Friday, November 30, 2012

Comfort & Joy

I'm behind.  If you came here looking for my last Comfort & Joy block, you won't find it--I know, because I've looked.  I hoped the quilting elves would have come in while I slept and got me caught up--after all, it IS the time of the year for elves, right?  But no, so sad.

I think most of us who have been working on this project realized it wouldn't be done--as in quilted and bound and ready to use or display--in time for THIS Christmas, although I think there may be one or two over achievers who will put us to shame.  I WILL continue to work on the quilt--I think I have two blocks left plus the borders--so if you're interested, check back every now and then.  And if you've been watching the progress of the other quilters . . . those other quilters who actually ARE making progress . . . and think you'd like to make the quilt too, I'd encourage you to do so.  It's going to be a great quilt someday!

Tradition With a Twist

If you live in the United States, you probably know the story of the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans shared a harvest feast, right?

On Thanksgiving morning, before we left our hotel to go to the Wild Child's home, Hubby and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant--by the way, I wanted to share a couple photos of the beautiful view we had as we ate.  In the first photo, off on the horizon on the right side of the photo is the ocean.

This second photo looks toward the rolling foothills and meadows.

How ironic is it that we spent our Thanksgiving holiday lodging at an Indian casino, and dining ON THANKSGIVING at the Indian casino restaurant?  We may well go back next Thanksgiving, and if we do, I'm thinking about wearing something like this:

Would that be wrong, do you think?  Hey, at least I'm not thinking about strutting around in nothing but my underwear and a Native American headdress!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Beginning to Look . . .

A couple weeks ago, Soccer Son came over to climb up a ladder to the garage rafters and hand boxes of Christmas decorations down to Hubby.  There are a lot of boxes stored up there, and in any given year, I may only use about half of the decorations, because I like to change things up and cycle things in and out.  And although I may have a few vague ideas in mind before I get started, I don't truly know what I'll use and what I won't until I'm well into decorating.

On this particular day, I stepped out to the garage to greet Soccer Son shortly after he arrived, and Hubby asked, "Is there anything you don't need us to get down for you?"

I thought for a minute, but as usual, I had no idea.  Being the smart Alec that I am--and because Hubby really SHOULD know my decorating methods by now--I replied, "Yeah, you can leave the ugly stuff up there."

Soccer Son leaned back against the washing machine, crossed his arms, and said, "My work here is done then."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Harrington & Hannah, Block 10

From what I've learned of the "old days," there was a time when ladies would sit and visit with one another while working on a piece of hand stitching.  Everyone--everyone who was female, anyway--did it, and so it was common practice.  Today, it's unusual.

When I went to the Wild Child's home for Thanksgiving, I brought with me the Harrington and Hannah block that I'd prepared a few weeks prior--I knew it was something I could stitch easily while sitting and visiting.  But what I didn't think about was that we'd be spending time with people who weren't used to the idea of hand work.  Manager Man's mom was very interested in learning about quilting and whatever else I was working on.  She told us she'd never really had any hobbies and was thinking she'd like to find something that interested her.  She loves pillows and thought maybe she'd like to create pillows.  She was familiar with the blanket stitch I was using for the block but she didn't know about the applique process, so I spent a little time explaining to her what I was doing, although we didn't get very far before it was time to help with the dinner.  After that, I never did get back to working on the block that afternoon.

Later in the evening, back in our hotel room, I took the block out again and worked on it for a little bit while watching TV, but before long, the day caught up with me and it was time to go to bed.

On the drive home from Eureka, I tried to work on the block again, but it seemed with all the bumps and curves in the road, I was sticking my own fingers with the needle more often than I was sticking the fabric, so soon Harrington and Hannah were put back in my project box.

I finally got back to working on that block tonight and finished it.  This is the October block--so I'm a month behind again.  Where has fall gone?

And with Christmas in sight, catching up with all of these projects isn't going to get any easier!

If you work on hand stitching, do you take your projects traveling with you or do you leave them at home?  Most of the time, if I'm going to be gone long enough, I'll take projects with me, but more often than not, I don't seem to be able to get anything done on them unless I'm spending time with other stitchers.  Maybe that's why stitching in a social setting used to work for women back in the day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Evening After . . .

By Friday, Manager Man's parents had gone home, so there were just the four of us.  As a last minute thought before getting on the road to the Wild Child's house for Thanksgiving, I'd grabbed a bag of decorative candies left over from last year's gingerbread houses, and I packed them along with everything else we were bringing.  Later, when the Wild Child and I talked about what we wanted to do Friday evening, we agreed that decorating gingerbread houses would be a great idea, so she and I picked up a couple gingerbread kits while we were out and about that day.

In past years, the Wild Child and MM had collaborated on decorating houses and Hubby's never had much interest in participating at all.  Based on those experiences, we thought what would likely happen this year was that we'd park Hubby in front of the TV while I decorated a house and the Wild Child and MM shared another.  Boy were we wrong!  The Wild Child picked out a Christmas train kit to decorate and I picked out a house kit.  By the time we "glued" the pieces together and were ready to make a quick run to the store for additional decorating candies, MM had pulled a package of graham crackers out of the kitchen cabinet and Hubby sat down to watch.  And by the time we returned from the store, they were both happily building their own . . . projects.

First, I'll show you MM's creation--a taxi cab with two chocolate covered marshmallow Santas in the front seat--wearing seatbelts.

