Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015
God Bless Our Troops

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.
We love what we do!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mondays are laundry, bill paying, checkbook reconciling, expense tracking, reimbursement, and soapmaking days.  I normally do my cold process soap in the evening when I know that there won't be any distractions.  Distraction and lye water do not mix very well.

The last few Mondays Kelli and I had to scramble to get mixes replenished.  We still have some to do, but I am happy to get back to my regular Monday routine.  

This week I have been making foaming soaps.  I LOVE foaming soaps.  A couple of my daughters do not care for bar soap so I have been looking for a liquid soap to offer as an alternative.  I have also been making Goat Milk liquid hand soap.  Our house definitely smells better than it looks.  

Mondays I also make sure I have a supply of stockings to take down to Nina.




















I also finished the retirement quilt for Deacon Mike.












Friday, May 13, 2016

Well, Friday is my designated cleaning day - and here I am on the computer.  Hmmmm.  It's all good - my day starts at 10:00.

Alas, I had to say goodbye to my number one container wax supplier.  When the wax is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad it leaves terrible sink holes that need a heat gun application.  That gets old very fast.  This is the second batch I have had that has not been great.  Soooooo, I found a new supplier.  This new wax is a bit gooey - like very thick vaseline - and is not fun to measure out, but it makes beautiful candles.



It has been quite a challenge to keep on top of inventory, but I think once I get used to it and do it regularly, it will get a lot easier.  

Here is a bit of what I have been working on lately










Yesterday was "work in the shop" day because I had a funeral to play for on Wednesday.  It was a muggy warm day and there was absolutely no street traffic down town.   It gave me a chance to spruce up the room a bit and take inventory.  I really need to make more of the small jar candles.  Here is a video of what our shop looks like.

video

The noise you hear is the creaky floor.  LOL!

Time to get back to work.  I am making slow progress in each room, but now I am able to actually see that I am making headway.  It's all about focus!  My goal for the day is the kitchen, laundry room, and living room.  

But I did take a little break to make a spring flicker lamp. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wow!  My last post was February!  I didn't realize how long it had been until Nina asked me if I had posted recently.  I took a look at my last post and a few of the pictures have disappeared.  Arghhh!!  Since February I have finished quite a few quilts.






Maddie's quilt pic disappeared from my last post so here is her quilt.


 I also finished Meghan's Quilt



Here is my quilt for the challenge at the Maple Syrup Festival.  (I took first!)


And here is Ben with his quilt.  He was emphatic that the quilt had to have combines on it.


About a month ago, a friend approached me with a business proposition.  She and her business partner purchased a building in downtown Alma.  It was a former office building and they are renting out rooms to businesses to set up boutiques.
  

I was a bit nervous about committing to a monthly rent, but so far things are working out very well. This is so opportune because Anna is getting married in January and wants to back off from the business.  I have taken over her end of the operations and Kelli has been brought in to help make mixes.  Melisa will join us if time permits when school is out for the summer.  It has been a challenge to keep on top of inventory, labeling, stocking, etc, but once the learning curve is over, things should run more smoothly.  Where we used to concentrate on fall and spring, I am now trying to figure out product for the year round.  We will be cutting back on our craft shows, concentrating on the two shows in Shepherd.  I will do a couple of smaller ones with Kelli and Nicola. 

I have been subbing at St. Vincent de Paul in Shepherd.  They have a fantastic keyboard guy, but he needs a break every now and then, plus he teaches during the school year so I have been covering funerals.  It is just enough to keep my hand in and I am loving it.  Most Sundays will find me juggling a twin on my knee.  Life couldn't be better.  

I have been listening to some podcasts on organizing and those have really helped me focus.  I have better structure to my work week and I have limited myself to quilting on Sundays only (for the time being).  I am currently working on a retirement quilt for the administrator at St. Vincent who will be retiring in June.  


I am doing some repair work on one of Nina's quilts and then I will be only working on a quilt for Anna and Michael.  It is a double wedding ring quilt and I am doing the Eleanor Burns applique version.  


Today was a frantic product making day.  I usually work at the store on Wednesdays, but today I had a funeral which means I work tomorrow which is my usual product making day.  We did a batch of Potato Soup and 2 batches of brownie mix.  Yesterday and today I made 4 batches of jar candles, 1 batch of tart melts, and still have room spray to do plus the labeling of the mixes we made today.  All of this is to re-stock the shop - which is a good thing. 



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Happy Ash Wednesday everyone,

I have totally fallen out of my routines the last couple days.

