Friday, April 30, 2010

Chit Chat

I'm sure you'll be disappointed to hear that Gran and I behaved ourselves at Starbucks today. Sure makes for a boring story, doesn't it? I think it's because we didn't have Brandon to play with--our barrista today was one of the worst I've seen when it comes to customer service. Bet she can't whistle the Jeopardy tune either.

But you know--good barrista or bad barrista, it was awfully nice getting together with Gran. We really hadn't had much opportunity to just sit and chat since before her vacation to Maryland, so it's been a few weeks.

What else did I do today? Nothing too exciting. I cleaned house, saw my workers' comp doctor, stopped by the quilt shop, did some grocery shopping, and quilted the Schnibbles Tagalong quilt--I still have to do the binding though.

I think I probably told you the other day, after the nerve conduction studies were performed, that I have moderate carpal tunnel in my right hand, right? I thought I might find out more about treatment when I saw the doctor today, but all I really found out is that the next step is to refer me to a hand specialist for evaluation. So more waiting. Thank goodness for reading and quilting, that's all I can say! If I didn't have any hobbies or interests, I'm not sure what I'd do with myself.

Speaking of quilting, Anonymous Sue left me a comment on yesterday's post saying she'd just been to a quilt show in Columbia, Maryland, and someone had entered a quilt they made from my Spring! pattern. How cool is THAT?! Do you remember that old Steve Martin movie, The Jerk (in which Steve Martin was "raised a poor black child"), where he says something like "The new phone book is here! I'm somebody now!"? Yep, that's the kind of excitement I'm feeling about somebody's Spring! quilt being in a quilt show and seen by millions and millions of people! (Okay, yep, slight exaggeration on the number of people who will see that quilt, but I'm just THAT excited!) And I understand I'm even given credit for the pattern. I'm pretty sure it won't be long now before they'll be beating down my door. Of course, I'm not sure who "they" are, but as long as "they" come calling with wads and wads of money, they're welcome to beat down my door anytime!

Gosh, would you look at the time? It's after midnight, and Friday's going to be a busy day, so I'd better shut down the computer and get to bed. I'm glad you could stop by for a chat!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hey, Do You Know What Today Is?

Today is Gran's one year blogiversary! If you go over and visit her, you can enter her giveaway--the drawing is on Saturday night (if she can stay awake after I wear her out in class on Saturday!).

Of course, you've "heard" me "talk" about Gran sometimes, right? Well, I first met her in the quilt shop, Bearpaws & Hollyhocks, about a year and a half ago--something like that, anyway. Several of us customers and employees were chatting about blogs, something that was new to Gran. She asked for my blog address, and within a couple weeks, I noticed I was getting comments now and then from "Gran," which wasn't the name I knew her by. I had just an inkling that "Gran" was local and might be the woman I sort of knew from the shop, but I wasn't certain until I asked her one day--and found out I was right. Since then, we've gotten to know one another much better, and I really enjoy spending time with her--she's a truly kind and thoughtful person and a dear friend.

Our latest "escapade" was simply a short drive from her house to the house of another friend to watch old movies last Friday night, but even that proved to be a fun adventure! I was driving that night, and she asked me if I could swing into a Starbucks drive-thru on the way, which I was happy to do. We pulled up to the speaker and a male voice said, "Hi, my name is Brandon. What can I get you this evening?" I turned to Gran to see what she wanted, and when I realized she hadn't decided yet, I told Brandon it would take us a minute. There was no one behind us in line, and Brandon seemed cheerfully patient with the two of us "old" ladies, so there we sat, lost in thought, dreaming caffeine dreams.

After a minute or two of such thoughts, Gran seemed no closer to deciding what she wanted, so we opted to enlist Brandon's help--he'd suggest something like "mocha?", and Gran would say yes or no; he'd suggest "Venti?," and Gran would say yes or no. It continued like that until finally we all agreed on her beverage choice. Brandon gave us the total and invited us to pull forward to the window.

Unfortunately, we couldn't pull forward. In all the excitement of ordering, Gran had dropped her Starbucks card between the seat and the center console, and no matter how far she stuck her hand down between and under the seat, she couldn't find it. Finally, thinking she'd sneak up on it from behind, Gran got out of the car, opened the back door, and crawled onto the floor of the back seat.

In the meantime, I sat patiently in the driver's seat while Brandon began whistling the theme music to "Jeopardy" through the Starbuck's speaker. Who knew he'd still be watching? I guess we were the evening's entertainment. So I figured narrating for Brandon Gran's search for the missing Starbuck's card was the least I could do, because really? Who knows what Brandon was thinking as he watched Gran get out of the car and then crawl around in the back seat?

Anyway, do you know what today is? BESIDES Gran's one year blogiversary? It's the day I'm meeting her for coffee at Starbucks! Boy, THIS should be fun! For some reason, though, she wants to meet at a DIFFERENT Starbucks--one where they don't know us. Yet.

Happy blogiversary, Gran!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting Ready

Now that I've finished the Compass Rose quilt and sent it off, it's time to get ready for the Picnic Time quilt and tote class I'm teaching on Saturday.

I spent a few hours today writing the pattern directions, and I'm still not quite done. I have some last instructions to write on putting the inner and outer parts of the tote together, proofread through all of the directions, and then draw a few pattern illustrations. I should be able to get that finished tomorrow and then send Hubby out to Kinko's to get copies made. I've already had prints made of the above photo, so the pattern cover will soon be ready as well. My goal is to finish the patterns by tomorrow night. (Yes, I actually make up professional-looking patterns for my classes--I have what I need to make them and it's really not much more involved than putting together less formal handouts. And I know from my own experience that I'm more likely to lose a batch of loose paper patterns, but a "real" pattern? Never!)

Tonight I made up the component parts of the tote so I could use them to demonstrate in class. I know--what you see here looks more like a pillowcase, doesn't it?!