The taxi actually started out as a Humvee, but somewhere along the creative path, it morphed into a taxi.

And Hubby made a graham cracker outhouse.  With a very happy gingerbread man with huge eyes.  I think maybe Hubby hasn't participated in the gingerbread soiree in past years because his creativity has been stiffled by gingerbread KITS.  I'm not sure, really, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.  I'll have to give it some thought before next year.

And here's the Wild Child's train--driven by Santa, of course.  We found Santa at the store when we went to grab more candy--along with his blue penguin friend, who is riding in the coal candy car.

And here's my happy and conventional gingerbread house.

But what you can't see from that side is evidence of what can only be a rather disturbed and twisted mind.

Can you see the house come alive with window eyes and a mouth where the door should be?  And that's a poor little gummy bear there in the doorway, about to be eaten.  So sick, so sad.

If someone was to psychoanalyze the four of us by our gingerbread creations, I think the Wild Child is probably the only one who wouldn't be recommended a long course of therapy.  It's been suggested that eating turkey makes a person sleepy; I wonder, though, if eating turkey also makes a person slightly disturbed.  Someone should study that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Again!

How was your Thanksgiving?  We had a wonderful few days with the Wild Child and Manager Man.  MM's parents joined us for Thanksgiving and everyone contributed to the meal.  The lack of conventional appliances wasn't nearly the challenge we thought it might be.  MM's mother brought a couple pies, sweet potato casserole, and salads, and I brought the stuffing, which we cooked in a crockpot.  I also picked up some turkey gravy from Trader Joe's, and it was nearly as good as homemade.  MM barbecued the turkey (which the Wild Child had brined and then applied a rub to), and the Wild Child made mashed potatoes and cranberry dressing.  Before all that though, for appetizers she made an artichoke and arugula dip, stuffed mushrooms, and smoked salmon with dill cream cheese and capers on crackers.  Yum!  She found several of the recipes she used in the Food Network Thanksgiving magazine, and she carefully picked dishes she could make without a conventional oven or stove top.  I was SO proud of her and what she was able to accomplish the first time she hostessed a holiday meal.

Our dinner wasn't fancy or formal, but the food was excellent and the day was spent with family and friends, which is the most important part of Thanksgiving, after all.  I'll tell you a little more about our time away in my next post.  And although we had a great time, it's still good to be home again!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Adventure

Thanksgiving's going to be a little bit different for us this year.  For one thing, Soccer Son is married now, and he and his Lovely Wife are honeymooning in Maui.  The Wild Child is also gone, living in Eureka, a six-hour drive away.  When Hubby and I got around to thinking about how we were going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with both our children gone, it occurred to us that it might be fun to join Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife in Maui.

Sadly, the bank account didn't agree.  So instead, we're setting out Wednesday morning to drive over the river and through the woods--the giant redwoods, that is!--north to Eureka to spend the holiday with the Wild Child and Manager Man.  And, as it turns out, Manager Man's parents also thought it would be a good idea, so they'll be arriving sometime on Wednesday too.

I don't THINK the Wild Child minds that we've invited ourselves to her home.  Then again, I don't THINK it would matter if she did!  Seriously, though, we would have been just as happy to travel to Eureka and take the couple out to dinner, but the Wild Child and Manager Man thought it would be a fun challenge to tackle the holiday meal themselves; after all, while they're not experienced chefs, they both have a lot of experience serving food and drink to customers and even preparing simple meals, so why not?

Well, actually, there are some very obvious answers to the "why not" question.  Like the fact that the only oven they have is a toaster oven, if you don't include the microwave.  And the fact that they don't have an actual stove top--I think they have a burner or two, but that's about it.

So Manager Man's parents are bringing a barbecue grill.

And we're bringing a second toaster oven.  Oh, and they DO have a crockpot; we're bringing a second crockpot.  In fact, we're also bringing the dressing to cook in the crockpot.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner should be a little bit of an adventure, don't you think?  I was reminiscing with a woman at my office about how ill equipped we were for cooking when we first started out on our own.  Remember not having enough pots and having to make do and be creative?  I do!  So does my friend.  She described cooking potatoes in a coffee maker!

So I'm sure we'll do fine, and I think it will be fun.  And, of course, the most important thing is that we'll all be together.  Still, it doesn't hurt that if things go terribly wrong, we'll be lodging in a hotel/casino where I suspect food and drink is available 24 hours a day.

I'll be away from the computer for a few days, which means I'll be away from all of you too.  I'll "see" you here again sometime over the weekend when we get home again.  In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Going to Need a Bigger Table

The Christmas Chaos quilt top is done, and if this thing is going to be a table topper, I'm going to need a bigger table.

I laid it out on our king-sized bed, just to get an idea about size, and as you can see, it covers the top and then some.  How did that happen?

When I first came up with the idea for this quilt and was calculating size, I had a straight set in mind, and I planned to make it either three blocks by three blocks or four blocks by four blocks.  Then I turned the blocks on point and added more blocks.  Instead of 16 blocks, I needed 18 blocks.  And sashing to tame it.  So it kind of grew when I wasn't paying attention.

And, as you can see, I went with the white sashing.  Like a number of you, my heart said go red, but when I thought about it more, I realized the red wouldn't contrast enough to break up all of those crazy patterns in the blocks, so in the end, I went with white and used the red in the cornerstones.  And I'm happy with the lattice effect the white gives it too.

