Friday, December 31, 2010

Maybe They're Not for Everyone?

I suppose all things end, eventually. Here it is, the end of 2010. Doesn't it seem like just a couple years ago we were all waiting anxiously to see what exactly would happen when the world reached the year 2000? Now we're heading into the 20-teens.

The end of 2010 also marks the end of Bearpaws & Hollyhocks. I've been trying to make it by the shop all week to take advantage of their 50% off sale but I didn't get there until today. There are still a number of bolts of fabric left on the shelves, but it's getting pretty empty compared to what it was just a month or so ago.

As I entered the shop, I was greeted by the owner, Lindy, who told me she had something special for me she had saved--the creepy rabbits I've been admiring for the past two years. Yes, I know--it was hard for me to contain my excitement TOO! I came as close to turning into a squeeler as I ever have!

I gathered the pair up into my arms and lovingly arranged them in the back seat of my car--of course I didn't mind playing chauffer to this endearing couple!

Sadly enough, Hubby wasn't quite as excited as I was. In fact, after looking at them sitting on the couch across from his recliner for ten minutes or so, he suggested they would be happier living in the Sweat Shop, so off we went, all three of us. And now they've found a happy home!

(Don't tell anyone, but I kind of half expected to go back into the Sweat Shop later and find they'd moved while I wasn't looking. That didn't happen. I will be seriously freaked out if it does, but maybe not too surprised.)

Of course, I didn't leave the shop empty handed but for the rabbits. No, indeedy! I found myself a nice, fat pile of fabric!

The shop had an extra incentive to purchase fabric in large quantities--not just the 50% off, but on purchases of 5 yards or more off a single bolt, the cost was only $4 a yard. Sure can't beat that!

I plan to spend what's left of the year in the Sweat Shop, although there's a chance Hubby and I might get together with our kids in the evening for a little bit. We won't know for sure, though, until a little later in the day. As you can probably tell, Hubby and I aren't big partiers, and the only reason we'll be up late enough to usher in the new year is because we are ALWAYS up that late. So how about you? What are your New Year's Eve plans?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tamale Time--Again

I know I've told the story before, but those of you who aren't long-time blog readers may not have heard it, so I'll tell it again. When I was a kid, my dad worked in a liquor store in a heavily hispanic section of town. Dad was quite friendly, and over the many years he worked at the store, he made quite a few friends. Traditionally, tamales are made and served in hispanic households each Christmas, and each year my dad would inevitably bring home two, three, or more brown paper lunch bags stuffed with tamales given to him by different customers. So, in our household, tamales became the traditional meal served sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Later in life, when I was 20-something, my crazy friend Lisa and I decided to make our own tamales. With the help of different cookbooks and some experimentation, we eventually succeeded--to our own satisfaction, at least. All I can say is that it's a good thing so many wonderful hispanic dishes are based on leftovers and whatever happens to be available, because I'm sure our tamales bear only a loose resemblance to the traditional styles.

You may recall that early in December, I had my stitchery ladies over and we made tamales. So, yes, I already made my quota for the season, and I have three or four bags of pork tamales in the freezer. For some reason, though, I decided I needed to make MORE--chicken tamales this time. And I needed to make enough to take to work to share.

So that's what I've been doing tonight--making chicken tamales.

Earlier in the day, I told another work friend my plan, and she offered to bring a salad. Then she offered to bring beans and rice. Before long, we had the whole lunch planned, so we emailed everyone, inviting them to come and bring something to share if they wanted.

I like the tradition I first experienced when I was young--sharing tamales with friends during the holidays. And I guess that's why I suddenly decided to make more tamales.

Now I'm just waiting for the last batch to come out of the steamer and then I'm off to bed. Fiesta tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baby it's Cold Outside!

But then again, this is California, so I suspect most of you have me beat when it comes to cold! And truth to tell, its not so much COLD, exactly, but it's awfully wet and blustery--the wind is gusting so hard at times the house is vibrating, and the patio Christmas tree has fallen over yet again--this makes something like the sixth time it's blown over this season, and I know tomorrow morning before work I'll be running around the front yard, searching out wind-stolen ornaments.

Tonight, though I wanted to show you one of the ideas that crossed my mind for this year's Valentine tree. A couple years ago, I received this tussy-mussy type paper cone ornament in an ornament exchange--I love it, don't you?

So this year, rather than sew more of Monica's Pennie Pockets (but only because I've been making them for two years for every possible occasion!), I thought I'd make paper cones to hang on the tree to hold Valentine's Day treats. When I stopped at JoAnn's on my lunch hour on Monday, I found a pad of 8" x 8" scrapbook paper on clearance or sale; I'm not sure which, but the price was reduced. AND it's perfect--the theme is Love and Wedding and most of it is red, white, and pink. Then I found a couple spools of inexpensive white lace.

My plan is to pick up a package or two of small pretzel rods from Trader Joe's and dip them in melted candy coating before rolling them in sprinkles--those will go inside the paper cones. I ordered cellophane bags to hold the goodies, and they'll arrive in my mailbox in a week or so. And yes, of course, I'll show you what I'm doing, and if it turns out as I visualize it, I'll post a PDF file of the cone pattern. If this sounds like something you might like to make for your friends for Valentine's Day, watch for it before too long!

Speaking of friends, a couple of mine are waiting for me.

Curling up on the couch with a good book and some hot chocolate on a cold winter night sounds just about purrrrrrfect, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Third Favorite Holiday

Or maybe my fourth. It's kind of a toss up because Easter is awfully good too. What am I talking about? Valentine's Day!