But I think it will look pretty cute when I get it done. I love that black and white bird fabric--I found it on sale somewhere and I knew right away that I'd want to use it in a tote. I think I'm also going to make a bow out of the blue and white trim fabric to go on the front of the tote. Won't that be cute?! Besides these tote pieces, I need to make up a few quilt blocks for demonstration purposes too. As a teacher, I sometimes feel I'm cramming too much preparation into the last few days before a class--I get annoyed with myself for not preparing further ahead. But then somewhere along the way, as I did tonight, I realize that doing this kind of prep just a few days before the class helps to remind me of the process so it's fresh in my mind, and I can better teach it to my students--at least that's what I hope I'm doing!

So, tomorrow I'll finish putting together the patterns. I also need to run a couple of errands to pick up a few "goodies" for class, and I have a little gift for each student that I need to put together, or I could show Hubby what I need done--he's a very valuable assistant at times and doesn't seem to mind helping me at all!

Thursday I'll finish up whatever I haven't yet done, and on Friday morning I'll make the food for class--I always feed my students something that goes along with whatever the theme is, and since this is a picnic theme, I'll be frying chicken tenders and making a couple of salads.

And somewhere in there, I'd really like to pin and quilt this month's Schnibbles quilt. Maybe on Thursday. Now, though, it's time for bed--I'm tired just thinking about my plans!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Franc N. Stein

The pattern for block 5 of the Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along was posted this morning. Sheesh! This one was really a stretch for me. I finally decided to turn it into Franc N. Stein, looking in the window at the annual Halloween party.

I think this is going to be one weird quilt someday. I hope the next block is a little less challenging, but it's kind of fun anyway!

(Click HERE to go to my Flickr album if you'd like to see all five so far.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Challenge

Okay, the Compass Rose quilt is done--except for a label. Yay!

Now I'll tell you just a little bit more about it. The quilt was done as a challenge to use certain block patterns and fabrics--what I used in the small blocks, although I made them half the size of the original block patterns. As part of the challenge, we were allowed to add additional fabric and set the blocks however we chose. I've always wanted to make a quilt similar to this one, in a medallion configuration with the blocks set into a star pattern. Originally I wanted to make it a feathered star, but in the end, I opted for a simpler design. The finished quilt measures approximately 50" square, so it's a nice size for a tabletopper, lap quilt, or a throw on top of another bed spread.

I've been involved with this challenge for some months now as it was done similar to a mystery block of the month, but I had decided to wait until all the block patterns arrived before making the blocks, so I'd have a better sense of pattern and color. About the time the last block arrived, I was having problems with my hands and arms. I made the individual blocks, but I didn't know if I'd be able to finish it. Finally, though, I decided to give it a try. The deadline is May 1st and it still needs to be mailed off and arrive at its destination by that date, so as you can see, I cut it pretty close; hence the insane effort to get it quilted this weekend. And speaking of the quilting, I thought you might like to see a bit, although I had a hard time getting a photo that showed the quilting very well. What you can't see here is the border which has somewhat random quilted feathers.

Technically, this quilt leaves much to be desired. My points and seams on the little blocks don't always match up perfectly, but I don't really care--I was sewing these when my hands and arms were pretty bad, and I did the best I could at the time. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't really have much hope of winning anything in the challenge, but I'm really happy with the way this quilt has turned out, so winning a challenge doesn't matter anyway. I'm sure in years to come, I'll look at the quilt and it will remind me of this time in my life--after all, isn't that one of the best things about quiltmaking?

Tomorrow I'll get the label sewn on and head to the post office to mail it off. After that? Well, I'm teaching a class on Saturday, so I guess I'd better do what needs to be done to get ready. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

People of Winco

Are you familiar with the People of Walmart site? If not, click HERE and then click on photos--yes, it's hard to believe these people really go out in public like this, but there are some odd people out there. Just as long as they stay "out there," and not "in here," I'm okay with it--most of the time.

About a week or so ago, I stopped at Winco, my new favorite grocery store. The prices are really, really good, the selection is wonderful, and their products are quite tasty (except maybe the e. coli ground beef they were selling a few weeks ago). Winco is a bit like Costco or Sam's Club but with regular people size packaging, rather than packaged food meant to feed the Duggars. I also like the fact that they have a TON of bulk foods--just about anything you could want can be found in barrels!

Anyway, on this particular day, as I approached the checkout area, I picked the shortest line--just one lady ahead of me buying packets of Equal in bulk. Clearly the quickest line, right? Except the customer had no idea how many packets of Equal she had, and the clerk had to count them, one by one. Total count? 164. The customer tried to pay the clerk $1.64, and it took a couple explanations before the woman understood the Equal she was buying was 3 cents a packet, not 1 cent each. Total cost was $4.92. Guess how long it took the woman to find $4.92 in her coin purse? By this time, three customers with full carts had checked out in the aisle next to me.

Just before she left, the woman tried to tip the clerk five pennies, which the clerk wasn't allowed to accept, so that created a little problem when the woman walked off and left the pennies on the counter. I wished I had a sling shot and could have pelted the customer on the back of her head with pennies. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have inflicted any more brain damage than she already had. (Besides, it was Sunday and the woman was dressed like she'd just gotten out of church, so I'm thinking, "Hey! Pennies from heaven," right?!)

While the clerk rang up my purchases and we chatted about the similarities between People of Walmart and people of Winco, I watched four teenage boys enter the store. One was wearing an aluminum foil helmet, another was carrying a very large boom box, and the other two seemed to be wearing aluminum also, but I was a little sidetracked by the kid with the helmet and didn't have a chance to examine the others quite as closely.

Sometimes I think we worry too much about illegal aliens and not enough about space aliens.

I should have a photo for tonight's post of that quilt I've been working on--I quilted it yesterday and I just need to add the binding today.

Currently Engaged In . . .

extreme, high intensity quilting with no time for cohesive thought or writing. There's a reason it's called the Sweat Shop! Show and tell in the next post. See you soon!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Busy Day!

I FINALLY had the nerve conduction studies done on my hands/arms today--it's sure been a long wait! My left hand/arm is only mildly affected but the right hand/arm tested as being moderately affected, and the doctor who did the testing said it was median nerve impingement at the carpal tunnel. Good to know something definitive after nearly three months, although I still don't know what my treating doctor will recommend. "Moderate" means it might be treated conservatively OR with surgery, depending on a number of things. I'll see him in about a week and will know more then.

