Thursday, December 29, 2011

The End of the Year

What a year this has been! Some of the highlights:

1. The move of Emily and Tommy to Georgia - wish we could see them more.
2. Writing a book proposal with the best partner in the world and having it accepted!
3. Being an officer in my quilt guild and hosting Karen Kay Buckley for 4 days.
4. Dad going into a nursing home. :(
5. Mom having a stroke in her eye. :(
6. Mickey having surgery for a ruptured disk. :(
7. Elizabeth's car being wrecked by a drunk driver. :(
8. Elizabeth being accepted to Pharmacy School.
9. A wonderful trip with hubby to San Antonio.
10. A fun time blogging! I've had more posts this year than I've ever had. :)

What I've learned this year:

1. Never be surprised at what life has in store.
2. When opportunity knocks, answer the door.
3. I am capable of more than I thought.
4. Always keep a pizza in the freezer.
5. Don't go to Express Oil Change to get brakes fixed.
6. Pinterest rocks.
7. Buy chicken from Zaycon.
8. Words with Friends is lots of fun. (Thanks, Alec Baldwin.)
9. Don't forget to trust God.
10. Never leave a dog unattended with a fire in the fireplace.

Plans for the new year:

1. Blog as much as ever.
2. Finish making quilts for the book.
3. Turn in book manuscript according to our contract.
4. Get back to work on the block-of-the-month quilts I started this year (before I got sidetracked by the book!)
5. Finish furnishing the condo so it will be ready for Elizabeth in August.
6. Walk more. (I have this plan every year. Maybe this will be the year I just do it.)
7. Read more.
8. Beat hubby at least once at Words with Friends.
9. Eat more brussels sprouts.
10. Keep calm and carry on.

What are your plans for 2012?


I've spent a few hours (several, actually!) over the last couple of days cleaning my studio. I should have taken a before shot, but trust me, it was a wreck. And now it is clean.
My cutting table hasn't been clear in a long, long time. I found 2 rotary cutters and a few pairs of scissors hiding under the pile of fabric that was there.
And my sewing machine table is clear! (Okay, so I didn't clean out the bookcases, but... whatever!)

I'm so excited - can't wait to get back up there. I have a quilt in pieces that I'm anxious to put together. I'll be much more productive now!

While in my cleaning mode, I also cleaned out my bedroom closet and a linen closet. And hubby cleaned the garage. Next step: garage sale or Craigslist sale. Coming soon. The pile of discarded furniture and stuff if now filling up one bay of our garage. It's good to start off the new year a bit more organized.
We almost had a major catastrophe this morning. While hubby was outside helping Mickey do his business (yes, the pee is now flowing!) and I was upstairs taking the clean studio shots, Prince found Mickey's toy and proceed to play with it on the hearth. When I came downstairs I discovered Prince with the end of the toy sticking into the fire! I grabbed up said toy, put out it's flames, and turned off the gas logs. It's terrifying how close we came to having a house fire. No harm done except to the toy (named Bo Bo). He now has a hole in his head. Whew!

Mickey is slowing improving. He no longer drags his rear left left, but he still can't walk normally with it. He will get his staples (count em - 20!) out next week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Snap Bag Tutorial

I've been meaning to share some directions for making a snap bag for weeks; sorry I didn't get to it before Christmas.

1. Decide how big you want your bag. The bag will have a fold at the bottom, so allow for that in your measurements. For example, if you want a bag that is 5 inches across and 6 inches down when finished, you'll need fabric that is 5 inches by 12 inches. Allow a bit extra for quilting. So cut two pieces of fabric (one for bag, one for lining) that are 6 inches by 13 inches. Make sense?

2. Cut a piece of batting the same size. Layer the fabric pieces with the batting in the middle and quilt using straight lines. Easy peasy quilting. Trim to the correct size (5x12, in our example).

3. Make a casing for each short end (the 5" ends). This is just like adding a wide binding to the end, leaving it open at both ends to insert the piece of tape measure. Be sure to use a doubled piece of fabric for this step for more strength. Sorry I don't have pictures of this step, but I think you'll understand when you look at the pictures below.