It's really not that I'm a romance nut and can't wait to bust out the chocolate hearts and flowers. Nope! It's just that Valentine's Day is such a happy holiday with colors, images, and fabrics that make for really excellent decorating. And it doesn't hurt that our weather is gloomy as can be leading up to it--I'm always more than ready for some bubbly happiness by the time mid-February rolls around.

If you've been reading my blog for a couple years, you probably already know--and maybe even remember--that I always have a Valentine's Day tree, but I usually don't remember to mention it until sometime in January when all of you have put away your Christmas stuff, so this year I thought I'd talk about it early--just in case you'd like to have a Valentine's Day tree too.

When I get around to taking down the Christmas decorations each year, I never want to take all of it down--those twinkling white lights are just too pretty to box up so soon, especially when it's gray and rainy out. So I re-decorate my kitchen tree for Valentine's Day. Here's a photo of the tree from 2008:

The same year, I decorated a second Valentine's Day tree for a quilt class I taught--the class project was a heart quilt, so I made a bunch of Monica Happy Zombie's Pennie Pockets that I filled with goodies and hung on the branches of the tree. (You can click on the "Monica" link to find directions to make these.)

Between my Valentine's Day decorating and the upcoming Be Mine Blog Tour, I'm going to try to remember to share with you a little more of my Valentine's Day ideas and patterns this year. Besides my project for the "tour"--which is yet to be revealed--I'm planning to make a few decorations for this year's Valentine tree. I'd also really, REALLY like to make a Valentine tree skirt, and I have a few other decorating ideas in mind.

If you'd like to play along this year, when you pack away your Christmas things, set aside a small artificial tree, a string or two of white lights, and whatever red, white, and pink decorations you may already have that might pass for Valentine's decorations and let's see if we can have a little fun, okay?

Monday, December 27, 2010


In so many ways!

First, because I spent some quality time today in the Sweat Shop. That makes me giddy!

Then there's this--

Yep, a whole fabric line called "giddy" that's filled with the color combinations I love. Take a closer look--

Love those reds, aquas, pinks, dark chocolate browns, and creams! Giddy indeed!

Finally, see that blog button over in my side bar? The Be Mine Blog Tour? That's the blog hop I'll be participating in as one of the designers. Not only does being asked to design a project make me giddy, but I'm using the giddy charm pack in my project.

I'll tell you a little more about the hop/tour and the project as we get a little closer, but it won't be long now--it starts on January 9th. Yikes! I guess I'd better hurry up and get my project finished before everyone shows up for the tour!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Aftermath

Did you have a merry Christmas? We did here in our home. Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday spent the day with Hubby, me, and the Wild Child. I'm pretty sure we didn't stop eating for more than ten minutes all day. Besides eating, we talked, laughed, opened gifts, and played a game or two.

I started preparing food and setting the table at around 10 a.m., and 11 hours later, around 9 p.m., things finally settled down and got quiet and everyone went their separate ways--Soccer Son went home (his LWTBS left a couple hours earlier to visit some other family members); the Wild Child did one final clean up in the kitchen and hauled all of her gifts and things to her room; and Hubby made sure he had a glass of ice tea and the remote control before sinking back in the recliner for some quality bonding time with the TV. And me? I bet you can guess. I headed to the Sweat Shop to finish up this the prairie point tree wallhanging designed by Cara and posted at the Moda Bakeshop.

This is the December project for the Le Petite group. I had prepared the prairie points and sewed the first five rows last week, but I really didn't think I'd find the time to get it finished with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas--but I did! Except, of course, for the quilting but I might get around to that tomorrow. And a few other final touches.

And yes, that's my one and only plan for Sunday, the day after Christmas--to spend it in the Sweat Shop! I hope you have equally exciting plans for what remains of the holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping by to say "hi"!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Here!


Have a MERRY one!

(The Wild Child's stocking, made on Christmas Eve.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Finding a Christmas Miracle

Most years, something happens during the holiday season that touches my heart in great ways or in small ways. Sometimes it's not obvious or apparent, but if I think about it for a few minutes, I'll recognize it. And sometimes it's something that can't be overlooked or ignored. But whatever it is, each year something occurs that makes me feel good about myself and the people who are a part of my life.

I don't remember from year to year each and every "event" that has brought Christmas into my heart, but I do remember a few of them.

When our children were very young, seeing their excitement after Santa had come to visit brought back for me the magic and wonder I felt as a child. What a joyous feeling!

And when our kids got a little older, we taught them to help those who were less fortunate than us. Really, what we did in purchasing toys and clothing for children in need was a very small thing compared to what so many do to serve the needy throughout the year, but seeing the light of compassion kindled in my children's eyes reminded me how rewarding it feels to help when we can.

In some years, simply baking Christmas treats on rainy December days, inhaling the perfume of cinnamon and sugar, has been enough to send a frisson of holiday excitement through my heart.

Last year, an excursion with friends to look at the holiday light displays in our city brought back that childhood feeling of Christmas excitement and anticipation. There's something about the twinkling lights that's quite magical, and I could sense a link between myself and the strangers we met who were out with their families, experiencing the same touch of magic.

And this year? For awhile, I didn't get it. I was so busy trying to get ready for Christmas and take care of my family that I didn't take the time to sit back and see what was happening around me--until today. And here's what I saw.

It started on Monday when a "Secret Santa" in our office left little gift bags on each of our desks. Inside were packets of drink coasters, and everyone seemed to have a different design on theirs. Gosh, didn't we all feel special? A couple of us discovered the identity of the gift giver, who explained to me that she did it because she just wanted everyone to have a little something to let them know someone was thinking of them. Also on Monday, some of us were given lavender-filled eye masks that one of the secretaries had made.