I'd heard different things about the nerve conduction studies--some people who had it said it was painful and some said it wasn't a big deal, so I didn't really know what to expect. As it turned out, it was kind of interesting. The test was done in two parts: The first part involved sticking electrodes on my arms and hands and running electrical current between points; the second part involved sticking needles into my muscles and measuring some kind of current when the muscles were engaged.

The first part of the test was more annoying than anything. Have you ever had an eyelid twitch or had your doctor hit you on the knee with a little rubber hammer? That's kind of what it felt like--the involuntary jerking or twitching as a result of the electrical stimulation. It was kind of uncomfortable but not really painful. The second part? Those needles didn't feel so great. Some didn't hurt at all, but some were a little painful. Oh, and he also stuck a few in the back of my neck. Fun, huh? Needless to say, I was glad when the test was done, although it wasn't horrible.

The funny thing was that later in the afternoon, when I laid down to take a nap, as soon as I relaxed, I started feeling involuntary twitching in a couple different parts of my body. Coincidence? I don't really know for sure, but I kind of doubt it.

Tonight I had more numbness in my hands than I have for quite awhile and my hands and arms were kind of achy. No one mentioned that the tests might aggravate my hands and arms, but that's the only thing I can think is causing it. Of course, I've done more applique lately than I'm used to, but my hands and arms didn't bother me until now. Have any of you had the nerve conduction studies and felt more achy/numb afterward? I'm curious.

Besides the nerve conduction studies, I pinned the Compass Rose quilt top and spent the evening with friends eating pizza and watching old movies--An Affair to Remember (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr) and Midnight (another old move, this one from the late 30s and filmed in black and white).

It's been a long and busy day. I've taken some Tylenol PM and I'm heading to bed for a nice deep sleep! I hope my hands feel better tomorrow, because I've got some quilting to do!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Compass Rose

Remember the quilt top I showed you a couple days ago? I've added the applique I mentioned and I changed out the center pre-printed section. What was there originally didn't quite fit the space very well and it looked "messy"--I think this "compass rose" center works much better AND it gives me a name for this quilt!

Next, I'll get this one pinned, and I'll work on quilting it this weekend. I'm really glad I finally got back to working with these little blocks I'd made a couple months ago!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Old Man

Hubby's getting old quicker than I am. Last night I was in the Sweat Shop when he came in and asked me if I'd like some dessert. "Uh huh," I said. Twenty minutes later, I remembered his offer and realized he'd never brought dessert. When I went out to see if he needed any help, I spotted his empty ice cream bowl right away. Turned out he didn't really hear what my answer was and thought I'd declined.

As I'm sure many of you have experienced, it's frustrating when a spouse has hearing problems! But at least I know that if I can wait long enough, we'll get to a point where my memory will be as bad as his hearing, and I'll have completely forgotten about dessert within a few minutes of him offering it. Funny how things seem to balance out sometimes, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Do you remember these "little gems"? I told you about them on February 17th. Each little block measures 6-1/2". Well, after I showed them to you, I got sidetracked by health issues and other "life stuff," and I had set them aside.

Every so often, I'd kind of think about them and remember I still hadn't done anything with them. Well, I finally pulled them out of the pile and started playing around with them. I've come up with this setting (sorry--not a great photo; it's much straighter than it looks and I've cut off parts of the corners!):

I still want to add some applique into the plain white areas--some vine and flower stuff, I think. (The center is a pre-printed piece--not "real" applique, by the way.) I think I like it so far!

I was supposed to have nerve conduction studies done on my hands on Wednesday, but the doctor's office called to postpone the appointment until Friday, so I have all day to play with applique. I'll let you know what I get done. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It seems that nearly every day Kate Gosselin is featured prominently on the Yahoo home page in some "news" article or another. Why?

Of course, much of it has to do with Dancing With the Stars, which is on TV, what? Twice a week? (Although sometimes it seems like it's on EVERY night!) Of course, there are practices and rehersals that seem to make the news too. Still, I don't get it--why the apparent fascination with Kate Gosselin? Is she the only one on DWTS?

Yes, I watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight a few times. I didn't particularly find Jon OR Kate OR their show compelling. Although I never really followed their much-publicized break up/divorce, I gather Jon was the bad guy, generally speaking. Still, I saw one "newspaper" (tabloid) at the grocery store checkout whose headlines implied Kate was doing something naughty with her bodyguard, so maybe there was blame to be had on both sides? But did I care? No.

So, tell me this: Why is Kate such a celebrity now? Jon and Kate split up and agreed to go their separate ways. The show's over. Why didn't she just fade away? Admittedly she's got a pretty darn good body for a mom of eight, but where ARE the eight kids, anyway? Maybe all the people who say reality shows are totally fake are right--maybe she NEVER DID HAVE EIGHT KIDS! Have you thought about that? After all, from what I recall, there wasn't a blonde one in the bunch! (No, don't bother trying to explain genetics to me--I get it. I'm just sayin'.)

To be fair, I AM grateful to Kate Gosselin for one thing. Maybe it's my imagination, but since the gossip press has been concentrating on Kate, we've had much less "news" of Paris, thank goodness!

So what do you think? Tired of Kate or are you a fan? And do you think in recent years the PRESS has tried to influence who we see as celebrities, or do you think there's a substantial population out there who really DO care about Kate Gosselin, Paris Hilton, and all the other non-celebrity celebrities, and that's why they show up in the news so frequently?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday is Planting Day

Hubby and I shopped for plants on Thursday and Friday. Did I tell you that? I know I told you Soccer Son and I shopped on Wednesday--I posted the photo of our plants positioned around the yard. On Thursday, I took Hubby to the nursery where Gran and I had gone for a little excursion a few weeks ago--I knew they had some wonderful plants and I thought Hubby deserved lunch at the Conservatory (not to mention the fact that I deserved lunch at the Conservatory again too!), so that's what we did. We were a little disappointed though--so many of the plants in this foothill nursery don't tolerate full sun, which is what we're faced with in our front yard.

So, on Friday, we headed out for more plant shopping. First we went to Lowes to see what they had and we found a few things there. Then we went to Capital Nursery, my favorite local nursery because of their wonderful selection of plants. By the time we were ready to head home, Hubby's van was loaded with a terrific assortment of sun-loving plants.