Yesterday was supposed to be a Ben day, but Harold called from Lansing to tell me there was a huge storm coming.  Chicken that I am, I switched Ben's day to Thursday.  No storm, no nothing.  Soooooo, since Harold was gone, I spent the day in my quilting room.  I worked on the guest room quilt for a while with no problems. It is coming along nicely and I am getting quite proficient at maneuvering it around the quilting table.





 Then I switched projects, broke a needle, changed the needle, and then the bobbin thread kept breaking on me. Removed the HUGE, HEAVY, quilting machine from the table.  Trust me, this is no small feat, looked around for my cleaning brush and started brushing lint out of the bobbin case holder.  Don't know if that was the problem, but it seems to be running okay again.  Note to self, dedicate a small plastic container for screw driver, oil, and cleaning brushes.  I swear, I waste more time looking for things when having a place for everything makes life so much easier.  (Yes, I am slowly finding homes for things.)


I pulled out a couple of UFO's and started quilting those, cleaned a couple of shelves next to my cutting station, cleared the area next to Lena so I could close the closet door - big difference.


I also started Meghan's Frozen Quilt.   I am so stinkin' proud of my perfect pinwheels.  But take a close look at the picture.  See anything wonky?  I will use those two for the other border.




Monday was my usual soapmaking day.  I have been eager to try a new fragrance.  It's titled Mardi Gras, but the scent reminds me of times spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Caputo's house.  In my memories it is always late winter or early spring - usually Lent.  My grandparents had a set of statues that Grandpa brought from Italy.  There were originally three of them, but one was broken so Grandma told my Aunt Molly to take them home with her.  Last summer she and my Uncle Tom gave them to me because they knew I had always loved them.  Uncle Tom insisted that we take them home with us after our last visit.  A month later my Uncle Tom died.  I am calling the soap Tarantella




I love how the soap turned out.  It is swirled with lilac, green, and gold





On Monday's I also package soap that has been curing for a month.  It is another new one I call Anointing.   To me it smells just like the Sacred Chrism used in baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations.





Yesterday I received an order for a full batch and a half batch of soap.  I was so excited.  Then I realized that I had listed the wrong price on the website.  Basically, it is going out the door for the cost of the materials.  However, it is a cousin who ordered it, so that's some consolation.  You can bet I fixed it on the website.  LOL   Ya lives and ya learns.


I have been teaching Claire, Maddie, and Meghan to quilt.  When I started they were 4, 5, and 8.  We began each session with a discussion about keeping fingers away from the needle.  They have each made a small quilt.  However, my sewing room is not very big (nor very organized) and it gets crowded trying to have them all in there.  I have been looking for a small, lightweight, sewing machine that they can use at the kitchen table.  I found this at JoAnn.  It weighs about 5 pounds, is speed controlled so they can more easily sew a 1/4 inch seam, but I need to mark the bed for a quarter inch.  It  doesn't have a light, though, but I have several small Ott lights that can do the job.  The machines come in some really cute colors. I only ordered one, but if it works out, I will probably get one for each girl.  They are already fighting over who gets what color. 






Sunday, February 7, 2016

Last night was a girls night.  Claire, Maddie, and Meghan stayed over.  I finished Claire's quilt so I was able to give it to her.  I think I can safely say that she liked it.  



The girls played "daycare" for a while.





 








Sam and Kelli were having a movie night so we had the twins as well. After Mom and Dad picked up the twins It was popcorn and M&Ms time. .  It is tradition to have popcorn and M&M's.

      

The girls like to ham it up a bit.  

Today I finished Maddie's quilt.  I can't wait to give it to her.  She was sick today.  The plan had been to take the girls out for lunch, but Maddie just wanted to go home.  Poor little kid.
  
         

 

 I am getting better on my mid-arm, but I still have a ways to go.  I am totally loving it, though!!

Oh, and I lost .8 pounds this week.

Thursday, February 4, 2015

This started out as one of those days where it doesn't pay to get out of bed.  So I get up this morning - I can still barely walk.  Went into the kitchen and was greeted by the sight of congealed, greasy, fatty chicken broth all over the counter and floor.  Ugh  Moved the heavy roaster (which didn't help my back) and cleaned up that mess.  Then I noticed that the coffee pot had shut off so the coffee was lukewarm.  Poured a cup and heated it for 30 seconds in the microwave where it over heated and spilled all over the oven. The handle was too hot to hold.  Ouch!  Cleaned up that mess, made another cup and headed for the laundry room with the load of stuff I had used to clean up the congealed, fatty, greasy chicken broth.  And then I remembered I couldn't use the washer because it was leaking.  I have a heavy shelf balanced on the washer and dryer.  I thought I knew where the leak was coming from so I moved the shelf.  What was that definition of insanity?  So I assaulted my poor spasmy back again.