On Tuesday morning, a small package of petit fours appeared on each of our desks. If anyone discovered where they came from, I never heard. And later in the day, someone delivered small packages of soaps she had made to each of us--lovely scented little treats!

On Wednesday--well, you've seen the cocoa and candy cane cups I put together for everyone. Did I ever tell you they were for the secretaries and staff at the office?

On Thursday morning, a secretary who is a Tupperware dealer in her "free time," delivered to each of us a little Tupperware container filled with M&Ms. Another woman brought in two full trays of freshly made lumpia (egg rolls) to share. (They are one of my most favorite foods in the world!) Later in the day, another secretary gave jars of homemade cheese spread to a few of us. At the very last minute, another friend ran over with a little gift bag--she had nearly forgotten to give it to me. It was just a "little something" that let me know she had thought of me when she was out shopping. And, of course, I'm sure there were many other small remembrances exchanged between friends that I don't even know about.

All of these thoughtful little gestures added up to a bit of a Christmas miracle in my world. Sure, most years at Christmas time gifts are exchanged between friends in the office, but I don't recall another year when so many people took the time to do something for each and every one of us--there are about 20 or more non-attorneys in our office, so remembering everyone is a pretty big undertaking.

Of course, it's not the gifts themselves that are important in all of this; it's the fact that so many shared something of themselves with others. And I wonder whether the poor economy may have played a role in getting people to think of what they could DO instead of simply opening their wallets to purchase gifts?

Whatever the reason, I think I've found this year's Christmas miracle in my life. How about you?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas List for Older Folks?

What's on grandma's or grandpa's Christmas list this year? If it's a new desk top computer, lap top, or cell phone, you may want to pass on these "senior" texting and emailing abbreviations to assist them in communicating with their friends--

ATD: At The Doctor's
BFF: Best Friend Farted
BTW: Bring The Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM: Covered By Medicare
CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center
DWI: Driving While Incontinent
FWB: Friend With Beta Blockers
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
FYI: Found Your Insulin
GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
HGBM: Had Good Bowel Movement
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL: Living On Lipitor
LWO: Lawrence Welk's On
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas.
ROFL... CGU: Rolling On The Floor Laughing... And Can't Get Up
SGGP: Sorry, Gotta Go Poop
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
WAITT: Who Am I Talking To?
WTFA: Wet The Furniture Again
WTP: Where's The Prunes?
WWNO: Walker Wheels Need Oil

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Don't tell ANYBODY, but here's what I was making all those bags for last night:

Little holiday gifts of yummy goodness--hot chocolate mix in a cup with a candy cane topped with a chocolate dipped marshmallow. Want to know how to make them?

I won't explain step by step on the bags, but I made little bags about 4-1/2" x 3-3/4" and sewed the center of an 8" length of ribbon into one of the side seams about 1" down from the top to tie each of the bag closed.

I found a pretty good hot chocolate mix HERE, and I put a little less than a half cup of mix into each zipper-topped plastic snack sized bag, which I then tucked into the fabric bags and tied closed.

For the candy canes, I peeled the plastic covering away from about 1-1/2" of each of the straight ends and stuck them into large marshmallows. In the microwave, I melted semi-sweet chocolate baking squares and dipped the marshamallow end of each candy cane into the melted chocolate and rolled them in colored candy sprinkles.

I made the tags using a digital download I'd bought on Etsy and mounted them onto paper shipping tags; I added instructions for making a cup of hot chocolate to the tags. Finally, I made a trip to the thrift store to purchase a nice assortment of microwave-safe mugs--most were 49 cents each.

Oh, and the most important part? See that Santa mug? That's my own personal mug. (Not 49 cents at the thrift store either.) I taste tested the recipe out on myself. Yum! I think these little gifts are going to be much appreciated!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sometimes I Drive Myself Nuts!

As I was driving home from a little shopping trip tonight, I was finally struck by an idea for a group of people I know. I've wanted to do something for them for Christmas but I hadn't come up with an idea--and, admittedly, I hadn't devoted too much thought to it either, because there were more pressing issues. So here it is, only a couple days left until crunch time, and suddenly things came together in my mind.

I can't tell you much about it just yet because there's a chance a couple of the group might read my blog and that would spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that once I got home tonight, I went into the Sweat Shop and whipped up 25 small goodie bags:

Tomorrow night, I'll need to stop at another store or two to pick up a couple more things and finish getting everything ready. I'll show you what I'm doing once I've given these little gifts away.

But THIS is why I tend to get so much done. I'm endowed with a pinch of creativity, a cup full of optimism, and a quart of drive, and once I have an idea, I'm absolutely CERTAIN I can do it. And then I push myself until I've successfully DONE whatever it is--even if I have to just about kill myself in the process. But that doesn't matter, because I will have achieved my goal.

It's not easy living with myself, but I haven't figured out any other acceptable options yet. Sheesh!

Monday, December 20, 2010


If you're a local quilter, you may or may not have heard the news: Bearpaws & Hollyhocks is closing. It's sad to hear that our area is losing another quilt shop--we've had several close in the last couple of years, mostly due to the retirement of the shop owners.

For me, this means that not only will I be losing one of the local shops I count on for my quilting needs, but my teaching "career" will be put on hold for the time being. Two years ago, I couldn't imagine being a quilt teacher and now it's hard to imagine NOT teaching! But I'm looking forward to a little break--we all need breaks now and then. After that? Who knows?

Since I'll have a little more time, though, I've agreed to be one of the designers for a Valentine's blog hop--more information will follow after the holidays, but I'm kind of excited, and I wanted to let you all in on the excitement too! Gather up your pink, white, red, and chocolate brown fabrics because I think we'll have some fun ideas for you.