I'm not quite sure where I'll use this once it's done, but I have a few options--none of which involve putting it on top of a table.  I was hoping to finish the piecing and get it pin basted this past weekend, but it just didn't happen; maybe next weekend.  I realize it's been awhile since I quilted something; there's a lot of satisfaction in sewing on a binding and knowing you're just about done with a large project, isn't there?

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Crafts

Sunday was largely a day of organizing things around the house.  I packed away my summer clothes and got out the winter ones.  I separated all the Christmas "stuff" that had been accumulating in the computer room into categories:  decorations, craft supplies, and gifts.  Decorations were moved to a cupboard for a week or so until it's time to get them out.  Gifts were moved into the Wild Child's former room.  That left all the Christmas craft supplies.  I thought it was probably time to get going on a couple.

I purchased a snowman form at Hobby Lobby several weeks ago.  The success of the gingerbread men arrangements gave me the idea of making him into a table arrangement, so on Sunday, I built a snowman.  That sign he's holding says "Believe"--hard to see in this photo, I know.  This guy will be going to another home eventually, but I'll enjoy him for now.  (He still needs some battery operated Christmas lights, as I learned from Imelda and the gingerbread men arrangement!)

Next, I planted a forest.  Something I saw in a magazine gave me the idea, so I've been gathering stryofoam cones of different heights and sheet moss (actually sold as moss tablerunners) over the last couple of weeks, using all the 40% off coupons I could find!

The glass candlesticks were mostly thrift store finds.  Next time you see these trees, I think they'll be on my livingroom mantle.

(In case you want to make something similar, the tallest cone was around 19" and the shortest was about 8".  To cover the five cones, I used two pieces of moss--one tablerunner that was 14" x 48" and one that was around 16" x 18".)

I still have several other Christmas crafts to work on, but I'm happy to have completed these two, except for a few finishing touches.  All in all, it's been a fairly productive weekend!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Arts and Crafts Day

I didn't get very much sewing done on Saturday but I did get a few other things accomplished that needed doing.  I finally consigned most of the pumpkins to the green waste bin, except for a few that I gesso'd and glittered for the Thanksgiving table.  Also for the table, I made these canning jar candles:

When Imelda and I went to Apple Hill a few weeks ago. we saw something a little bit similar that gave us the idea, so before our last gathering of our stitchery friends, she and I made "candles" for everyone.  These actually use those flickery battery operated "candles" that look reasonably lifelike.  I used some scrapbooking paper decorations, ribbon, bells, and artificial leaves and flowers to make them a little more attractive and put rocks and potpourri in the bottoms to cover the bases of the "candles."

Now that I've cleaned up the mess I made as a result of my "creativity," I think it's time to make myself a cup of hot chocolate and think about getting ready for bed.  There's a lot more to do tomorrow--there always is!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday Night Sew-In

One of these months, for the Friday Night Sew-In, I want to get off work a little early and hurry home to put my jammies on, make a cup of hot chocolate, and sew.  Instead, what usually happens, as it did tonight, is that I get off work late, have to grocery shop on the way home, then sit down with Hubby for dinner, and by the time I make it into the Sweat Shop, it's already around 9 p.m.  Oh, well, at least I got to sew, and since it's Friday night, I didn't have to stop early and get to bed.

So here are all the blocks made for this chaotic Christmas quilt I've been working on--I DID get that part done tonight:

Thank you all for your comments yesterday in answer to my query about white sashing or red sashing.  I think it was fairly well divided although the white might have been slightly ahead.  A few of you wanted to see what the blocks would look like with each.  I realize this doesn't give you a very good overall view, but maybe it will help a little:  Here's the white:

Here's the red (actually I have a different red and white polka dot I'd use because I don't have quite enough of this one, but the other one is pretty similar):

And here's Stitch, sitting on both backgrounds.

So, what do you think?  I like the pop of the red, but I also think the eye needs a resting place, and the white provides that--although the colored dots keep it from being boring.  If I go with the white, I could always add a small outer border of a red (although probably not more polka dots!) before the final border, which is a blue background with red poinsettias (that print isn't in these close up blocks with the sashing but it IS in the first photo on the right side of the quilt, about a third of the way down from the top).

Stitch says it's time to go to bed, so I will--I have lots of sewing and decorating ahead of me this weekend so I should get some rest.  If you have an opinion about the sashing, please leave me a comment.  Thanks for your help!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Chaos

I thought I should show you that I've been working on the blocks I showed you the other day--I haven't just been shopping non-stop this week.  I still need to make one more whole block to go in the open spot and eight half blocks to fill in the triangles around the outside.  And maybe four quarter blocks for the corners.  But I have 12 blocks done so far, although right now it looks a bit chaotic.

See what I mean?  All the blocks I've made are up on the design wall, on TOP of the red and cream quilt pieces, and these blocks kind of just bleed into one another, don't they?  I'm planning to add some sashing between the blocks so they can stand out on their own better.  I'm leaning toward white sashing but I was originally thinking of red with white polka dots.  What do you think?  White?

Did you know that tonight, Friday night, is the monthly Friday Night Sew In?  I signed up and plan to work on this project--maybe I can get the rest of the blocks done and start on the sashing.  Ideally, I'd like to get it finished this weekend and maybe even pinned for quilting.