4. Cut two pieces off a metal retractable tape measure. Cut them about 5/8 inch shorter that the width of the bag (approximately 4 3/8 in our example). Trim the ends so they are rounded.
Wrap each tape measure piece in strong tape; this will keep the sharp edges from poking through the fabric over time.
Insert each piece of wrapped tape measure into a casing so that the side that has the measurements (inside curve) will face toward the lining of the bag.
Fold the bag in half with the lining side out, and stitch the side seams. I like to stitch a straight seam a scant 1/4 inch from the edge, and then follow that with a zig zag stitch to enclose the edge of the fabric to minimize fraying.
Turn the bag right side out and you're done! Here's one I made from selvages. I like to have this in a variety of sizes. This bitty one is good to corral lipstick in my purse. I have a bigger one to keep basic one-the-go sewing supplies.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best Christmas Present, Ever!

Yes, Mickey got to come home for Christmas! He has a long way to go in his recovery, but we are trying to be hopeful. It's not easy to see him dragging a leg behind him or to hear him yelp in pain at times. He needs constant care. But he's worth it.
He has to be confined to a crate much of the time, but he manipulates us into putting him in our laps. Spoiled...
He has a nasty, mean incision. Click on the photo if that sort of thing doesn't bother you. Lots of staples down the length of his back. Almost like a zipper.
He rests with his new Christmas toy (from Daughter 1 and SIL).

Our Christmas weekend was busy, but filled with family. Saturday we met Daughter 1 and SIL in Auburn for a lovely lunch at Longhorn Steaks and a fun exchange of gifts. Christmas Day began with a visit to my dad in the nursing home. Then on to my in-law's house for Christmas dinner. My mother was with us for all these visits and meals and enjoyed being a part of all the festivities.

There is lots of reading going on around here. Daughter 2 told me about The Hunger Games books - there are 3 of them. She downloaded them onto her Kindle and has finished the first two in a matter of a few days. I started the first one yesterday morning and now can't put it down.

I hope you and yours have had a very happy Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mickey Update

Again, an old picture. He's still not home. He still needs to urinate. We're thinking we might go see him this morning and see if we can help. Maybe he'll be so excited to see us that he'll immediately let loose.

I sewed last night! I finished the last of the pieces for a quilt - now I just have to put the pieces together. I also spent some time cleaning my sewing studio which had become overwhelmingly cluttered. I still need to do some cleaning in there, but at least I got the process started.

Our Christmas celebrations start tomorrow, so I'd better go wrap some presents!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Yummy Pizza Recipe

I haven't shared a recipe in .... well, a long time. Here's something yummy Daughter 2 and I made this week. We don't have a name for it. But it's good!

The first step is to make your own Ricotta cheese. I know what you're thinking. Make ricotta cheese? I always buy it at the grocery store. But Daughter 2 learned to make it this semester in her Microbiology class. Who knew science could taste so good?

Ricotta Cheese:
1 quart whole milk (yes, it's worth the extra fat!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice

In a large pot, combine milk and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Let sit for 3-5 minutes to curdle. This is one time curdling is the correct outcome!

Line a colander with cheese cloth. Place the colander over a bowl to drain. Pour curdled milk into the colander and let the liquid drain off. You've made ricotta cheese!

We used pizza dough from Publix (very yummy, in the bakery department), but you can use your favorite pizza crust. We sprayed the pan with Pam and sprinkled it with a bit of cornmeal before rolling out the dough. Precook the pizza crust in a 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.

Spread the crust with 1/2 of your homemade ricotta cheese. (We made 2 pizzas, and used ours all up!) Sprinkle the ricotta cheese liberally with garlic power.
Scatter fresh spinach leaves over the pizza.

Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 for approximately 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

I promise you will love this pizza! And kids would love helping with the ricotta cheese process. But we need a name....
What would you call this pizza?

Mickey Update:
Just got off the phone with the vet. He is optimistic for a full recovery. Yay! Mickey has still not gone potty on his own, but maybe tomorrow? We want him home for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mickey Needs to Pee!

Mickey had surgery for a severely ruptured disk yesterday afternoon. He came though fine, and they got him up and walking today. But he can't come home until he pees on his own. Pee, Mickey, pee! We miss you!