The good new is, the chicken now fits in the roaster,




 and the guys are at a meeting for dinner.  Whoohoo, quilt room here I come!

I never made it to the quilt room.  In my quest to maintain order I decided to deal with the chicken.



I learned this little trick on facebook.  I shredded enough chicken to make 5 batches of cranberry pecan chicken salad, 2 batches of chicken pot pie, and one batch of chicken noodle soup.

*********************************************
It's evening now.  My back is a little better.  Nina and Ben came up this afternoon and are staying over.  Ben came into my sewing room tonight and was fascinated by my sewing machine.

I didn't get any work done downstairs today because of my back.  I did get a stocking and a half done and a lot of quilting.  I started piecing a rail fence/pinwheel quilt that I saw Jenny Doan demonstrating.   I think this may be the pattern I will use for my MSF quilt in April.  It's made with a strip set and a couple of yards of other fabrics for the pinwheels. 




I went shopping online today for a small machine that the girls can use at the kitchen table.  I eventually want to get one for each of them.  They are so cute and come in some really fun colors.  I can use this one for when I go to quilt retreats.  Much less weight to lug around.
I have dinner in the crockpot for tomorrow.  Chicken noodle soup broth with carrots, onions, celery, and the leftover broth that didn't end up on the kitchen counter and floor this morning.  I just have to add the chicken in the morning and the noodles a little before dinner time.  

So even though the day had a rough start, it got better.  Had some fun time with Ben and Nina and some quilting time.  
Life is good.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I mentioned a new blog I had found the other day -  http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/.  I have started reading from the beginning.  So many things this lady writes about hit home with me.  I have struggled all my life with disorganization and messiness - that horrible feeling when people drop by unannounced, the disapproving looks from people people you secretly admire for their efficiency.  All of it.  My earliest memories of clutter induced chaos are the weekly piano lessons I took as a child.  Every single week was a panicked last minute search for my piano books which I hadn't touched since my last lesson.  Today I still routinely have to search for my phone before leaving the house.  Organization is not my gift but it is a virtue I strive for.  So, in the spirit of Dana White, I am combining a couple of my blogs and putting it all out here.  She starts off her daily blog with a checklist of things she has accomplished.  Seeing that list must make her feel proud.  Cleanies don't get that - it's like "duh," but those of us that struggle often have self-esteem issues and those daily props can really make a difference.  So is my list for this morning:

Emptied dishwasher
Cleaned off washer and dryer (the dryer is a particular hot spot)
Put all of the things destined for my basement workroom into a tote to take down when I go to work.
Did 4 months of taxes for our business (sales tax is due in February)

Later, I hauled all of the stuff to the basement,
Made a batch of candles

Made a batch of wax melts  Actually, I made two - they were scented with cinnamon sticks. 

 However, when I went to pour the first batch I was not happy to see purple wax filling the clamshells.  Ugh
Packaged up the tarts and candles
Made stockings - yeah, in February - that's how far ahead we have to do it.  :)
Went back downstairs to do something and all of a sudden I started having awful spasms in my back.  The last time that happened was in Alaska, but I knew what had caused it.  I have no idea why my back went out.

Hobbled upstairs and decided since I couldn't attend my meeting, I would spend the evening finishing Claire's quilt.   I can't wait to give it to her. Finished the binding, washed the quilt (now the washer is leaking), and set up my quilting machine for tomorrow.



Put a chicken in the roaster to slow cook all night.  We raise huge chickens and this one didn't quite fit, but I put foil over the top and now I am heading off to bed.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy First of February! 
I am celebrating 2 pounds lost this week.  I can't remember if I talked about what I am doing regarding diet.  Basically, Monday-Saturday I stay below 50 carbs.  For me that results in ketosis.  Ketosis is the state in which the body is burning fat rather than glucose for fuel. This is the only thing that works for me in that it keeps my appetite in check.  It keeps the sugar cravings at bay and regulates my blood sugar.  On Sunday I can have whatever I want - not a pig out, but just a "normal people" day.  This has worked out well for me, for the last two weeks anyway.  Yesterday we attended a birthday party.  Pizza, cake, ice cream.  Tonight I am back in ketosis.  I'm not sure I quite believe it, but my ketonix swears that I am there.  Ketonix is a device that measures the ketone level in breath.  Green means small amount, yellow means medium, and red is high.  Earlier it registered red but I was sure that couldn't be.  I indulged quite a bit yesterday.  Not overboard, but definitely not lowcarb.