What you see above are most of our plants, waiting to be placed and planted. There are a couple more that aren't on the tables, and many of the plants we purchased are babies, so the photo is a little deceiving--take my word for it, we have a nice selection here--lots of interesting textures and foliage colors. We still want a wisteria for the pergola and a small tree, but those will be purchased later.

Soccer Son is going to get started on the planting on Monday. I hope we can get it all done then, but we'll see. Our area is expecting some rain showers on Tuesday and Wednesday, so whatever we plant Monday will get nicely watered in--I don't think the rain will be hard enough to do any damage.

Now I'm getting kind of excited about our landscaping! We've been working on this project for quite some time, and it's finally going to LOOK like something! There's still a lot of work to be done, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be sure to get some photos of the yard to share, once these are in the ground.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I'm up to!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Way

". . . Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew,
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way. . . ."

(Excerpt from My Way, Frank Sinatra)

Tagalong. My way. Melodramatic, aren't I? (And yes, I like the way it's turned out!)

The next challenge? Deciding how to quilt it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Report

Before I start talking about books, what do you think of this blog background? I think I like it, although I had to mess around with the HTML code for my own blog template to get the margins right. The right margin on the sidebar is still a little too far to the right, but I'm not sure what else to do, so it can just stay that way. It's readable, I believe. Is this background more ME do you think?

So, BOOKS. It tickles me that so many of you read and enjoy "discussing" books on my blog. As you know, I've been reading lately, and some of what I've been reading have been your suggestions. I really enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It took me a little bit to get into it because the book starts with a bunch of background on Sweden's business and financial systems, but once I got past that, it was hard to put it down. In fact, I promptly ordered the next book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and again it was hard to put down. I don't know why, but I didn't read the author bio until the end of the second book, and that's when I learned that Stieg Larsson, the author, died not long after turning in manuscripts for the first three books. Do you know what that means? I only have one more book to read and that's the end! Here in the U.S., The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet's Nest will be released in about a month, although it's been out in Europe for some months now. In fact, when I was sitting in the surgeon's waiting room the other day, a man came in carrying the book, and I had serious thoughts of mugging him to get it! If you enjoy reading and haven't read the first one yet, pick it up next time you're at the library or bookstore.

Another book I've enjoyed lately is The Unquiet Bones. I'm not sure how I found this one, but I think it might have been an Amazon recommendation. The book is set in medieval England and the main character is Hugh de Singleton, a younger son of landed gentry who must make his own way in the world. While studying for the clergy at Oxford, he becomes interested in surgery. Hugh continues studying on his own and then undertakes more formal surgical studies in France. Upon returning to Oxford, he opens a small practice. One thing leads to another, and he ends up investigating the death of an unidentified woman whose bones are discovered in the privy pit of a nearby castle. Some Amazon reviewers criticized the story as being unrealistic, but for those of us who enjoy mystery and history--especially English history--I think this is an enjoyable book. In fact, I've ordered the second book in the series, a Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel--it should get here before too long.

Because I belong to a book club that meets at my local quilt shop, I'm always on the lookout for quilt-related fiction. I came across this book on Amazon and saw that it had seven customer reviews and each reviewer gave the book five stars, so I ordered it.

Have you read it? The reason I ask is that I got to page 38 and put it down. I found I didn't really relate to the main character--I just kept wanting to slap her. As far as I could tell, the woman was suffering from depression and knew it but felt seeking treatment was somehow disgraceful. However, even that much wasn't entirely clear--there seemed to be several mysteries involved that the authors were trying to keep mysterous--to the point that I was just getting a little bored. I wouldn't really MIND picking it up and trying again if I thought there was a good reason to do so, and that's why I ask if any of you have read it. If you have, if you liked it, let me know.

Have YOU read anything new lately that you can recommend to the rest of us?

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Can't Decide!

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with color and design decisions? I'm feeling a little that way this evening.

New blog background. I realized last night that I had Easter eggs on my blog. Hello!? Easter's SO over! So I quickly shopped around for a different background and came up with this one. I think it's kind of okay, but not that great. Kind of ho-hum, you know? I need to find something I like better but it's hard to decide. I think I'm just not really in the mood.

Front garden. We've finally gotten to the point where we're selecting plants for our front "no lawn," low maintenance yard. I'll show you a photo of a few of them set out in place--I know it doesn't look like much so far!

Soccer Son laid the patio and built the pergola during the fall and winter months; now it's time for planting. We have a black wrought iron "gate" or fence section that will go in front of the pergola with some spiky/grassy looking plants in front of that to partially screen the patio, and I'll have more plants around, here and there. Soccer Son and I are looking for a small tree to put in the yard, and although we'd certainly LOVE a Japanese maple, they're kind of pricey and, more importantly, they don't really tolerate full sun in our Sacramento summer heat very well, so I'm thinking crepe myrtle. Maybe. I want to leave an open area in the center of the yard and look for some kind of artsy focal point to go in it--some kind of "found object," I think. Something cool, but not so cool that someone steals it. Gotta find it though. Anyway, I'm mostly going with spiky, grassy plants and some low, spreading plants (particularly near the dry stream bed) in purples, blues, whites, and a little bit of orange thrown in for a bit of POP! But it's hard to stick to a plan, and the plan keeps changing. Normally, I'd see that as a GOOD thing, but for some reason, right now it's just frustrating me a bit and I feel a little lost--like I'm going to end up buying all the wrong things and will hate the result.

Schnibbles Tagalong quilt. I've been working on this month's Schnibbles for the past several days. I love, love, love the new Garden Party line by Blackbird Designs and that's what I decided to use for this quilt, but once I got the blocks made, they seemed to fade into one another with no real definition. What to do? I considered sashing and decided that wasn't what I wanted. Then I turned the blocks on point and thought I'd add plain squares--but what color and what fabric? I cut and positioned three different colors--brown, mustardy yellow, and finally the cream (the brown in the setting triangles is what I started with). Here's how it looks so far, with the blocks stuck onto the design wall:

I think I like this version best and I may well stick with it, but it's frustrating when nothing turns out the way I envision it. Heck, I just either wasted a bunch of brown and mustardy yellow fabric, or I need to come up with a quilt that calls for brown and mustardy yellow 5" squares!