He will be confined to a crate for 6 weeks when he comes home. Total rest. I may crawl in with him!

Things are crazy around here. Big changes coming soon. Lots of day trips. Shopping for condo furniture. House is a mess. Sewing: hope I haven't forgotten how! Dad is still complaining nonstop. Mom is upset a lot. Hubby holds us all together. Love you, Hubby!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just Breathe...

With all the happenings around here, we haven't been eating as well as we should. Too much fast food, too many snacks, not enough vegetables. So Saturday, I cooked - real food! Crab cakes, baked sweet potatoes, and fresh roasted brussels sprouts. Yum.
We've taken a couple of road trips in the past few days. Mickey joined us - here he is finishing off someone's ice cream cone. He still has a catheter in his front paw in case he has surgery. We're checking into that today. We've heard that some dogs improve with back surgery, and some don't. No guarantees.

We've ordered him a set of wheels to support his back end so he'll be able to walk better. Yes, sort of a doggy wheelchair. Won't that be sight!
We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset last night as we drove home. A God-given art display!

I took Mom to visit Dad Saturday. He's still trying to get out of the nursing home. He told us he wanted to hire a lawyer. He can't even dial a phone on his own, so I know that won't happen. He fell again Friday night. He's definitely where he needs to be, but it really upsets my mom to hear him complain all the time.

So what else is new around here? A lot! I keep reminding myself to breathe. Just breathe...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Unique Christmas Fabric

Have some last minute Christmas sewing projects? A good friend tipped me off about this fabric at Monday's guild meeting. Christmas RV's! The background is a wonderful, vintage green.
Is this not the cutest thing ever?

Gotta love the tree in the toilet and the propane tank!!!!

I know you're waiting with baited breath to find the source! You'll never guess where it's from...

Instructions for finding this wonderful fabric:
1. Go to the nearest Target
2. Go to the men's department
3. Find the underwear.

That's right - holiday men's boxers! You'd be surprised how much fabric you can get from men's boxers. And they're 100% cotton, perfect for quilts.

Mickey update:
Mickey got worse yesterday. We took him back to the vet. They kept him overnight to give him IV steroids. I called to check on him earlier this morning. He had a good night, but is not improving. Next step is most likely back surgery. Poor baby!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Guild Meeting....And the Straw

Yesterday was our Quilt Guild's Christmas Coffee. Look at that spread! We never have a speaker in December: it's all about visiting and eating, and plenty of both were done! It did me so much good to be around friends. I had to miss last month's meeting because Dad was in the hospital. We played some really fun games as well - I'll try to share them later this week.
Here's Gwen in her colorful vest, made from a thrift store vest.
And Lori rocked her Grinch t-shirt.

In family news, Mickey was not getting better. I took him to the vet yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately the news was not very good. I was hoping it was a leg problem, but it's his back. The doctor seemed very concerned; in fact he told me if he got worse during the night to bring him to the emergency animal clinic.

Dr. A gave him a steroid injection, and prescriptions for more steroids and muscle relaxers. Mickey needs to stay as immobile as possible. We have to carry him out to potty and carry him back inside. No stairs for this rest of his life! And Dr. A wants to see him again today.

Hubby was out of town overnight. I let Mickey sleep with me so I could keep an eye on him. He had a good night and is no worse this morning. Not sure what will come next - I just hope he starts getting better from the steroids and doesn't need a more invasive treatment.

Last night, I felt like the world was collapsing around me. Mickey's back, though not the most important thing going on in my life, seemed to be that straw that would break this camel's back. I'm trying to keep good thoughts today, trying to stay upbeat and positive, and trying to focus on my many blessings - I have lots of those!

Dad continues to complain. It upsets Mom, and she's not eating enough. She comes home from visits with him totally stressed. We hope this will change over the weeks to come.
Something interesting: I know this looks like a typical shot of the Costco parking lot. But look closer. Click the picture to make it bigger. That's a huge hawk on top of the gray SUV. He swooped around the lot a few times, maybe hoping someone would drop a mega-sized pack of bacon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Making a Design Board

The daughters and I have been pinning ideas (gotta LOVE Pinterest!) for furniture and decor for the condo for the last month. I've been dying to learn how to make a design board to combine some of the items in one spot to see how they look together.

