Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, continuing tradition


I like to put photos in my posts, but this post is about Thanksgiving and, well, I ATE all the food before I thought to take a photo!!! So here is an oldie - my purple Shakespear in the Park - I've made this pattern 3X now and want to make it again! That is all the quilty content of this post - onward to my thoughts about this past Thanksgiving and traditions!
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Being from the US, I KNOW Thursday was Thanksgiving down there - but here I am in Canada. And guess what? Canada celebrates mid-October in a more low-key way than the US. So - been there, done that this year, sort-ov. For Canadian Thanksgiving I asked SB what he wanted for a special meal and he wanted weinerschnitzel - and seeing that it was just the 3 of us, that was fine with me. I thought I had skipped the entire Thanksgiving turkey meal!
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Enter my 5 1/2 year old son - who is now old enough to figure out that THIS week was the US Thanksgiving day (thanks to some internet e-cards!). Oh, the drama!!! I explain to him that we already celebrated, but to no avail. Nope, no sir-ee, he ordered up a US Thanksgiving dinner, staring a turkey. Because it is ALL about the turkey, right? Never mind the fact that I already know he will only take 2 bites out of a 20 lb bird and then happily eat just the mashed potatoes and carrots. Of course, I could always cook a smaller bird, but we already had a 20 pounder in the freezer.
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Anyway, we had already invited a family over for dinner on Saturday - a good playmate of School Boy's - who has 3 younger brothers & sisters, so you do the math. Lots of little kids, and oh so cute! Plus a middle-school aged daughter. We WERE going to have pork roast, but since SB's heart was set on turkey, the turkey was defrosted. All 20 lbs of it for 3 adults and 5 young children - 1 of whom doesn't eat solids yet (the father stayed home with 1 baby who was still napping). Oh yes, we have left-overs! We did have 1 couple come into the restaurant and they each had a plate too and of course, we sent some home with SB's friend. But still, there are lots of left-overs, yum!
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I made some favorites... sweet potato casserole with pecan topping, fresh green bean/mushroom casserole, stuffing with sausage and dried cranberries, LOTS of gravy (need that gravy for hot turkey sandwiches later this week!), buttered peas and carrots and mashed potatoes. For dessert there was store-bought pumpkin pie and vanilla icecream. As predicted, SB ate 2 servings of mashed potato and a few bits of his peas/carrots, but nothing else. Oh, and icecream. That boy makes me laugh - he was soooo excited to have this big feast, had his heart set on turkey and then didn't even take one bite. It was just the excitement of having a traditional turkey meal with friends that he liked.
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As he raced around the house with his friends in full glee, I realized that as adults sometimes we need to let our own ideas of holidays go by the wayside and continue traditions for the younger generation. Being from a big family I am used to a Thanksgiving celebrated with many, many people so I thought, why bother - just for us? But my young son has taught me, because "just for us" is important! When I tucked him in to bed he hugged and kissed me and told me it was the best Thanksgiving ever!
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Yes, is was alot of cooking for mostly very young children, but in the process I am perpetuating a holiday tradition. And we all enjoyed it. All said and done, I am glad that we didn't skip the turkey dinner this year!
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Snow Day

I made SB a new fleece robe this week. After playing around with my serger I finally figured out that it was out of alignment - needs to go to the shop. Fortunately fleece is easy to sew on a sewing machine - last time I made SB a robe was 2 years ago and it just wasn't going to fit this year - and with cold weather fast approaching - a new robe was a must! I spent extra time on it - topstitching all the seams - I really like that look. I didn't cut the fabric upside down - the print runs both ways depending where the pattern falls on the robe. Anyway - no sooner do I get it finished - but look what he sees out the window this morning? SNOW!

And here is a photo of my crazy apple tree - it lost its leaves a long time ago but those apples are still hanging on!

A friend came over today with her 2 kids - and while the kids ran in and out like yo-yos to play in all that delightful snow, we made bread and rolls. 20 cups of flour, phew - that is a lot of bread! The kids were happy to help with the kneading part, the making little balls for rolls part and of course, the eating part. A commercial kitchen comes in handy for big baking projects! It all went so well that next weekend we are planning on doing cookies together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Baby Quilt by Eleanor Burns


42"X52". This quilt will be a gift for some little someone!
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A close-up of my fabrics... I bought all these fabrics at the same time - I think about 1 yard of each. Then, didn't use them! Well, they are just too cute not to use! So, I measured them all up one day and then looked through my books/patterns to see where I could use them - and this pattern was perfect! I even have enough for a binding, left-overs for the scrap bin and some larger pieces for another project. As a scrap quilter, I like it when I have fabric left-over to feed the bin, so to speak!