Maybe my eyes and my brain need a little break, but I don't think I'll get it just yet. Hubby and I are going to hit another home improvement store and a nursery tomorrow to try to finish up our plant shopping. Right now I'm thinking that stuff the doctor sucked out of my armpit? It was probably my creative juices! ARGH!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day

If you live in the U.S., by the time you read this, the tax deadline will be here. Have you sent in your return yet?

I'd pretty much forgotten about it--not that we hadn't done ours, but rather that we did the paperwork about a month ago, e-filed it, and then put it out of our minds. I was at a friend's house this evening, and her husband was still messing around with the paperwork--one of her daughters had claimed "exempt" on her withholding all year and then couldn't understand why she had to PAY. Kids! Speaking of which, I sure hope mine have sent their tax returns in.

Tonight, the second Wednesday of the month, WOULD have been our Thimbleberries Club meeting but our area's local shop hop is underway and that meant we couldn't meet as we normally would. Instead, one of our members invited a small group of us to her house for an "organized potluck" dinner, a little hand stitchery, and a lot of talking. We had a great time, and I realize, once again, how lucky I am to have such good quilting friends.

I saw the surgeon again this morning and he did another needle aspiration--this time, there was only half the amount of fluid, although the swelling made the "bump" much the same size as it was last Friday; he attributed that at least in part to the tissue's reaction to being stuck with a HUGE A$$ NEEDLE last Friday and again today. It seems I'm a mystery to him so far, and he's kind of intrigued since he hasn't been able to figure out what's going on. This time, in addition to the culture to see if there's any infection, they'll do some additional testing to see if they can shed any more light on the cause of the problem. If it's still a mystery after that, then they'll probably do some kind of ultrasound or radiographic studies--unless I just heal up, which is what I'm hoping will happen, even if it deprives my doctor of the opportunity to solve the puzzle. I was talking to someone today who had a cyst that was aspirated twice before it went away, and hers was in just about the same location. Oh, and the surgeon DID mention that it could be a cyst. So who knows? I have a new theory, though. I'm guessing middle-aged boob sag led to the stretching and the displacement of tissue, which in turn opened up a pocket that filled with fluid. Hey, it's about as likely a theory as any other, right?! I'll run that one by the doctor next time I see him. I wonder whether having such a medical condition could score me a little insurance-covered cosmetic surgery?! I'll let you know.

Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along, Block 4

The first 4 of 12 blocks are now done! Woo-hoo! These are actually kind of fun to make, especially since I'm able to add my own little embellishments, like the embroidery.

I'm awfully grumpy tonight. This darn seroma has filled up again, and the pressure is quite bothersome. I'll be going back to the surgeon in the a.m. for something else, hopefully. The needle aspiration didn't really seem to last very long, so I think this time it will be a little more involved, although I'm not sure what he'll decide to do. I swear, though, as I was embroidering, there were a few times I was tempted to do my OWN needle aspiration! I think the cat I embroidered on this block looks about as grumpy and annoyed as I feel.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a change of attitude. "See" you then!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Testing . . .

I got the preliminary results today of the culture the doctor did when he removed the fluid from my armpit on Friday. Kind of anticlimactic. As it turns out, there's no sign of infection.

So what is it? Well, he thinks it's probably a seroma, which is basically just a collection of fluid. Seromas are most often caused by surgery or injury. Most of us have probably had a scrape or a sore that oozed or weeped a little at first, which is just the body's protective response to the injury. Well, a seroma is a little like that, except underneath the skin. Another way to think of it is kind of like a bruise but with a pocket of clear fluid instead of red blood cells.

Why do I have it? Good question! So far as I know right now, there's no real answer or reason. It has occurred to me, though, that with the strained or pulled nerve the workers comp doctor diagnosed a couple weeks ago, perhaps that caused some tissue injury, which resulted in the seroma. Total speculation on my part, I admit. It may just be some kind of coincidence that both are in the same general area.

The swelling has slowly started coming back since the doctor drained it, and I suspect I'll need to go back and see him again in a couple days. He doesn't want to keep poking me with a needle, though, because if I DON'T have an infection now, poking me with a needle is one way to get one. So I don't know if he'll poke me again or what--I'm sure I'll let you know though, blow by blow with none of the gory details omitted!

A couple readers have mentioned the possibility of cat scratch fever, but except for the fact that the original sore on my lower arm was caused by my then-kitten, none of the other symptoms of that disease fit what I've been experiencing. One of the cat scratch fever symptoms is swollen lymph nodes, which I wondered about before I saw the surgeon, but once he stuck that needle in my armpit, I soon found out it wasn't my lymph nodes that were swollen! I'll mention it to the doctor next time I see him, just in case; I'm sure by then, I'll have imagined several alternate diagnoses that I'll want to explore anyway.

Sheesh! It seems like it's always something, doesn't it?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey! Look! She Really CAN Embroider!

Really, the running joke among those who know me has been about my embroidery abilities--or lack thereof! I've been taking Gran's embroidery class for the past year and I'm not sure anyone's seen me complete anything--mostly, I'm really good at BUYING stuff like patterns, floss, needles, etc. But now I finally finished something--this Mother's Day tea towel, which is a free design from Bird Brain Designs--click HERE if you'd like to make it too. (I enlarged mine a bit on a photocopier.) Gran and I went to a sewing and craft show back in March and met the ladies of Bird Brain Designs--they were so much fun to chat with!

I'm really not supposed to be doing much hand stitching. The physical therapist told me I could try it and see if it bothered my hands, and it seems okay for short periods, so that's what I've limited myself to--short periods every now and then. I've been working on this project for about three weeks now.

Of course, isn't that just like me? Here I haven't done hardly any stitching for the past year until now, when I know I shouldn't be doing much, and THEN I finish a project! Still, it's nice to get something made, isn't it? Maybe I WILL get Hocuspocusville done someday!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sew Happy!

What a difference a day (and a big needle!) makes. I've been feeling so much better today--not quite normal yet (whatever THAT is), but at least I've felt like I had some energy and a little more interest in life.