If you haven't signed up and want to, just click on the button on my sidebar a little way down the page there.  I bet you still have a project or two you'd like to work on, right?  Maybe we can sew together.  I'll bring the hot chocolate if you'll bring the marshmallows.  See you there!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Seasonal Shopoholic

It's the time of year, again, when I haunt craft, bargain, and home decorating stores day and night (really, that just means I shop on my lunch hour and after work).  Because each year, I like to pull something new into the Christmas decorations, just to keep things fresh and interesting.  AND, of course, I like little craft projects, so I've picked out a couple I want to try this year.  That all means I've had to go out to gather my supplies.

In something like four days, I've been to three different Michael's stores.  Why?  Well, three things:  First, three shopping trips means three 40% off coupons.  But, second, I also blame it on these.

I showed these to you the other day, remember?  That first day, I bought five "bushes"--each bush has six poinsettia stems.  I showed the photo to my friend Missy, and she loved them too, so I told her if I went back to Michael's, I'd try to pick some up for her.  Yesterday I went back to Michael's and picked up five bushes for her and two more for me--because I'd had an idea that red and white polka dotted poinsettias would be the decorating theme this year.  I'd figured I'd use them in the kitchen and in the adjoining living room.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought seven bushes (42 flowers) just might not be enough.  So tonight I stopped at another Michael's.  They only had two bushes left.  Is that enough?  Nine bushes?  Maybe.  Or maybe I'll stop at Michael's one more time--the store I visited last night still had a few bushes when I left.

Besides Michael's, I've been to JoAnn's, Tuesday Morning (two different stores, two different shopping trips), and the Dollar Tree.  The "office" room where my computer lives tends to be the room that collects things like craft projects, supplies, decorating goodies, gifts, etc.  If I don't stop shopping soon, I'm not going to be able to find the computer any more, because it will be buried under "stuff."

Tonight we had our monthly Thimbleberries Club meeting, and we always have show and tell.  My stitchery friends, who also belong to Thimbleberries, brought their gingerbread men arrangements--I did too.  I've got to tell you, though, that darn Imelda outdid all of us!  She is so darn imaginative and clever, she always manages to do something special; this time that meant adding a battery powered string of Christmas lights to her gingerbread men arrangement!  Sheesh!

Well, that brings us to the third reason I had to go to Michael's yet again.

Hubby says the only way Imelda can out do the rest of us now is if she adds motion-activated Christmas music to hers.  I sure wouldn't put it past her!  I wonder if Michael's carries anything like that?  I may have to go back again tomorrow to find out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Else Have I Missed?

Sometimes I come upon ideas rather late, and this was one of those times.  Does everyone but me know about creating faux Mercury glass with Krylon Looking Glass paint?  When I was looking at examples of another idea over at Pinterest, I came across the Mercury glass thing.  I thought it was very cool; I also thought it might make the perfect gift for a friend's birthday.  So I went right out and tracked down a few pieces of glass and a can of Looking Glass spray paint.  Here's what the birthday gift looked like when it was done--I also added a ribbon and I decorated a grape ivy wreath for it to sit in.

But before it was all dressed up, here's what it looked like, along with a small globe glass, holding faux candles--I love these flickery, battery operated candles, don't you?  The one I bought for my friend's hurricane glass uses fairly normal batteries (AAA) and has a timer that will turn itself on at the same time every night for five hours and then turn itself off again.  Amazing!

So here are the necessary supplies--the Looking Glass paint, a generic spray bottle filled with water . . .

. . . and glass that's been taped off.  The paint is applied to the inside of the glass, so I've used sandwich bags and masking tape to cover the outsides of the glass.  I did the same thing with the hurricane glass but used a larger bag.

First I sprayed a very fine mist of water on the insides of the glasses.  This was done to keep the paint from adhering uniformly.  After that, I began lightly spraying the paint, building it up over the course of several (five to seven) coats and allowing them to dry for a minute or two between each coat.  The paint is thin and runs easily; it's recommended that if the paint begins to run, the glass should be turned upside down.

Once I had a heavy enough layer of paint, I allowed the glass to dry for five to ten minutes.  There are a couple different methods that can be used at this point.  Some recommend simply wiping the insides gently with a damp paper towel and some recommend first spraying the insides with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution, letting it sit for a little bit, and then wiping away some of the paint.  I tried the vinegar-water spray and it worked fine.  The idea is to remove some of the paint so it looks like an aged piece of Mercury glass or an antique mirror.

After the glass thoroughly dried for about an hour or so, I applied a couple more light coats of the paint, just enough to "fog" the clear glass areas.  I'm not much for bright and shiny silver, so once the paint dried again, I also wiped and dabbed the insides with an acrylic stain to "age" the silver a bit.

I also thought it would be a good idea to seal the surface with a couple coats of varnish.  By the time I was done with all that a day or so later, I tried the pieces out with faux candles and decided too much of the paint had been removed, so I sort of began again.  This time I just misted a little water and then sprayed a few coats of Looking Glass paint.  Between everything I'd already done, that last application of the paint seemed to "crackle" or pucker up a little in places, which was EXACTLY perfect!

Click HERE to check out the blog I started out reading from Take the Side Street and see her results.  Wouldn't these make romantic Christmas decorations?  Or great Christmas gifts?  I think so!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NOW What's She Up To?

