just your run-of-the-mill cleaning--no new problems! Not too long ago I got a letter in the mail advertising their "Dental Stimulus Package", offering 10% off on any cosmetic or repair work done through the end of May. Yep, his business is suffering in this economy. I let them know how much I appreciated the joke, since even in good economic times I do not voluntarily ask them to assault my mouth. My kind of dental stimulus package would be they one where they pay ME to come in.

7. Lastly, one of our new employees is pregnant with her first child. I'm not sure just when she's due, but she looks to be about 7 months along. Today we're having a baby shower for her here at work. She doesn't want to know the baby's gender, so anything goes. I started a baby quilt for her this week, but only got the top pieced, so I'll have to deliver it to her next week. It's bright!

I'm hoping she likes it.

8. Plus one--Today is the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation. This is so wrong.
You can join in with your list if you'd like. Just swing over to Conversion Diary after 6am central daylight time today to check out the guidelines and add your URL to the list, then peruse some of the other entries.

Remember, tomorrow is Saturday at the Movies!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Just a Blip on Your Radar

We had a wonderful weekend with DD--walks, long talks, funny movies and a little nature watching. I'd tell you more, but I'm whupped tonight and headed for bed.

Stash report was zero in and zero out.

Saturday at the Movies will resume this weekend.

Good night!

Friday, May 22, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

Every week, Jennifer at Conversion Diary hosts 7 Quick Takes Friday--bits and pieces of your week that don't inspire a whole blog to themselves. Check it out here.

1. No major events, disasters, mistakes, weather news, etc. makes for a nice peaceful week, but boring blogging.

2. I'm working on my lawn this year, trying to get it whipped into shape, and along comes the AT&T dude and makes orange stripes on my yard and driveway. And I don't even USE AT&T. Even cutting the grass didn't get the stripes out. At least he could have done it in the flower beds for more color!

3. I'm checking around for some good hummus recipes, as I am currently craving fresh veggies and hummus. My favorites are a chipotle blend I found at the grocery store, and one with pine nuts, but at over $4.00/container, it's time to make my own.

4. The truck market and tailgate market are both open again. One is on Thurs. from 3-6 (where I got the prawn last year), and the other on Saturday mornings from about 7am til noon. Not much is available yet, besides herbs and flowering plants, baked goods and home canned items, but it won't be long before the parking lots are filled with fresh fruits and veggies. One of my favorite vendors makes awesome pickled okra, and yummy fig preserves, but she didn't have any last weekend. She promised to locate the other jars and bring them in, and I told her I'm holding her to that because DD loves pickled okra and.....

5. DD is coming home for the weekend!! We haven't seen her since Christmas, and she's had a tough month, so she's coming home for some parental pampering. Lisa at work was sweet enough to swap nights with me so I'll have Sat. and Sun. nights off before DD leaves Monday morning---taking whatever jars of pickled okra happen to be in the pantry.

6. In preparation for her homecoming, I finally got around to replacing the burnt-out light by the garage--or tried to. As soon as I put my hand up there to unscrew the bulb, a couple of wasps buzzed a warning at me. I apologized profusely--then zapped them with the can of wasp and hornet spray and took off into the house. Today I was able to replace the bulb without argument.
Moral of this story? Don't wait 2 weeks in the spring to replace an outside bulb, or the little buzzers will think you've invited them to move in.

7. Have you seen this new blog? It's entitled "Crafting for Health" and involves stories of how crafting has made a difference in the mental and sometimes physical health of the crafter. All the entries so far are terrific, but the latest really hit home with me. The statements "When we create we are defying destruction", and " It doesn’t matter what you create. It doesn’t have to win awards. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. It’s not about the finished product. It’s about taking the creative journey" were so right on with how I feel when I walk into my sewing room and lose myself in fabric--even for a few minutes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stash Buster Report Week 20

I need to find a better system for keeping up!

So as far as I can remember, since my last report (week 17) I've added 4.5 yards of fabric, mostly in fat quarter lengths, gifted 1/2 yard of fish fabric to Mary at Quilt Hollow, and used approximately 1 1/2 yds fabric making my table topper and it's accompanying table runner, finished last night:

(Oh, yeah, I need to count this in Jacquie's Spring to Finish challenge.)

There has to be a better system!


Added past 3 weeks: 4.5 yds
Added year to date: 16.5 yards

Used/gifted past 3 weeks: 2 yards
Used/gifted year to date: 7.5 yds.

Net total: 9 yards in the red.

Besides Crazymomquilts's 9-patch one-a-day quilt-along, I have signed up again for the 4 Seasons Quilt Swap. Have you seen the project this time? Check it out! This should use up more stash in a hurry, especially if one does 2 batches of 20 blocks each. If you like the colorblock we're doing this time, there are about 20 spaces left, so feel free to sign up!