Yes, my--I'm not sure what to call it. Lump? Mt. Vesuvius? Third breast? Well, whatever it is, it's still there and still a bit tender, but it's much smaller and much less sore than it was yesterday. And I slept pretty well--something I hadn't really been doing for the last several days when it hurt to move my arm.

What did I do today? I cleaned house! Maybe it's not that exciting to some people, but yesterday, before the doctor, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Now my house is nice and clean. I even cleaned out the refrigerator and put together a few meals for the next couple days using leftovers. I made stuff like homemade croutons, tomato/vegetable soup, and mac and cheese with ham. Yum! And, now that I think about it, I actually had an appetite today. I didn't realize my appetite was missing, but today food TASTED good.

What else? I went into the Sweat Shop and SEWED! I've been working on a larger version of a Schnibbles pattern, Plan C, for the last week or so, but I really haven't felt very motivated. I'm happy to say that I finished the top today. Yay me! I'm teaching a Schnibbles class in about a month, and I wanted a sample of one of the larger quilts using two layer cakes instead of two charm packs--this one was made with Minnick & Simpson's Bar Harbor line.

I haven't measured it, but I think this quilt measures around 65" square--a really nice size, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get far enough back to get the whole quilt into the photo, but I think you get the idea, right? I'm just missing the side borders and the corners, which are four-patch blocks. I'll get a better photo another time--maybe when I get around to quilting it.

Once I finished Plan C, I pulled out my Spooktacular jelly roll and got busy with the next Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along block. We were given the pattern for this one nearly two weeks ago I think, but I wasn't able to set my other projects aside and make it until now.

I like the way block 3 turned out and I think it looks great with the other two blocks we've made so far--

If I've got my dates right, we'll be getting another block pattern in a couple days, and I'm kind of excited!

Now that I'm feeling better, I realize how unenthusiastic I've been over the last couple weeks. It's funny how much everything is affected when we don't feel quite right, isn't it? Or maybe I'm feeling happier because of dessert--antibiotics four times a day that must be taken with food definitely means dessert is a necessity for that fourth meal. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Happy weekend everyone!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Armpit Cancer Update

Isn't it funny how I say I'm taking a break from blogging--and then DON'T? Had you noticed? Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on my armpit cancer saga. No, I don't REALLY have armpit cancer--at least, not that I know so far. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about and didn't read my earlier post, "I Think Zebras," then click on the title and read it first--it will make this post make more sense, I suspect.)

As I've mentioned in the last few posts, I've had a reoccurrence of the pain that I originally suspected was armpit cancer. You'll probably remember that a few weeks ago, my workers' comp doctor examined me and thought it was most likely a strained or pulled nerve due to the unreasonable exercise demands of my physical therapist. Remember that? Because I'm such a worrier, at the time I asked him if he was SURE it wasn't MRSA (a nasty form of staph infection) that had traveled up my arm and seeded in my armpit--that would have been as a result of the staph infection/sore on my arm I'd had treated back in January. (Yeah, I know he probably thinks I'm nuts.) He promptly reassured me that it was unlikely due to the location and nature of the pain, the ongoing nerve problems in my arm, and the fact that my armpit wasn't red and swollen (and I knew I didn't have a fever--another sign of infection).

Fast forward a couple weeks. The pain had been fading, but around about a week ago, it started coming back. I thought I'd stressed the nerve somehow getting ready to teach the wool class, and I was feeling awfully guilty, although I couldn't imagine WHAT I'd done that I shouldn't have. By Monday, the pain was worse and it felt a bit swollen. Day by day, it got worse and worse, and I kept replaying in my head the whole conversation with the doctor and weighing whether to remain calm, limit my activities, and wait it out, or start to panic again. By Wednesday night, the area looked a bit red. So now it was red AND swollen, something it wasn't when I saw the workers' comp doctor--although the pain felt the same and the location was about the same. So what to do? And--if I WAS going to see a doctor--should I see the workers' comp doc or my regular family practitioner?

Because I'd called in prescription refills to be picked up today at the pharmacy in the building where my family practitioner is located and had also arranged to meet a couple friends for lunch nearby, on a (rather painful) whim, I decided to see if my doctor might have an opening in his schedule this afternoon. As fate would have it, he DID! So, after lunch with my friends, I headed to his office and showed him my armpit tumor. It was hardly reassuring when he told me the first thing he wanted to do was call the surgeon to see if they wanted to do a needle biopsy or send me for a CT or what. So while he was in the exam room with me, my family practitioner called the surgeon, and the surgeon told him to send me right over and they'd stick a needle in it and see what happened. Yay! (Not! That's sarcasm. The last thing I wanted was someone to stick a BIG needle in a rather PAINFUL armpit tumor!)

The surgeon's office was in a larger medical center/hospital a few miles away, so I hopped into the car and drove over there. And what did he do? He stuck a couple smaller needles into my armpit to numb it up a bit and then he stuck the BIG needle in and drained out what seemed like all of my bodily fluids. Ick.

So what do you think? Cancer? I don't think so. Whatever it is will be cultured and he'll let me know. If it gets worse in the next several days, I get to go back and he'll have at it with his scalpel; if not, I'll keep on with the antibiotics. In the meantime, although it's not completely gone, a lot of the pain and pressure has subsided and I feel much better.

Needless to say, I'm awfully glad I finally decided to go to the doctor. As a layperson (albeit one who frequently diagnoses dire diseases in myself), it was hard to decide to seek further medical help after being reassured by a doctor that there's nothing to worry about and that it will just take time to heal. I don't mean to imply my workers' comp. doctor was incorrect or did anything wrong--after all, when he saw me, I didn't have the same signs and symptoms I did today. But I'm glad--sometimes!--that I worry as much as I do because THIS time it prompted me to follow up with another doctor who was able to get me the treatment I needed for this problem.

I won't be surprised to find out it is staph, but we'll see. In the meantime, I'll be taking the antibiotics, which are rather strong and may make me feel a bit icky. If I don't write, it's probably just because I'm resting up and healing and don't have much more to say. But you know me--I'll probably write anyway! Thanks for visiting!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Goin' in Circles

Since some of you seemed disturbed by the arms, I figured I'd post something different for you to look at.