Remember I mentioned the other day that I was working on an older Thimbleberries quilt project that I was going to show you after I finished the applique?  Well, I did the applique and I'm close to finishing the quilt top, but I needed more of one of the fabrics to do the border, so I had to order it from an online shop.  As a result, I couldn't work on that project this evening.  (And I don't think I want to show it until the border is added since it's so close.)

Of course, could have worked on the red and cream quilt.  That's the one where I need to sew together the 12,682 2-1/2" squares (maybe a slight exaggeration on the number of squares, but it seems about right).  Well, I sat in the Sweat Shop tonight and looked at it on the design wall, and then I looked a little more.  But nothing sparked me into getting up off that chair until my thoughts wandered to my stash of Christmas fabrics.  I thought I might just take a little peek at what I had.  (Of all my regular cotton fabrics, only my Christmas fabrics are hidden away--in another room, in fact!  Last year I decided not to give them shelf space any longer since they're so seasonal.)

When I poked around in one of the drawers that holds the Christmas stash, I came across an older jelly roll of a Robert Kaufman line called Sparkle All the Way--I think it came out about two years ago.  And I had some additional yardage suitable for borders.  So I pulled that out of the drawer and decided to see what I could do with it--something simple but colorful, I thought.  Maybe a tabletopper for the kitchen.

Since each strip is 42" long, I decided to cut the strips into 10-1/2" lengths, which meant I could get four pieces from each strip.

I decided to make blocks consisting of five strips each--which meant the blocks would measure 10-1/2" square.  I made four blocks using the same five strips in the same order--so all four blocks looked identical.  I then cut each of them on the same diagonal--you can see my ruler laid out on top of the block below.

That gave me four identical triangles with the long pink strip you see at the top side of the photo, and four more identical triangles with the long white strip you can see on the bottom.  I then sewed the triangles back together as you can see in the photo below.

To make two blocks, I used five of the jelly roll strips.  At this point, I'm not sure if I'll make 9 blocks for a 9-patch set or make it larger using 16 blocks, but in case you want to make something similar, 16 blocks would take 40 strips, which is perfect for most jelly rolls.  And each block is around 14" unfinished, I believe, so a 4 x 4 set would end up measuring around 54" without borders added--plenty large enough for a tabletopper or lap quilt.

Really, I have absolutely no business getting sidetracked with this project considering all the other things I've started--and you don't even know the half of it!--but I'm glad I did anyway.  I think this quilt will look so happy and cheerful, I won't be able to help but smile, even when I'm far, far behind on getting everything else done.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This and That . . .

I very much enjoyed reading what all of you have - or have not yet - been doing about Christmas this year.  I had plans to do more around the house this weekend to get fall packed away but here it is, the end of the weekend and fall is still everywhere I look.  Hubby agreed to help out this week; if I take it down, he'll pack it up.  Works for me!  So I'll do a bit each evening.

One of my favorite Christmas books that I purchase each and every year is the Gooseberries Christmas book.  Between the crafts and decorating ideas, food gifts, and recipes for holiday meals, I always find enough to make the purchase worthwhile, especially since I usually also go back and look at the earlier books each year.  This weekend I found a couple ideas in that book and a few magazines that I'd like to incorporate into this year's plans, so I made a list and headed to JoAnn's and Michael's--yes, this is exactly why I didn't have time to get fall put away!  But I found just about everything I needed and then some.  Seriously, check out this Michael's find--they weren't on my list, but I just couldn't pass them up:

How cool are polka dotted poinsettias?  If I knew they existed, they certainly WOULD have been on my list!

Oh, and that This and That title?  It actually referred to the giveaway for the little All the Trimmings pattern by This & That.  The winner is Vikki who said:

"This year I'm pulling out all the stops and decorating for both Thanksgiving & Christmas because it's possibly the last time our daughter will be home for both holidays for a long time. She's in her last year of medical school and interviewing all over the country for general surgery residency programs. So I'm going to make these holidays super special. The only mag I've bought is the Land O Lakes All About the Holidays receipe collection. I'd love the chance to win the pattern--I have a couple of hers and I love them! Love your blog too!

Vikki, please email me your mailing address and I'll get the pattern in the mail to you.  Thank you all for your comments; I hope Santa will be good to you and make up for not winning my little giveaway.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Home Opener

I hadn't mentioned it before, but Soccer Son is now playing professional indoor soccer.  Tonight was their opening home game and the facility was packed!

Soccer Son's team is called the Sacramento Surge, and they are a brand new expansion team.  Last weekend they played their first two games away against the Anaheim Bolts at the Anaheim Convention Center followed the next night by a game against the San Diego Sockers at the Valley View Casino Center.

Playing in large arenas like these was a new experience for Soccer Son.  When he was a teenage soccer player, Sacramento had a professional indoor team that played at what was then Arco Arena where Kings basketball is played, and we used to go to those games whenever we could.  I'm sure he could only dream then that someday he'd be playing arena soccer.  There were over 3,500 fans in attendance at the San Diego game.  These first two photos are from that game.  (We weren't there, but I was able to pick up these photos off Soccer Son's Facebook.)

Soccer Son is the guy in the white shirt on the right.

Since the Surge is a brand new expansion team, they're still learning to play together as a team, and they aren't nearly as good as some of the other teams that have been together for several years.  The Surge lost both of their first two away games but the experience of playing at that level was so exciting that not even a couple losses could dim Soccer Son's enthusiasm.