Sleep tight, all!

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

I've been reading Jennifer over at Conversion Diary for almost a year now, and find her conversion from atheist to devout Catholic fascinating--and I'm a Baptist! She almost convinces me to change that, though.

Anyway, she hosts "7 Quick Takes Friday", little blurbs in your life that come and go through the week, and after over 6 months, I have decided to join in.

So here goes:

1. We have a wonderful neighbor, Ron, who cuts the grass with his riding mower and used to do some edging for us, too, but, as he had polio many years ago, his legs have been particularly unsteady this year, so all he's done is mow. The last two days I've managed to lop off some of the bottom branches of our Bradford pear trees, collect and dump them all, cut down some underbrush on our side of the vacant lot next door, and edge about half the yard. We have a corner lot, so there is lots more to go, but that'll have to wait for another offday. I must say, I'm appreciating Ron even more right now.

2. Got the physician's bill for the stress echo this week:GULP. My part of the actual test (our insurance is a joke), was a little over $400.00. However, the physician, who was in the room for all of maybe 10 minutes, charges $1700+ for his part. And my share, after the discount, is over $1500.00. Sheesh. There goes what was left of my tax refund after paying The People. I'm really glad nothing was wrong with my heart, but dang!

3. Last Saturday after getting off work, a co-worker and I headed over to an annual church yard sale. It was HUGE! And everything was priced really cheaply. But for all that, I only came home with a handful of books, some plant hangers that hang on the deck, and this little 8ft stretch of wire edging. (Sorry it's so hard to see).

As Tandi doesn't see why she can't just mosey through the flowerbed, I'm hoping this will discourage that behavior. I'm going to keep my eyes open for some more, or maybe I'll just stop at the dollar store to see if there's another 8ft length for the remainder of the sidewalk there.

4. The weekend before, however, I hit several smaller yard sales and came home with a bookoodle of things:

This heavy pitcher and 5 glasses with fruits on them,

Some Halloween items,

A bedside lamp (I'm going to change the shade) to replace the top-heavy one in the guest room and a cute oil lamp,

4 yards of fabric I'm going to combine with some denim to make grocery totes,

And a table and two chairs for my kitchen. I had an unsteady little round table I picked up for $15.00 at a motel sale about 5 years ago, but I like this one better, as the sides both fold down. The chairs are so obviously 70s, but they are comfortable, so who cares? We never eat at that table; it's there to put the computer on for recipes or for someone to sit and talk while I'm cooking.
The other table is out on the back porch right now, between 2 rocking chairs, so there is a place to lay a book or a glass when someone needs to rock their troubles away.

Now if I could just find a composter!

5. I'm having trouble uploading photos from my camera to the computer. The Windows program tells me there are 509 new photos, even though they are already in my folders, and attempts to upload them all each time I plug in the camera. The HP program has to upload every single postage-stamp photo on the memory card for me to select the newest ones to post, since the others were uploaded using the Windows program. I think I'm just going to break down and buy another memory card and start over.

6. I have ten 9-patches done in Amandajean's challenge, and though I'm a little behind, I'm grateful that it has made me go into the sewing room, even for only 15 minutes a day, and sew. Before, I would put off sewing anything unless I had a huge block of time, which is self-defeating, because who has huge blocks of time to sew? Not me. Now I can whip up one of these in just a few minutes and know that in a couple more months, I'll have enough for a quilt top.

7. I don't remember how I found this site, but this strawberry sauce is something I'm going to try this week. It's strawberry season here, and though I have lots sliced and in the freezer from last year, I think I'm going to buy some more, just so I can make this easy sauce, and leave the other for cakes, etc.

Okay, that's my Quick Takes entry for this week. To read others, head on over to Jennifer's place.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two-Color Binding Tutorial

In response to a couple of questions, here is how I did my 2-color binding. It seems tricky, but it's really very easy.

When I decided to make my table topper reversible, I realized I wanted the back to stay all yellow, but I didn't want a yellow binding for the front of the quilt. (I've always heard that a little yellow gives the quilt some "pop", but a yellow binding would have been too much for me.) Blue seemed to be the best color for the front, so that's what I chose.

This assumes you do as I do, which is to machine sew the binding to the front first, then hand stitch it to the back. The following directions will give you a 1/2" binding.

First, decide which is your front binding (the blue), and cut it 1 and 1/4" wide.
Then, cut the back binding fabric (yellow) 2 and 1/4" wide.

Stitch the two together with a 1/4" seam.

Fold your fabric in half, and sew the front binding (blue) to the front of the fabric, right sides together, using a 1/2" seam.

Then flip it over and stitch the back (yellow) down, checking frequently to make sure the seamline stays right in the middle.

If I've explained it clearly, you should now have a two-colored binding on your quilt.