From this book...




Which you can buy here: 
This is such a quick and easy quilt, but looks a bit complex. My favorite design elements! I loved how quickly and easily this went together - I skipped steps 6-8 where you are supposed to cut apart stitches to flip the seams and iron to make it lie flatter. With just 4 seams I didn't think it necessary. That being said - Eleanor always has very simple directions with step-by-step illustrations to follow; I highly recommend her patterns, especially to new quilters! There are actually a few more quilts in this book that I would like to make, but I have to sort through my fabrics on hand and then make a shopping list first!!!
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Bonnie has a very similar pattern (Hidden Pinwheels) over at http://www.quiltville.com/ - a very scrappy version using different techniques - it is on my to-do list! I'll use some scraps from this quilt for Bonnie's version. It is so FUN to see how similar patterns make up looking so very differently depending on the fabric you use! And you all know, scrappy is my favorite, but even I realize - you do have to make some color-co-ordinated quilts once in awhile to feed that bin! I really like TRUE scrap quilts - I love using a fabric and remembering what other quilt I've used that fabric for in the past. So now when I use these scraps, I will remember (with a smile) this baby quilt and the intended recipient!
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I also really like the fact that someone else has taken the time to figure out the easiest and quickest way for me to cut my fabrics to make a quilt!!! I love good directions. And I love yardage charts - because I like knowing that I have enough fabric on hand when I start something. Sometimes - the longest part of quilting for me is just deciding on a pattern. Geez. I tell myself - just pick something and GET ON WITH IT!!! If you see a pattern that you like - do yourself a favor and buy it. And then do yourself another favor - and CUT your fabric!!!
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On the homefront... this afternoon was kitchen day... here is a photo of the baking... Shepherd's Pie is in the oven and spaghetti sauce already in the freezer in individual portions. That's sourdough bread, apple pie and banana loaf in the photo. Believe it or not, with all the bread we bake around here - I only have that 1 bread pan! The yeast breads just get shaped into loaves (by DH), but I need the bread pan for banana breads, etc.



SB will be home in a moment and then it is homework time - early - because he is going to a birthday party this afternoon. Busy, busy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bits & Pieces


Well, my crazy schedule of summer/early fall is over, phew. I finalized my quarterly statements by my deadline at the end of October, double phew (paperwork is usually a struggle for me)! Early November found me trucking back and forth to the Cape. And now, finally, I have some time to putter around a do what I want to do, which is???
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You would think that I would be glued to my sewing machine and having a great time sewing. Not so - I've been spending most my time - cleaning and organizing! Sigh. But it is nice to have a neat and tidy house, right? And I HAVE gotten some sewing time in too.
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First off, I've spent lots of time re-organizing, purging, paring down. This has actually been something that I've been working on off and on for over a year now. One thing that I am really good about is when new clothes enter the house - a pretty equal amount needs to be packed up to donate. So, the closets are usually pretty easy, just switching the order of clothes because it is getting colder . This week I've organized my sons toy area - getting ready for the approaching holidays, because while we don't give him tons of toys, you can bet that there will be new toys entering the toy box area. So, I have 2 of the boxes emptied out now. He has a great, great toy box and small play area. Basically, his toys (excluding the bigger boxed things and games) fit in there. This week I went through and bagged up a large bag of outgrown toys to donate and then another bag of broken/lost pieces type of toys for the trash. Everything else is all neatly organized, by sets/similarities/etc. Exactly how he likes his toys! I also went through tons of photos and tossed all the bad ones, setting the good ones aside for a 2nd sort, scanning and scrap booking - saving that project for a cold, snowy day! And today I went through another few totes, tossing and shredding away. I have a pile of 4 empty totes upstairs that need to be moved to the basement so I am not tempted to refill them! I am starting to see empty holes in my storage areas! So - sorting projects this week, plus lots of cleaning - because organizing and cleaning go hand in hand!
* OK - well this is what the play area looks like after a RAINY weekend. We still have 1 basket of things to sort/go-through and I think that is the salad spinner lurking under the couch - a favorite toy of SB's! He just loves to spin "stuff" in there. Bigger toys get "parked" under the play table and train set-ups can be left on top. I really love his toy-box set up - the small totes are great for smaller items so they don't get lost at the bottom of the bigger totes. It is from Ikea and he has the same boxes at our house in Austria. The play area fits right behind our couch so it is still in the living room and he can bring his toys around to play - of course kids just love being right under your feet when they play, right?
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DH and I made 4 loaves of sourdough bread yesterday and SB and I made brownies. So, check-off some baking. I really don't like store bought bread so I was happy to have bread in the house again! Yesterday I also I decided on a few simple/new recipes to try this week and DH picked up the ingredients for me. Hopefully we will hit on a few new winners that will become favorites!
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My serger is being tempermental and breaking needles. It is a simple, basic machine and in over 5 years I've never had a bit of trouble with it. I'm sure I can fix it... I got that all cleaned up and have a new package of needles and WILL figure this issue out. SB NEEDS a few essentials, plus I want to make some clothes for myself. So, got to figure out that serger issue - hopefully tomorrow? Probably not likely as I have a pile of filing to do - a result of my sorting project. And of course, the ever present paperwork - at the very least I need to do my October reports! At least I've moved my sewing area - my summer area is too cold this time of year. A warm area (corner of the living room) is a good start.