Tonight's game was played at Off the Wall, an indoor soccer facility that is essentially a large warehouse space--not quite the level of professional arena play of the first two games, but it's what the Surge can afford for now.  They're hoping to move into a professional arena in the next year or so.

And while the facility isn't very large, as I mentioned, it was packed tonight for the Surge's home opener against the Las Vegas Legends.  Unfortunately, the Surge lost this game too.

The night was marred by great deal of rough play, penalties, and time outs.  The Surge seems to have a few hot heads on their team; hopefully, that will change over time.  I'm sure that facing their third losing game in a row, many of these young men were frustrated and had a difficult time controlling their testosterone- and adrenaline-fueled tempers.  Although Soccer Son is an aggressive player, he rarely plays dirty and almost always maintains a level of calm that surprises me sometimes.

Whenever the Surge had to play a man short due to a penalty, Soccer Son came out to help defend the goal, and he did a great job holding off the other team.    He also scored one of the team's two goals for the night.

While I would have loved the see the Surge win their game, I can't say I was too disappointed since we were able to witness Soccer Son's first professional goal.  But most of all, I was proud to see how he played the game fairly, beautifully, and with integrity.  Go Surge!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christmas Dreaming

I know it's only been about a week since Halloween, but I'm already doing some serious thinking about Christmas.  Just today I picked up this magazine at JoAnn's.

And no, it's not the first Christmas magazine I've purchased.  Once we get into fall, I'm on a constant hunt for Christmas magazines to spark my creative processes.  I accidentally purchased two of the same issue of Country Sampler magazine last week; luckily one of my friends hadn't purchased one yet, so I was able to find a home for the duplicate.

On the day I stayed home sick from work, Soccer Son came over and helped Hubby get all of the Christmas "stuff" down out of the garage rafters, so I can start decorating soon.  We won't be home for Thanksgiving, so there's no need to hold off on decorating until that holiday has passed.  Every year I say I'm going to keep it simple this year, . . . but then I never really do.  But maybe will be the year.

Have you started thinking seriously about Christmas yet?  Have you done any Christmas shopping?  Or made any gifts?  Have you found any really excellent magazines or books full of Christmas ideas?  If you'd like a chance to win this pattern for a small (30" x 30") quilt, leave me a comment telling me where you're at with your holiday planning and what's inspiring you this year.

I think this would make an excellent tree skirt for a small tabletop tree, don't you?  I'll draw a winner's name on Sunday night--come back on Monday to see who won and, if it's you, to claim your prize!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ah, That's Better!

Thanks for the well wishes.  After writing my post last night, I scheduled it to publish at midnight and went to bed--I turned out my light at around 9:30 p.m. and slept until 8:30 a.m.; then I called in sick to work.  We had a storm system moving through, bringing snow to the mountains and rain to the valley this afternoon, and in hindsight, I think it was just about then that I started feeling better.  I suspect it was either the change in barometric pressure or that the rain washed away whatever allergen was making me miserable--or both.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of errands and things to take care of before Saturday, so now I'll have to double up on Friday to get everything done.  Oh, well, I might as well get used to it--it's coming into that time of the year when constant errands and running around in preparation for the holidays is the norm.  I noticed several holiday-themed commercials on TV today.  Yikes!

I didn't do much of interest today--for the most part, I just read a book and put together Harrington and Hannah "kits" for my stitchery friends.  But I can show you something I hadn't shared before--how far I'd gotten on my red and white quilt project by the time I stopped the other night--I think it was Monday night.

So far, this is all just stuck on the design wall and nothing except the flying geese are sewn, so sewing is the next step.

And that's a lot of little squares to sew together too!

I suspect you don't recall, but when I started the year's goals, I'd planned to pull out a strip of paper each month telling me which unfinished Thimbleberries project I should complete.  I think I got to the second or third month and started a project that took a couple months and still wasn't finished.  Since then, it's languished on the design wall because it needed some applique, and I was trying to keep up with the BOM projects instead.  You can actually see just a bit of that project up above the red and white quilt in the second photo.  In any event, I've decided that when I get together with my stitchery friends on Saturday, I'm going to work on that applique and try to get this project finished before too much longer.  I'll show you how it's coming along after I've had a chance to do a little work on it.

Now it's time for me to get to bed.  One more day of work before the weekend, and I want to make sure I get a good night's sleep so I feel fine tomorrow.  Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calling in Sick To Blogland

One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingys . . . .  "Hey, this is Kim.  I'm not feeling well; I don't think I'll be coming in to Blogland today.  I'm just going to stay in bed and rest."

[Mumble, mumble, mumble.]

"What did you ask?"

[Mumble, mumble, mumble.]

"What's wrong with me?  Well, I'm not sure.  It feels like it could be a head cold, but it could just be allergies--it's that time of year.  Then again, based on the pressure, one definite possibility is an alien baby inside my head, trying to get out."

[Mumble, mumble, mumble.]

"Yes, thanks; I will take something for it.  Maybe a bottle or two of Nyquil would do the trick.  Feeling the way I do, there's really not much point in remaining conscious.  Hopefully, if things work out okay, I'll see you tomorrow.  I'm heading back to bed now.  Bye."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glued to the TV . . .