If you keep the ratio the same, you should be able to figure out the measurements for a 1/4" binding if you want to.
(Personally, I hate math, so I'm quite happy with the 1/2 binding.)

Now, go wow your guild!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Squirrels and such

Remember the white squirrel at my bird feeder? He's been back, with all his friends. Two days ago I counted 4 white squirrels and 5 gray ones out in the yard, munching on the squirrel food I put out there.

Evidently that wasn't enough and the little guys got greedy--ALL of them. They learned to climb up the boxwood and leap over to the feeders, and were no longer frightened by my banging on thr window, or making loud noises with the window open. So I moved the pole 6 inches farther away, and then another 6 inches, but to no avail.

Finally today, I moved it out to the middle of the yard, next to the rosebushes and away from anything they could climb. It's been amusing to watch them climb up the boxwoods again, only to look around in utter bewilderment when the pole wasn't there.

Now my little feathered friends can eat again.

In other news, my friend Connie has done remarkably well after the rocky start following her open heart surgery. There's a chance she will be discharged today. They have a place at the Nazarene House and will stay there a few days so she can be at her follow-up appointments. Thanks everyone, for your prayers and good wishes.

Have you read about the quilt-along at Crazy Mom Quilts? It's a 9-patch a day through the summer. I decided to play along, making a child's quilt out of brights, and was cutting fabrics while talking to my daughter on the phone late last night when I cut a chunk out of my left forefinger. It bled forever and I couldn't pull the tissue away without causing it to bleed all over again. I finally got a bandaid on it with the Telfa side on it so it wouldn't stick to the wound, then grabbed a strip of the white sheet I cut up for the curtains and managed to wrap it around and tie it with my good hand and teeth. I felt like a civil war nurse. Or a character from The Waltons, here in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

I did manage to sew my 2 blocks, and fortunately, I have been cutting 2 1/2 squares from scrap fabrics for a couple of years now, so will have plenty to choose from for a while.

But typing is time-consuming, so please forgive me for not answering your comments for a while. I will be visiting, though!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Winding down

Only one more day of vacation left. Sigh. I could get used to this life sooooo easily--except if I didn't work, I couldn't afford this life!

Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio is extending her "Spring to Finish" challenge for another month, since we still have a month of spring left. AND she has prizes--always a great little motivator! So here is my first finish for Chapter 2:

It's a table topper made from those half square triangles I found when organizing my sewing room. And, since pastel "Easter egg color" season is almost over, I made it reversible.

I'm planning to paint my kitchen a soft yellow, so I think this will go nicely!

It's the first time I've tried making a bi-colored binding, and I think it turned out pretty well!

Now to get to the other 432 UFOs hiding in the room!

I almost finished the curtains for my room, too. I hung them to decide where to hem them, and just couldn't bear to take them down right away.

I didn't think about lining them, and that probably would have been a good idea, as the seams are visible when the light shines through, but I'm not going back and changing that now.

If I'd had another daisy sheet, I would have made them a little wider, too, and I've considered adding the remainder of that eyelet dust ruffle to the long center sides, but I don't think that would suit the tab top style. No matter. I love how they look up there--so much lighter and happier than the old ones.

I realized I was running low on certain sizes of my machine needles, so stopped by the local quilt shop Monday while running errands.

I should have known better. I should have known I wouldn't get off that easily. Look what jumped into my hands:

In my defense, the whites in my stash were alarmingly low, as opposed to the beiges and naturals, so I had her cut two yards for me. The others, well, what can I say?

Yep, gotta go back to work soon.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lasagna Gardening

So the lasagna garden is in and doing well. It's my first real garden, other than the herbs and cherry tomatoes I've grown on the deck and once, when I had 3 tomato plants in Albuquerque. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that most, if not all of the plants will make it.

This garden holds 2 tomato plants, 3 jalapeno pepper plants, 4 bell pepper plants, 2 swiss chards, 3 buttercrunch lettuce, and 4 squash plants. I might try putting in a chunk of green onion later, because I've heard they can just be put in the ground and they'll grow.

And no, lasagna gardening has nothing to do with the ingredients, but rather, the layers. I first read of this on Joanna's blog "Applique Today".
She started one last summer, planted in it right away, and harvested some awesome tomatoes.

I bought the book and began saving newspaper and cardboard boxes. It's great in that there is no digging or tilling or building frames for raised bed gardens, etc. I took the rotting lumber that outlined the front flower bed and stacked them next to the gravel drive, because the ground slopes. If it had been level, I wouldn't even have needed to do that.

Basically, you start with a layer of flattened cardboard or thick layers of newspapers and lay them where you want your garden to be. Wet them down well, then begin layering peat moss, composts, mulch, bonemeal, grass clippings, etc., wetting each layer and repeating until the area is 18-24" deep. You can plant directly into it, or you can make one of these in the fall and let it "cook" over winter. As I didn't have any compost started, or chopped leaves or grass clippings, I bought all my stuff from Lowe's and a local gardening shop. I won't need more than peat moss and maybe coarse mulch from now on, as I plan to start a compost heap.