And speaking of after-the-holidays projects, did you notice the button in my side bar for Block-a-Palooza? Click HERE for more information--this sounds like it will be a lot of fun! I just saw the Sunkissed charm packs at the FQ Shop yesterday, and when I saw that the designers were planning to use that line, I ordered a fat eighth bundle. Cute stuff!

So, there are a lot of new projects and changes on the horizon around here, but first we need to get through the holidays. I still have quite a few things left to do before Christmas--how are you doing?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All The Latest

Hubby had a good night and slept well. He even had a good morning. Until we started to wonder WHY he wasn't in pain and got a bit worried. We called the advice nurse, which led to her calling a doctor, which led to us going down to the emergency room. One of Hubby's ongoing health problems is something called Raynaud's Syndrome, which is a vascular disease that affects circulation in the fingers and toes, so a lack of feeling can be a sign of circulatory problems, and since Hubby's hand was so well wrapped, we couldn't see if his fingers were turning blue and falling off. ARGH!

So, needless to say, much of the day today was spent in the emergency room. In the end, it was decided that most likely Hubby will be okay and the culprit causing the numbness was his recently-diagnosed carpal tunnel problems. The doctors agreed that the swelling in his hand from the surgery had affected the nerves, causing the numbness. They also wrapped his hand a bit looser for better circulation and guess what? By mid afternoon, all the feeling had come back into his hand and he was practically beside himself in pain, poor guy! Pain meds helped though.

With all of the medical drama today, we weren't able to attend our annual family Christmas get together at Hubby's parents' house, but that was no real surprise: When Hubby's surgery first got pushed back to late on Friday, I figured Hubby wouldn't be in any condition for a party. So, once we got back home from the ER and settled in with lunch and pain medications, we had a fairly relaxing day, which was something I think we both needed. I finally got into the Sweat Shop, and it felt like I'd been away for WEEKS instead of days.

In fact, I had forgotten all about the Layer Cake Quilt Along until yesterday, when I visited the Moose on the Porch blog and printed out the newest block. The block this time was designed by Sherri of A Quilting Life--you might know her from the monthly Le Petite projects and parades she hosts along with Sinta. Here's my version of her block:

I always like star blocks, so this one was a real treat!

With Christmas so close, I have a lot to get done on Sunday, but most of it will be fairly enjoyable, I think. I hope all of you are enjoying the season too--at least as much as possible! Thanks for stopping in for a visit.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

So Far, So Good

Thanks, everyone, for your support! I can tell that several of you have been in a similar situation and understand the frustration and mindless anger I've experienced this week.

As I was getting ready for work this morning, the surgery center called Hubby to say, "Don't eat or drink anything; we might move your surgery up. We'll call you." Hubby assured me that if they moved up the surgery, he'd get someone to give him a ride and would call me at work to let me know. Around 11:30 a.m., when I hadn't heard anything, I called him; he'd just gotten off the phone with someone who told him they were leaving him scheduled for 5 p.m. That meant he had a half hour window in which he could have clear liquids before his pre-surgery fast. ARGH!

So, guess what I did. I spent my lunch hour getting a pedicure! Seriously, being massaged and pampered while reading a good book for an hour or so is the best stress reliever around in my book--and I ended up with cute red toenails too, just in time for the holidays!

After work, I headed to the surgery center and was told Hubby wasn't out of surgery yet but would be soon. Sure enough, before a half hour passed, Hubby's surgeon came out to tell me what they'd done and to assure me the surgery had gone well. Another half hour passed and they let me go back to the postop recovery area to sit with Hubby until he was released to come home around 8:30 p.m.

Hubby's left hand looks like a big mitten--or, as he describes it, a Q-tip with a thumb. His hand will remain wrapped for ten days until he sees his surgeon for a postop check. So far--about five hours postop--he's not in too much pain, although the hand is still fairly numb. We'll see how the night progresses, but he has some good, strong pain medication to help get him through.

One of the first things Hubby asked about when I was with him in postop was food and whether I was going to cook or if we'd stop and get fast food on the way home. Sadly, his postop instructions dictated otherwise--clear liquids and bland, easy to digest foods, at least for tonight. So now he's eaten--if you can call it that--and called all of our friends and family to let them all know things had gone well. Maybe life can start getting back to normal now--or at least as normal as life ever gets.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Maybe It's Contageous?

I'm sorry so many of us are grumpy, but it's a naturally stressful time of the year, and I think the holidays increase the grump factor two- or three-fold.

What's caused my grump is Hubby--and maybe some of you could attribute your grumpies to a similar source, although for different reasons. I told you the other day that Hubby tipped over in his new-to-him electric scooter/wheelchair and broke his finger. Dumb accident. So here's what's happened since and a bit of why I'm so grumpy about all of it.

Yes, they decided Hubby needed surgery. (They'll also be testing him for osteoporosis a little later in the month.) Yesterday (Wednesday), the orthopedic department at the medical center sent him off to the main hospital facility to see a specialist for surgery because xrays determined he had shattered his knuckle and had five to seven bone fragments floating around; so the bones in the finger would need to be pinned. The ortho guys thought the surgeon would operate on Wednesday, so the Wild Child ferried Hubby around all day, from one appointment to another until they confirmed, at the end of the day, that they wouldn't be able to do surgery until today (Thursday) because they didn't have the device they needed. They were Fed Ex'ing it in, and they scheduled surgery for Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., with Hubby to be admitted for pre-op prep at 12:30 p.m. So I arranged to take the day off to take Hubby to have surgery.