Although the presidential race was called hours ago, here in my part of Northern California there are several congressional races that are too close to call, and a number of propositions that are running very close as well.  I've had a hard time pulling myself away from the TV as the percentage of precincts reporting climbs incrementally higher and higher.

I DID think the presidential race would be close enough to be more reminiscent of the George Bush/Al Gore election of 2000, but it didn't turn out that way.  But all of these California races I've been watching have been see-sawing back and forth, and it will probably be another day, if not longer, before we know the outcomes.

I made a point of being away from the TV this evening; I didn't return home until the 11 p.m. news came on.  I knew I'd get nothing accomplished if I was home.

Seriously, I'm not that political.  I really don't like discussing politics or even thinking about politics.  In fact, I ignore the campaigns as much as possible and put off thoroughly reading and weighing the ballot measures until I know it's time to get serious and pay attention.  Why, then, am I so invested in watching the outcomes on TV on election night?  Maybe it's a little like watching a sporting event and not being able to walk away until the game's over.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Forget . . .

To get out and VOTE!

Unless you're voting for that other guy.  Then you can just stay home and forget about it.

Just kidding!  DO vote--your choice counts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

More About Doctors . . .

Last week, one of the local news stations ran a piece "exposing" a surgeon who had allegedly botched numerous surgical procedures and was still practicing.  The piece was done by the station's consumer reporter.  I hate hearing these stories because the reporters are often very biased and seem to simply seek out the sensational stories.

Quite often when these types of stories are broadcast, it's because an attorney for the "victims" has brought the story to the media, and there's really nothing a doctor in this situation can say to defend himself or herself.  As I mentioned yesterday, occasionally doctors make mistakes, but more often than not when lawsuits are involved and the patients have suffered a bad outcome, the bad outcome is simply one of the known risks of the treatment and is not the result of any wrongdoing on the part of the doctor.  Usually those kinds of cases end up being dismissed in the long run, but in the meantime, the kind of media attention I saw last week can do a lot of damage to a physician's medical practice and reputation--and it's really not fair to the doctor.

At the end of this particular news story last week, the news anchor expressed outrage and disbelief that the doctor's license hadn't yet been suspended or revoked.  I wonder what the news anchor would have thought if he was in a similar situation--if he had been fired from his job based simply on an unproven accusation and prior to any investigation into the complaint?  I bet he'd be upset.  I don't know why he didn't seem to "get" that the physician hadn't been fully investigated yet, nor had he had a hearing to determine whether he'd done anything wrong.

I usually like to look into these kinds of stories a little further.  In this case, there had been an accusation filed with the Medical Board and a hearing is scheduled before the Office of Administrative Hearings.  The rather odd thing, though, is that the accusation filed with the Medical Board wasn't brought by the women interviewed for the news story.  Those two women apparently have civil suits against the doctor, but I don't think those cases have been heard and decided yet either.  And when I looked at Yelp to get an idea of how the doctor's patients felt about the care they received, the doctor had a very high rating with enough different reviewers over a long period of time that there didn't seem to be much question the ratings and comments were legitimate.

Yesterday I mentioned looking up a physician with the state medical licensing board.  Here's what the website's lookup page looks like here in California:

In California, the listings for DO's--doctors of osteopathic medicine--are separate; if I check for a doctor and the name doesn't produce results, I click over to the listing for DO's and try.

Information about a doctor's medical school is also listed on the Medical Board's website.  Here in the U.S., we often believe that doctors who didn't attend medical school in the U.S. must have received a substandard education.  And it is true that sometimes students who can't get into a medical school in the U.S. will be accepted into schools in other countries.  But just the fact that a doctor attended medical school in another country doesn't mean the doctor isn't a good one; do a little research into the medical school to learn whether it's well respected.

One of the claims made by the attorney in the news story I saw is that if her clients had known this doctor's background and initial training was as an OB/GYN, they never would have gone to him for plastic surgery.  I've looked at this doctor's training and credentials, and it seems he's had quite a lot of training as a plastic surgeon, even if he did start off as an OB/GYN.  And his website clearly lists his credentials as an OB/GYN, so it's not hidden by any means.  Really, with the number of resources available to patients through the internet and other sources, there's no reason these women couldn't have done some checking before they underwent the surgical procedures they're now complaining of.  At the very least, as patients undergoing surgery, it's certainly a good idea to ask the surgeon how long he's been performing a specific surgery and how many of these surgeries he's done before.

Most of us wouldn't buy a car . . . or even a vacuum cleaner! . . . without checking the reviews and doing a little research, so why do we think it's okay to put our health and our lives into the hands of someone we know nothing about?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Smart Patient Consumer

The other day, I received a list of three doctors from the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.  I still have some problems with one of my hands, and before my case is completely closed, it was suggested I take part in a QME--a "qualified medical examination."  My task was to pick one of the three doctors on the list and make an appointment.  How would I decide which one to see?  Well, I thought this subject might make a helpful blog post for anyone out there who needs to find a doctor and doesn't know how to weed out the less favorable candidates.

Because of my job working for a law firm that represents doctors, I suppose I have a little more knowledge about doctors and the resources available to me.  The first thing I did was to check each of the doctors with the California Medical Board.

The Board has a website where anyone can put in a physician's name--even if it's just the last name of the doctor--and find out information about them such as their schooling, how long they've been licensed, and whether they have had any significant legal actions against them.  If an accusation has been filed with the Medical Board, that legal document can be viewed also.