Last week while listening to a podcast called Organize365, I heard about another organizing podcast.  This one is called "A Slob Comes Clean."  One of my goals for the year has been to get this house in some kind of order.  For the last 2 weeks my sink has been shiny every night before I go to bed.  It makes me smile to walk into it in the morning for my coffee and see everything in order.  I love clean house, I just find it a challenge to get it that way.   So, dishes done by bedtime was my first babystep goal.  My second goal was to have the laundry done and put away by bed time on Monday night.  I've done that the last two Mondays.  I love both of the podcasts, but the "Slob" one just sounds like a kindred spirit.  People who are naturally neat and organized just don't understand the struggle for those of us that aren't.  I have taken a lot of heat over the years because of it.  Some deserved, some just mean.  Oh well.  I have learned to forgive myself for not being perfect.  (I haven't forgotten about Area 1 in the laundry room.  Still working on that, but taxes are looming.)

This morning I did the Monday chore of bill paying and bank book reconciling.  Harold and I are both paper challenged.  I have instituted a new system because I was totally messed up on the bill paying.  Some didn't get paid, and some got paid twice.  Harold is not on board yet, but he will be  - I say this with more optimism than I actually feel
.   
I did some more incremental straightening in the basement workroom and made a batch of candles while I was down there.   I am growing to LOVE this scent.



I also made a week's worth of lowcarb burrito casserole.  After lunch dishes, I headed for my quilt room.  I gave myself a break from stocking making in January, but I am now back at it.  So I am on that schedule again.  Got my stocking quota done for the day and then decided to layer the quilt I finished piecing last night.  This is the Frozen quilt that Maddie was asking about.    I am still on a learning curve with my quilting machine, but I pick up more confidence each time I use it.  I initially quilted the faces on the quilt, but then decided I didn't like the way it looked so I picked out all of the "face" stitches. No, Ana does not have a wart on her chin. I have a pin marking the spot where I need to secure the stitching I removed.



I also did a bit more work on the rug I've been making.  It's good for my hands which are feeling the pains of arthritis.


Now I am heading off to bed because tomorrow is a Ben day.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I had intended to get a lot of quilting done today, but that didn't happen.  Clay came over this morning and helped me do some decluttering.  We emptied the pantry cupboard and sorted the food.  I still have some work to do in there.  He also helped me move things that belong in the basement down to the basement.  And while we were down there we brought up all the empty shipping boxes from all of the supplies I've ordered this month.

We filled quite a few donate boxes which I took up to Good Will.  Of course, since I was in Mt. Pleasant, I had to get my JoAnn fix. I did pretty well talking myself out of bringing more stuff home.  I did buy some batting that was on sale and a quilting magazine - only one - it promises to help me with my "quilting math."   While I was there, I happened to glance at the clock.  it was 4:45.  A month ago I would have been at church playing 4:30 Mass.  

Yesterday I did some more work on Claire's quilt.  I have a few tiny puckers in the back, but I am leaving them alone.  I managed to include an Amish humility patch in the bottom left corner.  Sheesh.  Never noticed it until I came upon it while quilting.



My quilting rule is that once I have a quilt under my quilting needle, I can start piecing another one.  Madison mentioned her Elsa quilt fabric the other day and she is next in line for a quilt.  I laugh when I look at this panel.  I had ordered 2 of them - one for Maddie and one for Meghan.  Meghan found them when she was poking around my sewing room.  I quickly took them and hid them again hoping she would forget about them.  The next week when she and Maddie were over, I heard her whispher, "Maddie, I saw Elsa and Anna fabric in Grandma's quilt room."  So, with Claire's quilt under the needle, I started Maddie's quilt last night.


I'm not using a pattern - just making it up as I go along.  I made a second saw tooth border and put it on upside down.  Genius.  Fortunately I noticed it before I went any further. I have a neat trick for sandwiching quilts.  I ordered some cardboard pallet covers and I lay one on the bed and layer my quilts that way.  I can move the cardboard anywhere I want without disturbing the quilt.  

A few days ago a friend from my former church asked if Moeggenborg Sugar Bush would donate a basket to the Mardi Gras fundraiser.  We have been doing it for years.  I decided to come up with some Mardi Gras themed products.

Room Spray


And a grungy jar candle


I also plan to do some breakaway wax melts. 

Never did get to my quilting room today, but that's okay.  Given yesterday's mishaps, I probably needed a break.