And on Wednesday night, Hubby decided he couldn't get out of his recliner very easily with the broken finger, and he thought moving the furniture around would help. Remember Hubby has muscular dystrophy? We try to do what we can to make things easier for him, but I gotta tell you, moving the furniture around when there's a Christmas tree and decorations taking up room is not something I'd undertake lightly, but that's what we did, the Wild Child and I--we moved the furniture around in the living room.

You know when you go into a thrift store and they have a bunch of furniture sitting around in no particular--or pleasing--order? That's what my living room looked like, and it was neither comfortable, attractive, nor easy to move around in. But we moved the furniture the way Hubby wanted it in hopes that things would be at the right heights to push up off of without using his injured hand. And although I really hated the way it looked, I might have gone along with it but for the fact that a little bit after the furniture had been moved, I found Hubby sitting on the floor because he'd not been able to get up and slipped. So I knew then that something else would need to be done, but what? And that's about the time I wrote last night's "grumpy" post.

To be honest, I was really pretty angry. Of course, it wouldn't make sense to be angry at Hubby because he hadn't done anything wrong except to get hurt, but I kind of WAS angry at him anyway. But mostly I was just angry at LIFE and the things we have no control over. And that kind of anger is frustrating because there's no resolution to it. So I just wrote my post and went to bed.

This morning I got up and moved the furniture in the living room again. The result is that it LOOKS a lot better and Hubby can get up out of the recliner, although he's still having a hard time. At this point, though, we realize it's not the furniture and maybe it's time to install a pole in the living room so he can use it to pull himself up--we have one next to his side of the bed so he can get up in the mornings and it works well. (Lift chairs don't work for him because he doesn't have the back muscles needed to get up; same thing with canes and walkers. Mostly he straightens up by pushing up with his hands and forearms.)

After rearranging the furniture, I did some other straightening up and organizing around the house, and that lightened my mood some too. Then it was time to take Hubby to the surgery center, so we packed up our things, got in the car, and headed down there.

Poor Hubby--today was the second day he had to go without food or anything to drink most of the day. We checked him in and they took him back to prep him. A little before 2 p.m., they allowed me to go back and see him before surgery, and I was told that if I wanted get out for awhile and run a few errands, this would be the time to do it; I just needed to return by around 4 p.m.

Well, it was a good opportunity to grab an iced latte from Starbucks, do a couple Christmas errands, and get a few things from Trader Joe's for easy meals over the next couple days while Hubby recovers from surgery. I returned to the surgery center at 3:50 and sat in the waiting room for about 20 minutes before a nurse came out to ask who I was waiting for and led me back to see Hubby.

And, as it turns out, there was some kind of problem so they had to postpone surgery until tomorrow (Friday) at 5 p.m. Can you believe it?! Yep, I was pretty darn grumpy again. So mostly this afternoon, Hubby just took a nice little nap while I ran errands.

I took today off work to take Hubby to surgery, but I don't feel I can take another day off, so tomorrow Soccer Son will take Hubby to the surgery center while I work, and after I get off work, I'll go wait for him to be released and take him home. Assuming they FINALLY do the surgery.

Yes, I'm still grumpy tonight but I'm not as angry as I was last night. I suspect that anger without any direction or target can't really be sustained for very long. There are times with Hubby's disease that I get angry and frustrated, as I did the last couple days, but it passes, and then we try to deal with the cause as best we can. Hopefully Hubby will have the surgery tomorrow and he can begin to heal; hopefully he won't develop any complications; and hopefully he won't be in too much pain over the next few days. And I'm pretty sure HE's hoping I'll stop being so darn grumpy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Have You Considered a Helmet?

Remember the repeating sketch on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In of the old man on a tricycle who falls off all the time? Wasn't that funny?! Maybe not so much in real life, although I keep picturing that sketch in my mind and shaking my head.

Hubby was recently given a motorized scooter chair and took it out for a spin today for the first time while the Wild Child looked on. Somehow, as he got a little bit down the street, one of his wheels rolled over the curb--we have these gently rolling curbs here rather than the type with 90 degree edges--and sure enough, he tipped the thing over.

I came home early from work to find the house empty, although that didn't alarm me as I knew Hubby had been thinking about doing a little shopping and I figured the Wild Child had gone with him. It was only after I'd woken up from my nap that I learned where they'd been--the hospital. Turns out Hubby broke a finger in the fall. Tomorrow he'll go back to see the orthopedist, who will decide whether to put the hand in a cast or operate on it to place a pin in the finger. Sometimes I think Hubby does these things to get out of chores at the busiest times--like dish washing at Christmas time. And remember how he broke his leg just before my carpal tunnel surgery?

Okay, yes, you're right--it really ISN'T all about me, is it?! I'm joking, of course, and yes, I do feel bad about Hubby's injuries. In fact, I've suggested seatbelting him into his wheelchair and making him wear protective head gear from now on, but apparently a broken finger does not prevent a person from flipping another person off. I remember when Hubby first got his standard wheelchair and we went away for a long weekend to a cute, seaside town. While I was shopping in one of the quaint little shops, Hubby was outside, tipping over backward in the street in his new wheelchair. Sheesh!

Seriously, you would think wheelchairs and other assistive devices would be designed to be especially safe for the handicapped, but apparently they're not. I'm just glad the Wild Child was home today to help get Hubby back up and home after the fall and then to the hospital for treatment. It's always something, isn't it?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time Flies When You're Having Fun . . .

or getting ready for Christmas!