Go HERE to vote for your favorite circle quilt--they're all awesome! That's something I'd like to make someday--a circle quilt! Have you?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


So THAT's what happened to my arms! I'm taking a blog break for a couple days until the problem resolves. Hope to be back with you again soon!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thank You!

First, I want to thank . . . . Now why do I feel like I'm beginning an Academy Award acceptance speech? I'll try to keep it short, although I have 124 people to thank and 3 companies.

I'll start off with the 124 people--that's all of you who voted for my Easter Hop quilt in the Quilting Gallery contest last weekend, of course! Thanks!

Next? Thanks to the Quilting Gallery for arranging the contest. I wasn't really aware that they were having weekly contests until I came across the information for the Easter themed contest. You can go to their site and click around and see what quilt themes they have coming up and enter YOUR quilts when the time comes--you don't even need to have a blog. It's really simple and fun! Thanks, Quilting Gallery, for giving us a place to showcase our creations!

I really want to thank the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the contest this time. There are different sponsors each week, and I was lucky enough to pick a week when the Fat Quarter Shop was generously giving the winner a jelly roll. As most of you know, the Fat Quarter Shop is a wonderful company to do business with and one of the most generous as well. Thanks!

Finally, thanks to Sweetwater for designing such wonderful fabrics. I picked a jelly roll of their Make Life line as the prize from the Fat Quarter Shop. I'm going to have to do a little shopping for some border fabric in that line and maybe a jelly roll quilt pattern. Oh, and maybe some of their cool buttons? Who knows what I might find I need? With Sweetwater products, there's certainly enough to get the creative juices flowing! Excuse me while I go get a towel and mop up.

So, anyway, thanks!

Oops! FOUR companies to thank! I'd also like to thank Moda, because if it wasn't for Moda and their precuts . . . well, it just wouldn't be the same!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Got Kool-Aid?

Okay, here's the promised post in which I tell you how to dye wool in your crockpot using Kool-Aid. Kool, huh?! At least half of the wool in the photo above was dyed using Kool-Aid.

In theory, you could probably use your regular crockpot since Kool-Aid contains food-grade dyes, but I decided I'd treat it like any other dye process and use equipment I'd set aside specifically for dyeing, so I bought a crockpot at the thrift store. Besides a crockpot, you'll also need packages of Kool-Aid, a wooden spoon, and tongs or something similar to lift the hot wool from the crockpot. The process will also require a bit of liquid dish detergent and some vinegar.

When I was doing the research on this process, I came across THIS SITE--if you scroll down a little, you'll see a chart that lists the Kool-Aid flavors and what color they result in. I suspect some of these flavors are no longer being made and others have taken their place. I've been asked if you can use powdered drink mixes other than Kool-Aid, and I don't know for certain, but I don't know why not unless they use different dyes. Also, Jello works if you can't find the color you want in Kool-Aid, but you have to use the sugar-free variety, and that's a bit limited, so I'd suggest you stick with Kool-Aid--just find a store that carries a good variety at a decent price. Finally, think about experimenting with mixing different flavors for different color results.

Now, here’s the method:

Select the wool you wish to dye. How much can you dye in one batch? Good question! Try not to overfill the crockpot with fabric--you'll want to be able to stir the fabric around so it dyes evenly. And, of course, it will depend on the size of your crockpot. I'd suggest that you'd want to fill no more than 1/5th or 1/4th of your crockpot with dry wool. Follow the steps below and see how that works out for you; adjust accordingly.

1. Presoak the wool in warm water with a little detergent and a tablespoon or two of white vinegar. (Vinegar is a mordant and will prepare the wool fibers to accept the dye.) Soak for approximately 20 minutes or longer (overnight is okay).

2. Add hot water to a crockpot and turn the control to high. Cover nose and mouth (I use a towel for this) to avoid inhaling powder and add two packages of Kool Aid; stir. (To achieve a deeper color or if you are mixing lighter colors such as green, yellow, or orange, add three or four packages rather than two.)

3. Wring out wool and add to dye liquid in uncovered crockpot; continue to stir occasionally. When liquid and wool are hot and steaming, turn crockpot control to simmer/low for 30 minutes.

4. After 30 minutes, the dye will be exhausted, which means that all of the dye will have been absorbed into the wool and the water in the crockpot will be clear. Turn crockpot off. (Water can be poured out and will not harm plumbing.)

5. Prepare a "bath" of hot water and a little bit of detergent. Transfer wool into water and agitate. Slowly add cooler water to the bath until wool has cooled enough to handle. Rinse wool free of any remaining detergent and wring water from wool. (Note wool will remain colorfast through rinsing. I do not know if the dye would wash out after repeated washings, but then again, how often would we wash wool? Still, from what I've seen so far, the color does not wash out or bleed.)

6. Dry wool in dryer on hot; remove just before wool has completely dried to prevent wrinkles.

Note: Here’s the fun part! Experiment with different base wools. In other words, try overdying wool that is already dyed; you will end up with a different shade of wool. Try dyeing gray wool for a dusky, country shade. Black and white weaves? Excellent! These are the most fun, as the white will pick up the dye color and the black will remain black. Don't forget to try overdying pastel shades, tans, etc. You'll end up with a nice variety of shades of wool, all from the one dye batch!

Previously felted or unfelted wool can be used in this process. After dyeing and drying, the wool will be felted and no further processing is necessary.

Any questions?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hope it Was Happy!

Soccer Son and His Lovely Wife to be Someday decorated Easter eggs on Saturday night and brought us one from each of them when they came for brunch on Easter. Looks like one of them isn't very well adjusted, doesn't it? All I can say is that he takes after his father.

Okay, I'm sure you want to know who won the Virtual Student Contest, right? The winner is Sharon Mac! Woo-hoo, Sharon! Sharon was the 15th commenter who asked to be entered in the contest, and since I had 14 "real" students, I thought it would be appropriate for the 15th person to enter the contest to become my 15th student. Makes sense, huh? (At least it makes more sense than a bunny with a skull face!)

My hands/wrists/arms/imaginary armpit cancer is really acting up--I don't know WHAT I've done to aggravate them, but I have my braces back on and I'll keep this post short. It sounds like a lot of you want to know about dyeing wool using Kool-Aid in a crockpot, so I'll post that information in the next post, okay?