What I found when I checked the three doctors was that the first one had been sued in federal court and had a $170,000 judgment against him.  Because it was federal court, that implied to me that it may have been a case involving a prisoner, although there are a couple other possibilities.  But whatever it was, $170,000 is a pretty big judgment.

For doctors, when it comes to settlements and judgments, there are what are referred to as "reporting limits."  A settlement or judgment under $30,000 is not reportable to some of the databanks, and so sometimes a doctor will agree to settle a case under that limit just to have it done and over with, even if he or she didn't believe they had done anything wrong.  Finding out a doctor has had a settlement or judgment in an amount under $30,000 doesn't raise red flags the way a settlement or judgment over that limit would.

When I checked the second doctor, I found out the Medical Board had taken action against him some years prior.  In fact, his license to practice in the State of California and two other states had been suspended for three years, and he had only gotten his license back in June 2011.  It usually takes quite a bit to have a physician's license revoked or suspended.  I was able to access the accusation against him on the website and skim through it--I can't remember now why his license was suspended but I decided he probably wasn't the physician for me.

When I checked the third doctor, I didn't find anything negative about him.  He'd been practicing for around 35 years and his license looked clean.

Just to doublecheck, I went to another website--this one was for the ABMS (the American Board of Medical Specialties).  This website lists physicians in every state in the United States.  Doctors can apply for certification in a particular field of practice and will be required to pass a written examination and, in many cases, an oral examination.  Just because a physician isn't board certified doesn't mean he or she is a bad doctor, but it's just one more assurance we patients have that our doctors are competent and knowledgeable.  (If you want to check to see is a physician is board certified, the site will ask you to register with an email address and password, but you won't receive spam from them and anyone can sign up.)

When I checked all three of the physicians from the list I was provided, I found that all three were board certified--which was reassuring.  Given all the circumstances, I ended up making an appointment with that third doctor.  I should also mention that this third doctor was the one I'd have to travel farthest to see, so if I didn't know what resources were available to me to check on all of the physicians, he'd probably have been my last choice--I would have gone with the doctor whose office was only a couple blocks from my office, and that was the one with the big verdict against him.

Please keep in mind that just because a doctor has a judgment against him or her or had his or her license suspended at some point doesn't, in and of itself, mean the doctor is a bad one.  Doctors, like the rest of us, make mistakes on occasions; the mistakes made by doctors, though, tend to be more serious than the mistakes many of us make in our jobs.  But doctors aren't perfect.  The key is to make sure your doctor doesn't have a long history of mistakes, and in most cases, the information is out there; you just need to know where to look.

All states have medical licensing boards, and many can be accessed through the internet.  The other day I checked a physician's New York license, and I found that state had their records online.  If your state doesn't, though, you can call your state's medical board and find out how to get the information you need.

I have a little more information I wanted to pass on, but this post is long enough for now.  I'll post the rest of my thoughts on this subject in a day or two.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Huh! I Guess It Must Mean NEXT Friday . . .

Well, as it turned out, I wasn't particularly CREATIVE tonight, despite the fortune from last Saturday night's Chinese fortune cookie.  For the past few evenings, all I've been doing is trimming up half-square triangles and putting them up on the design wall.  And then turning each of the pieces around, depending on my whim each evening.

This photo was taken a couple nights ago--Halloween, I think.  This was when I had two "blocks" up on the design wall.  This was when I wanted a red center for each with a white star because I thought it would be more striking.  This was after I'd first put up the pieces and realized I'd have a white center with a red star, and so I turned them all around.

So last night, when I got the pieces up for the third block, I realized that if I "connected" these blocks with red squares (see the open squares between the two blocks?), I'd have a lot more red than I had white, and that wasn't what I wanted.  Or did I?  Maybe I needed to sleep on it.

Yes, less red/more white.  So tonight I turned each of those 144 half square triangles around.  Then I cut more half square triangles so I had a fourth block on the wall and the beginning of a fifth.  Of course, I still have to do the center stars and cut those white squares--which may or may not look like what I want.  But it's a process.

So maybe it IS creative?  But it feels a little too tedious to be creative.

AND I still need to decide what to do with the triangular spaces on each side, top, and bottom--what would be setting triangles if they were just plain pieces filling in where the blocks ended, but I think whatever I use to fill those spaces will be at least partly pieced.  Or maybe appliqued?  Now THAT might be creative.  So maybe I'll get to that part NEXT Friday.  Now that's a thought!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Need to Know . . .

Can I ask you something?  Well, TWO somethings, really.

First, have you seen any good movies lately that you'd recommend?  I'm going out on Saturday night with a couple girl friends while Hubbie plays poker, and I'm wondering what might be worth seeing.  I'd appreciate your recommendations.

Second, Pinterest.  I like Pinterest but I don't spend too much time there, so I wonder if you can point me toward any cool Christmas decorating and/or crafting ideas?  Or gifts to make.  Christmas really isn't THAT far away, so I'm starting to think about it.

Finally, Hubby and I went out for Chinese food last Saturday night.  Check out my fortune:

I haven't participated in the Friday Night Sew In for awhile, so I thought maybe THAT was how I'd be creative, but it's not until November 16th.  Of course, the fortune doesn't say WHICH Friday, right?  Well, we'll have to wait and see what happens.  No pressure, right?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me about movies and Christmas ideas--I appreciate it!