It was a busy day of work, followed by our stitchery class's Christmas potluck/ornament exchange, and capped off with a shopping trip to WalMart. Then home to put things away, catch up with Hubby on the home happenings, and do whatever else needed to be taken care of--and SUDDENLY it's after midnight and I need to get to bed so I can get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

A couple of you asked about the quilt in yesterday's post. It's the Butter Churn pattern by This & That; similar in idea to Schnibbles in that the pattern uses charm packs and is tabletopper size when completed. I used Basic Grey's Figgy Pudding line (I had a fat eighth bundle, so my fabrics are a little less scrappy). Here's a photo of the whole thing, quilted:

I finished the binding tonight, which is a good thing because it's a gift I need to send off tomorrow. And tomorrow's going to be another busy day, so I'll say goodnight and wander off to don my winter 'kerchief and get into bed now. I'm glad you could stop by for a quick visit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Practically Paradise

Baking . . .

Quilting . . .

Reading . . .

Livin' la vida loca. Yes, that is just a tinge of sarcasm you detect, although this was my day and it wasn't a bad one. I think I'm just getting a little stressed about Christmas. How about you?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Gotta Be A Sickness

Just as the swallows must return each year to Capistrano, I guess I'm compelled to do this Christmas baking thing. I hope I'm not boring you by talking about it again, but that's really all I did today and I think there might be more of it tomorrow. So at least pretend polite interest, okay?

Today I made Nanaimo Bars. Have you had them? Really yummy! Those Canadians really know how to do things right up there, eh?! The recipe I linked you to is the one I used--the only problem I had was that the stuff didn't come out of the pan very well, and some other recipes I saw suggested spraying the pan first with cooking spray. Also, my chocolate layer broke up a little bit--which doesn't detract one bit from their yummy goodness, but they just aren't quite as pretty. And now that I've looked at other recipes, I see they recommended bringing the pan of bars back to room temperature before cutting--that's what I did wrong. Anyway, if you have any inclination to make a batch of really good stuff this year, try these. Yep, they're THAT good!

What else did I make? Brown sugar cookies. They're a tradition in our home, and my mom used to make them too. Simple to make and a nice, uncomplicated cookie that's excellent with milk, coffee, or tea.

Then I made some of those melted chocolate, nuts, and chow mein noodle things. Another simple recipe I wanted to try and hadn't until now.

After that came spicy glazed walnuts. Hot, salty, and sweet--all the good stuff wrapped up in one treat. And they're made in the microwave, so they're pretty easy.

Finally, I made the first part of another cookie/candy thing that has to go in the freezer for a few hours before being rolled and dipped in melted coating. I'll finish those tomorrow.

I think that's all unless I'm overlooking something. But I still don't know why I'm doing this. When Hubby worked, I always sent a tray of cookies to work with him, but he doesn't work any more. And I used to take cookies to work with me too, but this year we had the cookie exchange, so I don't know--maybe I will take some one of these days but they sure don't NEED them there. In past years, we gave cookies to family and friends as gifts, but we kind of stopped doing that too. So I don't know who I'm baking for, but I've made several treats already, and I'll be making at least a few more things tomorrow.

I'll confess something to you though: I'm getting kind of burned out, and I just might not make ALL of the treats I had originally planned yesterday. I'd kind of like to do something this weekend besides hang out in the kitchen, and I already have plenty of cookies made. In fact, if you're in the area, stop by for coffee and a couple cookies. I sure have plenty and after all, tis the season! Fa-la-la and all that stuff!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Obsessive Baker

Last night I baked cookies for an exchange at the office today. A lot of cookies. The recipe for Bird's Nest Cookies didn't say how many cookies it made, so I thought I should double the batch. Just in case. About seven dozen cookies later, I realized I had more than enough cookies. In fact, I had long since run out of Special Dark Kisses and switched to peppermint.

(Yes, as a matter of fact, I DID have to buy a new plate to display my cookies. Don't you think they look SO MUCH better that way?)

So in that photo above, I have maybe half of them or a bit less; the rest are in the freezer. And who are the cookies in the freezer for? I have absolutely no idea.

You may recall I had an idea when one of the recent designer/blogger Christmas hops started that I was going to bake some/all of the cookies and freeze two dozen of each for Christmas. Who were they for? I have absolutely no idea. I do have about four or five dozen cookies in the freezer though.

After today's cookie exchange, I came home with a tray of cookies. Who are they for? Well, I'm pretty sure Hubby will claim them and the rest of us will get a few too.

Tonight I went through my cookbooks, loose papers, and scraps, searching for all the "must bake" Christmas cookie recipes. Then I made a grocery list of supplies I still needed. I was enthusiastic. Then I thought, "who am I making cookies for?," and I was a little less enthusiastic. But still, I went shopping, spent a bunch of money on fattening stuff none of us needs, and this weekend, I'll bake. Why? Probably some primevil instinct that causes women to bake Christmas cookies each and every year.

So tonight I'm wondering: Do you bake for Christmas? And do you have a special cookie or treat that you absolutely MUST make each Christmas because if you don't, the world as we know it will end? I'd really like to hear what your family can't live without, so please leave me a comment. I have a weekend of baking ahead of me, and I'd like to know that I'm not alone in this obsession.

By the way, those Bird's Nest cookies were really good and a hit with my co-workers. Kind of a not-too-sweet shortbread type cookie rolled in nuts with a Hershey's kiss added after baking. You can click on the name in the first paragraph to get to the recipe. And, by the way, it probably makes about 3 to 4 dozen, depending on the size you make them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good For a Giggle

I'm deeply immersed in the whole cookie baking experience this evening, so rather than try to be creative myself, I thought I'd just copy a glowing product endorsement to my blog for your reading enjoyment.

"Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have. I've used it all of my married life as my Mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my fifties I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to belittle me about how clumsy I was and generally started becoming a pain in the neck. One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white blouse! I grabbed my bottle of Tide Plus Bleach Alternative, and to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative, and then my attorney called and said that I was no longer considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.

