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!

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 -  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. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Below are a few of the things I've done since the last post.  

Apple Jack Tarts

Apple Jack Room Spray

Cinnamon Sticks scented potpourri

Packaged up some blueberry soap

Potpourri scented with Maple Syrup Festival

Potpourri scented with Old Red Barn

Tart melts scented with Old Red Barn

Finished Claire's quilt top and began quilting it.

Made a batch of Apple Jack soap.

This one is actually food - it is Maple Walnut Fudge.  The father of a friend loves Maple Nut Fudge.  His is such a sweetheart and has been having many health issues lately.  I will be meeting Karen tomorrow and I have two big chunks for her to give to him.  

I am still working on area 1 of the laundry room.  I've made a dent, but that's about it.  I get distracted by the other cool stuff I'd rather be doing.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I absolutely love primitive country stores.  The first one I ever remember going to was in Mt. Pleasant many many years ago.  It was called the Dondero House.  I have searched online for a picture of it, but can't find a thing.  What struck me about my first visit was the scent of the place.  A mixture of spices, of old things and new things.  I have always collected candles to remind me of places I visit.  Nothing brings back the past like our sense of smell.  Yesterday I decided I wanted to recreate that lovely aroma so I blended some scents.  The base was Apple Jack and Peel, but I wanted a little more tartness to the mix so I added cloves, cinnamon, and some others.   Not exactly it, but close - very close.

I found the panel that Claire had chosen for her quilt and began working on that.  The pinwheel that I posted in my last blog post is going to be part of a border on the sides of the quilt.  The panel that she chose is quite a bit longer than it is wide so the top and bottom borders will just be sawtooth borders.  I spent the day making pinwheels.  I think I may be obsessed with them.

I did some more work on the bed quilt I am making for the guestroom.  It is quite a challenge to maneuver a large quilt on my quilt machine, but I am learning a lot by making this quilt.  I also broke down and actually marked the quilt with frixion pens.  The lines from these pens disappear when steam is applied.  This made everything so much easier!

When I was still working at the school, I dreamed of saving for a longarm machine.  I tried one at a quilt show and while I realize there is a learning curve, I really like my Lena and will most likely stay with her. 

Today I divided up my laundry room into areas or zones.  I challenged myself to clear out area one.  I had planned to do it all today, but soon realized that if I was going to put in the time, I may as well do it right.  So out came the vacuum, the duster, and a pail of hot soapy water.  Below is the "before" picture.  Don't judge.  :)  I will post the "after" reveal when I finish it.

Harold and I went out to dinner tonight.  I had a chicken caesar salad and stayed within my carb and calorie count.  Sundays I get to ease up a bit which made staying on track easier tonight.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I was a little better behaved yesterday regarding things I "want" to do and things I "have" to do.  The workout room is looking much better.  I still have a ways to go, but I am gaining ground.  I have made a dent in several rooms, but today I am focusing on the piano room and living room.  It's like losing weight - you don't see a difference for a while, but then all of a sudden - bam!

Yesterday I made a batch of Amish Friendship Bread Tarts.  If you look at the picture, you will see 3 little girls looking out the window.  These Amish young men were building a lean-to on our tool shed.  The girls were fascinated by both the men and their horse and buggy. I happened to snap this on the fly and it is my favorite picture ever.

I wasn't too sure about this scent at first, but I am finding that I love it more each time I work with it.   Of course, the most fun was making the label.  For some reason I find packaging my favorite part of the whole creative process.

I also made a batch of matching candles.

I had planned to make fudge yesterday but discovered I am out of butter.  I was quite surprised because I buy a LOT of butter.  The dairy farmers should have my picture in their milk houses.  

Soooo, since I couldn't make fudge, that freed up some time for quilting.  For the very first time ever I made an "Eleanor Burns" quality pinwheel - every point perfect! (When Claire and I watch Eleanor Burns, we eat a piece of chocolate every time she says "perfect.") I am a very slow piecer and for many years I forced myself to work faster.  I have a niece who can churn out beautiful quilts in record time.  I discovered that in quilting, as in life, one must be true to oneself.  I need to work slowly and methodically, concentrate on what is right in front of me under the needle.  I had to ask myself why I quilt.  I quilt because I love the process.  I got more satisfaction out of that one perfect block that took me almost an hour than if I had made 6 in the same amount of time and had to rip out stitches - which is what happens when I try to do things faster than my abilities allow.  If you think about it, there are many life lessons to be learned from quilting.  Patience, perseverance, focus, planning, organization.  These are all things that quilting helps me work toward.