Sharon Mac, email me your mailing address and tell me which of the three kits you prefer (bunny, bird with hearts, or crow with sunflowers)--I have some of each left over so I'll let you pick one. And for the rest of you who expressed an interest in the kits, I'll probably figure out what I have left and list some in my Etsy shop in the next few days--I'll let you know in a post when I've listed them. Thanks to all of you who entered the contest!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

All Can Now Be Revealed!

No, not another nude self-portrait! I know there are a couple of you who were startled when you read that title, weren't you? I'm talking about class! I get pretty excited about what I'm teaching, but I can't say too much ahead of time because I don't want to ruin the surprises in store for my students.

Remember the trip Gran and I made to the beauty supply store a couple weeks ago? Well, after we split up that day, I headed off to a few more stores--Goodwill and the grocery store--where I purchased these:

Can you guess what they're for? Well, remember the wool I dyed recently? I couldn't tell you then but I can now--quite a lot of it was dyed using Kool Aid and a crockpot! So today that was one of the things I taught my "kids"--how to dye wool in a crockpot with Kool Aid. Fun, huh?! I brought all my supplies to the shop and we dyed a batch a nice purple, and then I gave them the dyed wool to take home.

Since it was the day before Easter, I had to make sure my footwear was appropriate for class--not only stylish but cushy, too, for standing and talking and hopping around--'cause those "kids" kept me hopping!

I thought you'd also like to see what I handed out in class:

I gave them a handout covering where to find wool, how to felt it if it hasn't already been felted, and how to dye it. Then there was the pattern for the three projects and a kit. Finally, they all got an Easter egg filled with chocolate candy, a container with pins and a needle for stitching their kits, a pencil, and two packages of Kool Aid--exactly what they need to dye a batch of wool. Oh, and a tuffet--they each got to pick out a Schnibbles tuffet. (Then there were a few door prizes too, but they aren't shown here.)

Tonight, I'm tired! Hubby picked up a pizza and I'm ready to head into the Sweat Shop to see if I can keep my eyes open long enough to sew a bit. First, though, let me ask you this: Have you tried dyeing wool with Kool Aid and a crockpot? If so, what did you think? If not, would you like me to tell you how to do it? If there's much interest, I'd be happy to post information on the process. Just let me know!

Time to hop off into the Sweat Shop now. Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Virtual Student Contest

Saturday, April 3rd, Baa Baa Black Sheep . . . Have You Any Wool? Yep, that's the class I'm teaching at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks from 12:30 to 4 p.m. It's also the class I was supposed to teach in February, but then I woke up the weekend before with numb hands, and the rest is history--the class had to be postponed two months. Back then, I figured I'd be back at work and fully healed by now, but things haven't quite worked out that way. Still, with two months to prepare instead of one week, and with the help of family and friends, I'm ready to teach and raring to go!

I've designed these three little wool projects for the class. My students will get the pattern for all three but will only get the kit for one--whichever one they pick. They'll also get a couple little goodies, and I'm going to feed them salads--a pasta salad and a green salad. You see, I like to bribe them with treats, keep their hands occupied, and make sure they're full and content so they won't mind so much when I drone on and on for several hours about the wonders of wool.

Want to attend?

Okay, here's the deal. Leave a comment telling me you'd love to win some wool class stuff, and I'll draw a random winner on Sunday night--the winner will be announced on my Monday blog post. What will you win? The pattern, one of the leftover kits (I'll pick), a class handout about wool, and a treat bag. What won't you get that the other "kids" will get? Salads and the opportunity to listen to me talk for several hours. Bummer, huh? Sorry.

So, if you're interested, leave me a comment saying you want in the drawing, okay? Good luck--to both of us! I'll tell you all about the class tomorrow--assuming I survive the experience!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Vote for Me!

The Quilting Gallery is having a contest for the best Easter-themed quilt, and I submitted the quilt in the photo below--I named it Easter Hop:

Seriously, you don't HAVE to vote for me, but hop on over there and admire the cute entries! Just click HERE, and remember to vote for your favorite--whichever one that may be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Earlier Outing

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned an "older girls shopping trip" Gran and I were getting together for but I never told you the rest of it. Where were we going? To the beauty supply store of all Sacramento beauty supply stores, Total Beauty Experience. If THAT place couldn't help us, nothing could!

And what did we buy?

It's a sad fact of life that as we age, going to the beauty supply store no longer means shopping for bubblebath, perfume, and eyelash lengtheners. Nope! We women of a certain age go to buy hair remover waxes, nose hair trimmers, and various and other sundry products designed to beat back the natural aging process. Sigh.

Of course, we found a few "products" designed to deepen laugh lines rather than remove them--like the "vintage" look stickers and the Instant Happy Childhood Memories that came home with me. (The "memories" are for my brother--I'll give them to him next time we go visit.) Then there was this soap I found--I really wanted to get myself some because the sentiment was perfect . . .

Unfortunately, I didn't care for the scent--I think it was grapefruit and sassafras or something. Smelling that every morning would have just kept me feeling crabby all day long!

After exhausting ourselves shopping, we headed over to Danielle's for lunch and a little flirting with the waiters in a desperate attempt to pretend we're much younger than we really are. I don't know why, but our waiters kept getting off shift, going home, and passing us off to someone else. Could it have been because we hadn't used the werewolf wax and nose roto-rooter yet?

Lunch was very tasty, though! Both of us ordered the brie with baguette and antipasto as well as a side salad, which isn't pictured here (although we seriously THOUGHT the antipasto WAS the side salad for quite awhile because our revolving wait staff somehow overlooked getting our salads to us until we were about half done with the rest of our meal).

(And can I digress here a second? What's with the sudden popularity of raw slivered almonds? With this meal, they tended to just fall off the brie and bounce onto the plate. I noticed the same raw slivered almonds were served on my spinach salad last week with about the same result. They really aren't all that flavorful unless they're toasted and they tend to not stick to anything, so I keep ending up with a little pile of slivered almonds on an otherwise empty plate. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed this odd culinary trend?)

Oh, before I go--look what I found for Gran at the beauty supply store! Perfect, eh?! Now we just have to figure out who's who!