What a relief! Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having a great product.

Well, gotta go, I have to write to the Hefty bag people."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hop on the Party Bus!

Today was our (my office's) annual San Francisco shopping trip--and here's the party bus that took us there.

By the time we arrived in the city, which is about a two-hour drive, I thought I was going to be ill from motion sickness, but I managed. A bit of fresh air and stretching my legs once we arrived helped quite a bit. It was raining when we left Sacramento and raining when we got to San Francisco, and that didn't change the whole day.

Traditionally, once in San Francisco, we all split into small groups and go our separate ways--here are the two gals I was spending the day with. I took this photo before we left Sacramento.

Yes, as a matter of fact, we did have a couple drinks during the day--why do you ask?!

Our first stop was for lunch at Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern--the photos I took there came out really dark, so all I have is to share is a photo of the postcard our waiter gave us--

Really good food. My companions ordered the fried chicken, which the restaurant is famous for, but I ordered Santa Maria tri-tip (thinly sliced thick steak) and it was also good. (I tried a piece of the chicken too.) The meals were accompanied by popovers, which were an interesting change from sliced bread. We split an appetizer plate of deviled eggs--an odd choice but also something the restaurant is known for. My friends also split a bowl of mushroom soup and an order of brussell sprouts (they said they were really, really good, but I have my doubts; after all they WERE brussell sprouts! Ick!), but I just couldn't eat that much, especially after the bumpy ride.

I took a photo in Noe Valley, where we shopped the afternoon away. I think I have a photo of the same intersection last year (24th and Noel). You can see how wet and dreary it was today; last year it was cold and a little damp but we didn't have rain.

You all know my mouse story. Well, I came across this little mouse in a shop and decided I needed to have it to remember the year by:

A bit LATER though, I found THIS mouse--really cute! Yes, she came home with me too. Now I have a few mice, but at least they don't eat stuff and make messes like the live one did!

You may remember I mentioned we have a cookie exchange on Friday; I found this book at the Boudin Cafe gift shop area and saw it contained what appear to be some really YUMMY cookie recipes (how could they NOT be yummy? They're chocolate!), so I thought I needed it too.

Most of what I bought today are intended as gifts, so I can't show them to you. And I tried to resist Christmas decorations because I kept hearing Hubby in my head, telling me I have too many Christmas boxes and letting me know he thinks it's a sickness. But (besides the mice which don't really count, right?!) I did buy two small glitter birds--this one says "Wish" and the other says "Dream."

And that's exactly what I plan to do next--dream! Because that two-hour ride home in the party bus? Well, let's just say my stomach isn't feeling too great right now, but I'm sure it will be fine by morning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Layer Cake Quilt Along--Block 3

I FINALLY had a little time alone in the Sweat Shop tonight, and I spent it making the latest layer cake quilt along block--or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. While the original pattern was nice, I decided to make the handle a little more "all of one piece" in appearance; I was fortunate that my layer cake contains two squares of many of the fabrics, so I could squeeze out the extra I needed.

I have to warn you though: the camera really seems to HATE the red and white fine stripe I used as a background, and looking at the photo might make your eyes go funny depending on your monitor and the size of the photo!

Fortunately that doesn't happen in "real life"--it looks pretty normal.

At some point down the road, I think I might like to add some yo-yo "flowers" to the basket or maybe applique something in there, but I think I'll wait to see what the rest of the blocks look like before deciding.

Now that I've gotten my little sewing "fix," I think I'll be able to sleep well tonight. And it's time for me to head in that direction--I have a big shopping trip planned for tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Busy Time of Year!

It seems there are so many things going on at this time of the year that there's very little time for sewing. I've been trying to get back into the Sweat Shop this past week to finish the Christmas quilt top, but so far I haven't had a chance.

My stitching friend Julie (there's a link to her blog in my sidebar) took photos at the tamale-making extravaganza and sent them to me yesterday, so I thought I'd share a couple more--not photos of tamale making but of a couple areas decorated for Christmas. My house is quite small, as is Julie's, and she liked some of my storage solutions, so she wanted photos to show her family and remember what I'd done; only a few of the photos she took were actually of Christmas decorations. First is a photo looking into the kitchen, and you can see the kitchen tree--

Next is a photo of the fireplace mantle--

She also sent me some wonderful photos of our group of ladies, but I don't know how they'd feel about their photos showing up on my blog, so I'll keep them to myself for now.

My vacation is over and I returned to the office today. Another secretary covered my desk while I was gone, so it wasn't at all overwhelming to go back, but there was plenty to do as usual. Then, tonight after work, I made a trip to WalMart. All of our secretaries and staff are preparing stockings for a local homeless shelter, and I was able to get most of the items on the list of "provisions," although I'll need to make one more stop for a couple items I couldn't find. We'll be having an office lunch on Friday, and the stockings will have to be turned in at that time.

This week the secretaries and staff also have our annual trip to San Francisco to look forward to--that will take place on Wednesday. On Thursday evening, I'll be baking cookies for a cookie exchange at the office during the Friday office lunch. Are you as tired as I am just thinking about the week ahead?! It's all fun, though.

Anna posted some questions about the gingerbread houses, and I thought I'd tell you a little story and answer them at the same time. Last year when I went to my friend Lisa's house to decorate gingerbread houses, she opened a couple boxes and pulled the houses out. Now generally I'm pretty much a "start from scratch" gal, but I've had issues with gingerbread over the years, so I thought the pre-made houses were truly the way to go. When this year came around and I thought about how much fun we had last year, I figured I'd pick up a couple boxes of houses--originally I thought it would just be me and the Wild Child, so I bought two boxes. A bit later, I had the idea that we would make it a FAMILY OCCASION, and I invited Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday. I decided to add another couple houses and picked out a different model this time--and I could see, because they were packaged in clear boxes, that these new houses would need to be "assembled" before we could decorate them.