I decided to curve the front flower beds, as I like the cottage style, and it's easier to mow on a curve than angles. Here's what the front looked like last spring, and this is how I've changed it:

I had done several layers last fall, and added to it slightly this year, but still had to dig a hole through the newspaper to add this year's plantings to the front. As I'm extending it out over part of the lawn, I again laid out layers of wet newspaper, then layers of peat moss, mulch, and some mushroom compost and wetting it all down. Another layer of coarse mulch over the old and new, and I think I'll leave it alone until fall.

I couldn't resist adding some sweet William, lavender and bachelor buttons to the older area, though. I've never seen bachelor buttons before; is this not a weird, but cute flower?

The lantana is spreading and blooming beautifully, but the gardenia bush looks as if it may not make it. (Last year I'd planted the sweetshrub there, but it didn't last, and then I moved the gardenia bush to that spot. It did well until about a month ago, and then started getting brown. I don't know what it is about that particular spot!) The tattered hosta was under the bird feeder and being shredded by squirrels and birds scavenging for food, so I've transplanted it and hope it will recover.

And it looks as if the oak tree is dead and will need to be taken down before the late summer hurricane season is upon us.

I'll probably call for estimates this week. It was really a lovely tree, but last year's drought must have dealt it quite a blow, because it never recovered. Once it's up, stump and all, I'm thinking of planting a magnolia tree there. I love magnolias.

While yard-saling today, I hunted for tomato cages, and something I could make a compost heap from, but no luck. I did get some fun things, and was able to view some lovely lawns and homes in a really nice area. Guess they've been hit hard by the economy, too, though, because on one cul-de-sac alone I saw 4 houses for sale. I'll bet they were $750,000 homes, which is a lot for this area.

Anyway, if you're thinking all that tilling and digging and building is way more effort than you want to put out, you should check out the lasagna gardening method. The heaviest thing is hauling those bags of peat moss over to your site.
After 4 days of teasing, Mother Nature has sent us some rain. The weather is cool and casting that blue tint over all things green and lush. It's beautiful, but I wish I were in Colorado this week, as originally planned.

My best friend (I'll call her Connie) lives there with her husband and two teenage sons, and we haven't seen each other since September of 2003, just before J-Man and I moved here. There aren't words to describe her. She is 16 years younger than I, but, you know how it is--the heart knows no age difference, and we have been heart friends for about 15 years now. She is an amazing mom, wife, friend, but very private and we both had to overcome trust issues to bring our friendship to the level it is today.

Connie had Hodgkins lymphoma as a teenager, and the radiation damaged her thyroid, her salivary glands, caused the removal of her spleen, and damaged her heart. Any time she has surgery or gets sick, the lack of a spleen compromises her immune system even further. In Dec. of 2007 she had open heart surgery to repair her mitral valve. Why they didn't go ahead replace it, I don't know, because they told her it would eventually need to be replaced. She had infections afterwards, necessitating hernia surgery last summer. At the time, they told her she'd need the surgery to replace her mitral valve within a year.

Several weeks ago, her husband called me and wanted to bring me out there for a surprise visit for her. I'd been thinking of a road trip out there anyway, so J-Man and I decided to fly to Colorado and spend a few days there. Because Connie is like me and prefers a little advance notice, her hubby went ahead and told her. We've been so excited to get together.

However, her health took a turn for the worse, and it soon became obvious the surgery would have to be moved up. So on Wed. this week, the day before we were scheduled to leave, Connie and her husband flew to Mayo Clinic in MN, where she underwent open heart surgery yesterday. I am so grateful that her CO physician realized his limitations and sent her there, because there were even more complications once they examined her.

In addition to replacing one heart valve, another had to be repaired, and because her heart was further damaged with the infections, the lining around her heart needed to be stripped away, so it could fill and contract properly. After the surgery, they did an EKG and it was unexpectedly abnormal. So after an echocardiogram and finally, a heart catheterization, it was discovered that one of her main coronary arteries was blocked--which would have resulted in a major heart attack at any time. A stent was placed in the artery to keep it open and increase the blood flow and she was finally taken to ICU. We've had no word today on how she's doing.

Her sons, one of whom had to have an appendectomy this week (!), are supposed to fly up there tomorrow. It will be good for them all, because they are such a close family. I wish I could be there, too, but maybe this fall I'll be able to get out there to see her. So instead, I just kept my days off and decided to work at that list of projects to stay busy.

I'll post more about those later, including the yard sale finds I brought home today, but for now, if you're a praying person, I'd appreciate you shooting one heavenward for Connie and her family. This is one angel who needs to stay on earth just a little longer.