Last night, I learned how. The secret? Olioboard! The site has TONS of home item images already, but I was able to move my Pinterest images to Olioboard very easily to make the above board. What fun!

I can see doing this for clothing - putting together outfits with shoes, a purse, jewelry. (Though I will probably continue to wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt daily - ha!)

And what about quilt ideas? Putting together fabrics (or simply color combinations). I think I'll be having lots of fun on this site!

We're going to see Dad this morning - let's hope he's in a good mood and NOT asking to come home! Mom is doing well, with a really positive attitude despite her vision loss. Here's wishing you a fabulous weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poor Mickey

Poor Mickey has a hitch in his get-along. He seems to be hurting in his hip (just like me). I don't think it's sympathy pain though. He acts very pitiful, pretends he can't walk (though he walks around when he doesn't think we're looking), and asks for treats. He has Hubby wrapped around his little paw.

He's had this same malady before and we have medicine left over from the last time, so hopefully he'll be back to his old perky self soon. Until then, he is very pampered. Actually, he's always pampered, sick or not. (Picture above taken last summer at lake.)

Hubby and I spent a lovely day in Auburn. We closed on the condo - yay! We plan to start buying furniture and moving it in during the next few weeks. Can't wait to start this process. We've already picked out a few things, but haven't made any big purchases yet. There is an Ikea trip in our near future for lamps, etc.

I got lots of sewing done during the car ride - trying to make every minute count. I mentioned during the closing that I'm a quilter. The seller's real estate agent asked if I know Flavin Glover. I told her I'd met Flavin, I'm very familiar with her work, and that we have the same publisher. Flavin is a neighbor of the agent who'd recently been to the Glover home. She said it was spectacularly decorated for Christmas, each room featuring Flavin's quilts. Would have loved to have seen it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mollie Makes

I bought this magazine earlier in the week at Books-A-Million. I thought I deserved a little giftie to relax and enjoy. And I'm enjoying it! Love the chai tea cup cozy on the front cover. The magazine is all about making, thrifting, collecting, and crafting - some of my favorite things in the world. It's a bit pricey for a mag, $11.99, probably because it comes from the UK, but a fun occasional splurge, for sure.
And, what's more, every Mollie Makes magazine has an actual craft kit attached to the cover! This issue has a little kit to embroider and make 3 covered buttons. What fun!

After Mom's Carotid Doppler yesterday and today's retinal appointment, I'm pretty much over hospitals and doctors for the time being. Her test results are mostly good though!

The retinal specialist we saw today said that all her problems have been caused by a blood clot in a vein behind her eye, not from her Carotid artery. (He was right because we found out later in the day that the Carotid Doppler came back normal.) There is nothing that causes it; it can just happen. It's called a having a stroke in the eye.

There is not a cure, but only treatment. The treatment currently being recommended is an injection of a certain medication directly into the eye to try to constrict the affected blood vessels. Her first injection was today, and she will get one every month for a few months. She might see improvement in her vision and she might not. Everyone is different.

We are relieved that her Carotid is fine. Overall, we are happy with the results today! We hope her vision comes back, but if it doesn't, as she says, "I can live with that!

Back to sewing!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Have you ever wanted to be a fabric designer? I know I have. I've read about quilters who have used Spoonflower to print their own designs on fabric, but I've never tried it myself. Always wanted to, though.

Daughter 2 saw a piece of artwork on the internet - no idea where to get a copy for herself. She's been wanting to recreate it on a budget. I had the idea to design it on the computer and have it printed on fabric. Then she can frame it or wrap it around a canvas.

The original artwork is basically oversized sheet music that looked old and aged, but with some interesting depth. So Daughter 1 found some images and used photo editing software to layer two images. Then she zapped it to Spoonflower and ordered a sample (only a few dollars).

The sample came in the mail yesterday. Yay! I think it turned out just as she was hoping. But she won't be home for a couple of weeks to make the final decision. I'll show more of this as the project progresses. If she's happy with the sample, we'll order a yard of the fabric and proceed from there.