So, Saturday night, after making tamales, I got out the two houses, mixed up a batch of icing, and assembled them before falling into bed, exhausted. Sunday morning arrived, and the FAMILY OCCASION was set to begin at 1 p.m. Around noon, I opened the boxes of houses and found, much to my dismay, that THESE needed to be assembled TOO! And when I read the directions, I found I was supposed to put them together and let the icing set for two to three HOURS! YIKES! This was not at all what I expected! It turned out okay though--we started on the ones that had been assembled the night before and by the time we got to the other two, they had dried sufficiently so there were no catastrophies.

I started wondering, though, whether I was wrong about the houses we decorated last year at Lisa's being preassembled--could one of her daughters have prepared them ahead of time and I just didn't realize it? Well, tonight when I was at WalMart, I took a closer look at the boxes of houses and I realized I had just bought the wrong ones--YES, you CAN buy preassembled houses, but you need to pay attention to what the packaging says is inside. And I highly recommend, if you're planning to decorate gingerbread houses this year, that you buy the kind that are already assembled. Having done this now a couple years in a row, I don't think the really fun part is the gingerbread baking, trimming, and assembling; I think the true joy comes when we all sit down together and get creative with decorating, sharing ideas, challenging one another, and making silly jokes.

As busy as this time of year is, I need to always remember to slow down a little and savor the experiences that bring joy to me, my family, and our friends. And if you don't find a new blog post from me each day, I'm sure you'll know I'm just busy enjoying the festivities of the season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sweet Stuff

Another day spent in the kitchen! This time, I was decorating gingerbread houses with the family. Hubby chose not to decorate one; instead, he watched football and kept us all updated on the scores and admired our houses.

Well, I guess he wasn't always admiring. Best quote of the day? Hubby to the Wild Child's boy friend: "Marty, with all due respect, what the hell are you making?!"

Here's their creation:

Marty had to head back to Chico in the mid afternoon, so he and the Wild Child got an early start on their house--since Marty's visit was a last minute decision, we didn't have a house for him, but he and the Wild Child were happy collaborating.

Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday each had their own house and knowing my son, it's better that way, although they were both supportive of each other's efforts and shared ideas.

Soccer Son's house has solar panels on the roof, I think:

And his is a little minimalist for a gingerbread house, but I think he was just as interested in watching football with his dad as he was decorating his house, so his attention was divided.

His Lovely Wife to be Someday covered her house--you can see a front view in the first photo above, but I wanted to show you the back, which I thought was rather clever!

So clever, in fact, that I stole the idea for the sides of my house--I really liked the pretzel squares on point. I already used pretzel squares on the front and roof of mine, but after I saw hers, I added them to the sides too--on point:

The houses were left here to dry for the night and Soccer Son will pick up theirs tomorrow; in the meantime, I was able to get some photos for you. It was a lovely way to spend a rainy December afternoon!

For those of you who may have printed or downloaded a copy of the Christmas Wreath version of the Paganini quilt, there was an error in the original published directions--I had said to cut 72 1-1/2" squares from the gold fabric for star points, when it should have been 144 squares. The corrected pattern can be found HERE.

How observant are you? If you've been reading my blog for a bit, you've probably noticed I don't publish photos of me--other than my nude self-portraits! But in the first photo above, there's a picture of me and the Wild Child--probably taken about 20 years ago. Neither of us looks quite the same these days, as you might imagine! Did you spot it before I told you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tamales, The Sequel

Oh, I'm so full . . . and so tired!

My gal pals came over today and we had a blast making tamales, exchanging little Christmas gifts, chatting, and laughing. Oh, and eating, of course! Can't forget that part!

And can you believe I didn't take any photos? Seriously! I was so busy demonstrating and then keeping everyone supplied with tamale dough and steaming the tamales that not only didn't I take any photos, but I only make three tamales myself and I ATE one of those when the first batch came out of the steamer!

Luckily Gran was one of the invitees, and she took enough photos to fully and completely document the day. Here's one of my favorites:

One of our friends brought the fixings for Mexican hot chocolate and made us a couple batches. That's what you see here. Yum!

Here are a couple "tamale photos" for your viewing pleasure. First up is a shot of the table at the beginning of the day with many of the things we'd need to make the tamales. Everyone brought their own prepared filling--that's my pork filling sitting on the table in a big plastic bag, and Gran's beef filling is in the pot to the right.

One of the several batches of tamale dough I whipped up:

And, finally, evidence of our handy work. This was just the first batch, or maybe it was the second batch, to come out of the steamer. (The black marks are the maker's initials so we could divide them back up after steaming.)

This year I broke down and bought a REAL tamale steamer pot--up until now, I'd just rigged up something that would do okay, but after making tamales for something close to 15 years, I figured it's something I'll probably keep on doing, so investing a small amount in a steamer made sense--and it sure came in handy today because I could steam a TON all at once. Of course Hubby's grumbling about where to store the darn pot the rest of the year, and I'm sure the only thing keeping him from suggesting "hoarding" again is the sure knowledge that if he does, homemade tamale goodness will never cross his lips again in this lifetime.

Tomorrow my kids, their significant others, Hubby, and I are getting togther to decorate gingerbread houses, watch football, and eat soup. Needless to say, the LOOOOOOOOONG table remains set up in the kitchen one more day. And I'll try to get some photos this time!

Oh, and if you're feeling at all sorry for me and my lame three tamale count? I spent the evening making tamales (while watching TV) and ended up with a couple dozen. Yum!