Since the serger isn't figured out yet... I've spent some time cutting patterns and doing a bit of wardrobe planning. No sense in making a mis-mash of clothing that just doesn't go with anything else. I have a few basics that I will start out with and see where I go from there. Nothing too complex... I like those oh so easy patterns. Because believe me - those skirts that are supposed to take only 2 hours - well, usually take me a bit longer due to many, many interruptions! Probably if I just had 2 straight hours to sew I would get it done, but that isn't how it works around here!
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SB and I hit the Simplicity pattern sale last week. He picked out a few stuffed animal patterns and I made him this purple fuzzy rabbit (his choice of soft fabrics from the Red Tag bin - on sale, plus another 50% off, plus my 15% off coupon for entire purchase!). The pattern is simple and easy, but I was thinking it didn't look too much like a rabbit. I did stitch across the top of the ears, arms and legs to help give it a bit more shape and hold the stuffing in place and I think that might have helped some. I was thinking I would take it apart and add some tucks for more shaping, but gosh, SB was so anxious for me to finish it up - I called it good. But the important thing is - he loves it (and was thrilled to stuff his 1st stuffed animal too). He has named the bunny Funny Bunny. It is nice and soft and good for cuddling. Funny Bunny would be that purple bunny sitting between SB and the ever present Elmo in the top photo!


I keep thinking that I should have gotten more done, but then remember that I only got back on Tuesday night - late! Wednesday I was very tired, needless to say after all that driving, but also there are lots of things going on at home and the trip always makes me a emotionally tired too. And then Thursday is a busy day with my business and then quilt group on top of that. Can't miss quilt group - usually my big social outing of the week! And, I DID finish putting borders on a small quilt - I still need to photo that. And then - a very rainy weekend - driving rains and high winds. I can't really complain about bad weather though - at least I don't have to be out there fishing. Let us not forget our fishermen... lobster season opened this week... Although I must say - I think I am completely Candyland and Sequenced out!
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Nothing too exciting, but somehow life seems to be a bit on fast-forward right now. Where is the time going? I relish the routines and schedules of our normal days right down to the bedtime story (currently we are reading the Little House (Laura Ingalls) series, 1 chapter a night - on book 2 already!). Even though bedtime is earlish - 7:15 - by bedtime I am very tired myself so it is nice to lie down with my feet up and read. Just bits and pieces, like puzzles pieces, but put altogether make a wonderful picture!
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Speaking of pictures - here is a random funny one from this past summer:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Voter 357

School Boy and I have been away - we took a trip... to vote, among other things. Here is SB putting my ballot in the box at 8:45 am. We have paper ballots which are all individually counted after voting closes. I was the 357th voter. I know this because our town box (which has been used for over 100 years!) keeps track. You put the ballot in there and the person working the box cranks the handle on the side; a little bell rings and the counter goes up a number. Here is a more detailed photo of the box - up at vote #359 in this photo.





All in all - it took us less than 5 minutes to vote. There was no line, plenty of parking and even snacks. They were nice about the photos too! But 2 days to drive down there, and 2 days to drive back. Let me just say... it is a l-o-n-g trip, but thankfully we had good driving weather. So if you were wondering what we were up to... busy as usual.

It is good to be back, ahhhh!

And - a photo of a Cape Cod beach we visited while away.