Family Updates:
Dad fell at the nursing home Sunday night, but was not hurt.

Mom's Carotid Doppler is this afternoon. Her retina specialist appointment is Wednesday morning. So hopefully we'll know much more tomorrow about what lies ahead for her.

Her eye is definitely not improving on its own. She doesn't complain, but she can't read the newspaper or do her beloved crossword puzzles. I took her to Walmart yesterday. Usually, we both get a cart and go our separate ways in the store. But yesterday, I needed to stay with her. She felt more comfortable holding on to our cart with me guiding it from the front.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Who-ville Trees

This is definitely not a Christmas fabric, but doesn't it remind you of the trees in Whoville in The Grinch? So I'll just pretend it's a Christmas fabric, since 'tis the season. I'll be sewing with this tonight while I watch TV.
We put up the Christmas tree and all the trimmings this afternoon. This is one of four placemats that Mom cross stitched for me years and years ago. I never get tired of them.
And here's the tree, in the den instead of the living room this year. I'm glad to have some Christmas cheer around here!

Nothing new about Mom or Dad. Tomorrow morning I'll be on the phone scheduling her many doctor appointments for the week. Looking forward to getting more information on her condition!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Looking at the Bright Side

I woke up sick today, so Hubby took Mom for her nursing home visit. I'm feeling better this evening, and hopefully this will not turn into the full blown upper respiratory crud. Though the last month has had fewer ups than downs, I'm really trying to look at the good stuff and not focus on the bad.

The Good Stuff:
1. My hip is better.
2. My mother could have had a stroke if the plaque had gone to her brain.
3. My mother has a wonderful, upbeat attitude, despite having lost sight in one eye.
4. Hubby brought me two boxes of candy tonight.
5. I had two naps today.
6. I felt like sewing tonight.
7. Daughter 2 got a rental car this morning.
8. We close on the Auburn condo in less than a week.
9. I stayed in my pajamas all day long.
10. Hubby made me hot chocolate this afternoon.

I have a lot to be thankful for!

Friday, December 2, 2011

When it Rains....

Yes, it's pouring around here....

Mom was supposed to visit Dad at the nursing home (via her driver). But first thing this morning, I called her and she had suddenly lost vision in one eye. Nursing home visit cancelled. I took her to the Emergency Room at the Eye Foundation here.

The Diagnosis:
She had some plaque in her Carotid Artery that broke free into a vein in her eye. The clog in her eye vein caused bleeding which greatly affected her vision. We got home around 1:30 this afternoon - I had not even had breakfast yet.

I will take her to a retinal specialist next week, and also to have some Doppler tests run on her Carotid. Meanwhile, I sort of feel like she's a walking time bomb - hope no more plaque breaks free over the weekend.

Meanwhile, I've been dealing with Daughter 2's wrecked car. I finally got the correct insurance for the errant driver this afternoon - the info he gave to the police was incorrect. But it was too late in the day when I got the information to have the car towed. That will happen early next week. She will get a rental car tomorrow. I think the driver of the other vehicle is now out of jail.

This, too, shall pass.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Detour Project

Ta-Dah! Here's the little project I made. It's a little snap pouch - the kind that use pieces of a metal tape measure to make them "snap" open and close.
I made 12 of them, to gift to my quilty bee friends at our holiday meeting today. A couple of them were made from selvages. I tucked a pad of Post It notes inside each one - gotta love some Post Its!
Okay, this picture was supposed to be of a shoe box full of the snap cases. But somehow hubby popped up. Too tired to swap the photo. Hubba hubba, hubby!

This morning I had a 7 am dentist appointment - it should be illegal to go to the dentist this early! But I survived. While I was there in the chair (so tired, I seem to be rhyming) Daughter 2 called. Her car was smashed overnight while parked at her apartment complex at college. Luckily a friend and neighbor witnessed the crash at 3 am when it happened. The offender was drunk and hit at least 3 cars in the parking lot, but Daughter 2's car got the brunt of it.

Her car is not drivable - the rear bumper is partially resting on the ground. Poor thing - her friends are rallying around to give her rides to campus. Hopefully tomorrow I can arrange for towing and repair, and hopefully a rental car.

It's certainly never boring around here!