Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016
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!

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. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Well, I have been a total recalcitrant today.  After staying up until 3:00 finishing my quilt top and sandwiching it for quilting, I got up, cleaned the kitchen, gave the laundry room a cursory once over, did a couple of rows on the quilt I am repairing for my daughter, all the while itching to get the new quilt under my needle.  I intended to limit myself to 30 minutes.  Yeah, right.  Oh, the lies I tell myself!   This is the first time I have done a bed quilt on my quilting machine, Lena.  I have done a queen sized quilt, but that was a quilt-as-you go before I acquired Lena.   So, there is a whole new learning curve.  I have done smaller quilts that I could turn in the direction I wanted to quilt.  Well, with a full sized quilt, there is no turning - trust me.  Now I have to learn to quilt in any direction without turning my work.  Longarmers have no choice so they learn to do it right up front.   I pinned my quilt because I am trying to wean myself off of using quilt spray.  I had enough pins to stabilize the center of the quilt, so that is where I started.

The first square looks a bit pathetic.  I immediately whipped it off the machine so I could see what it looked like on the bed.  Of course, that spurred me on to wanting to do another square - then that led to the third square and then I took myself in hand and reluctantly left my quilting room.

I have other chores to do.  The cursory laundry room stint from this morning meant that I moved all of my stray stuff back to the basement from whence it came.  I store a lot downstairs, but I also have to use it up here so I get a lot of stair stepping in in the course of a day.  All of that stuff needs to be put away. 

Now I have to inventory our mixes and ingredients - not nearly as soul-satisfying as quilting, but then once it's done I feel really good (and I reward myself with extra quilting.)

I am on day three of keeping my carbs down.  I have found that keeping something by the sewing machine to work on when the urge to nosh hits is a good distraction.  I have also started switching to water after my morning gunga cup of coffee. (I am sure it holds at least 20 oz)

Now to tackle the inventory

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The weather has been frigid in Michigan this week.  The back roads are solid sheets of ice - bad enough that school was cancelled yesterday.  Last Saturday the roads were just as bad but a friend invited us to sew in her downstairs sewing area and I wasn't about to let a little ice stop me.  I made the first trip there just fine.  Then I noticed I forgot my bobbin and a few other necessities so home I went.  Coming back I passed the driveway.  Did I mention my friend's road was also a solid sheet of ice.  I cautiously continued to the next driveway in an attempt to turn around.  I backed up, put the car in drive and proceeded to slide backward.  This went on for about 10 minutes until I finally backed up far enough and my wheels were straight enough to move forward.  

We had a great day of quilting and conversation.  I very rarely do anything like this so I really enjoyed the day.  

I worked on the quilt I started last week, and Sherry worked on a quilt for her grandson.  The third member of our party left a bit earlier and I didn't get pics of her project.

When I got home I decided that I would add to what I already had and expand it to a bed quilt for the guest bedroom.   I have a couple more borders and then the fun part begins.  The quilting!!!

Today was a Ben day.  He was pretending to be a puppy and shortly after I took this he started licking my face.  

I made soap last night and cut it when I got home.  This is our Country Roads.  I usually use titanium dioxide to keep the lighter parts white, but I decided to leave it out this time.  This smells really nice and is a unisex scent so I left out the glitter.  Apparently, guys do not like glitter.

 I finished up some candles that I had on my work table.  Some of the Christmas ones that I had started but never had time to finish needed to be done.

I made some candles and tarts last Saturday in anticipation of the Syrup Festival in April.  I've been playing with labels.   Just what I needed - another addiction!

While Ben was napping today, I poured over one of my quilt books by Lynette Jensen of Thimblerries. Tonight I plan to finish my current quilt top because on the way home from Ionia, I bought some fabric for my next quilt.  

But hanging is my sewing room is a scrap of fabric for a quilt challenge.  That has to be done by the time of the Shepherd Maple Syrup festival.  And then there are the curtains I need to finish for the twins' room, not to mention the quilt I am repairing for my daughter.   I guess I have enough to keep me out of trouble for a while.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It has been a busy and productive week.  Monday was soap day 

I am testing out a new fragrance.  The soap has darkened since I cut it.  It will eventually turn a dark brown.  

Tuesday I made stockings for an order and started a quilt.  I had intended to start a quilt for our granddaughter, Claire, but I can't find the fabric she picked out.  

I also made Valentine wax melts.  These are scented with a blend of bergomot, honey, and other lovely scents.  It's one of my favorites. 

Wednesday was housework day (but I ditched it to work on the quilt) and I packaged up some potpourri that has been curing for a couple of months.  I use a lot of fragrance oil and it takes quite a while to soak in.

We also went to grandson, Clay's winter concert.  We were quite a way back in the auditorium so the pic isn't great.  He is the one in the middle of the back row.

Today I made Valentine candles (and I worked on the quilt.)  

About 10 this morning, Sam asked if he could drop the twins off for a couple of hours while he worked on the family vehicle. Grandpa found an excuse to come home and get some twin time in.  He is attempting (without any luck) to take a selfie.

Ten minutes later I walked in to find this.  But Grandpa is faking it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Today was a fairly productive day.  I did all of the laundry.  Next goal, get it put away.  I measured soap oil batches and poured out the lye for tonight's soap batch.

While the soap oils were melting, I did some more straightening in the shop.  I am slowly working on getting the house organized.  It always gets worse before it gets better.  While I was in the shop I also mixed some more of a new fragrance blend I am working on.  Because I am a church musician, albeit retired, (not sure one ever retires from that - I already have a wedding scheduled for next summer) I have smelled my share of Sacred Chrism.  I am trying to make a blend that smells like that.  I thought I had it nailed but got a thumbs down from a priest.  However, I think it does smell like Chrism so I am leaving it as it is.  I am calling it Anointing.  It is a wonderful scent.  I decided to try it in a batch of soap tonight.  The oils I used for the blend are supposed to hold up well in cold process soap, but I don't know.  I'm not smelling a strong scent in the mold.  Hopefully, tomorrow will tell a better tale.

Earlier in the evening I went up to Mt. P. with Anna.  We haven't done that in a while and it would have been great if the roads had been better, and if I hadn't broken my toe Saturday night.  I've been limping around like Grandpa McCoy for the last few days.  I did tape it, and that helps but it still isn't fun going up and down the stairs.  Since that is where the shop is, it's been a challenge.  While we were up town, I dropped off two boxes to GoodWill.   I have made some progress.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Clay stayed over last night.  That was a good thing because it took my mind off things that are bothering me right now.  However, I didn't sleep well at all and felt tired all day.

I puttered a bunch today and late in the afternoon went down to start in on the basement.  It's hard to make myself work - even enjoyable work - when thing are chaotic.  I can't control all the chaos in my life, but I can control the chaos of things!  I filled a trash bag, a donate box, and a recycle box.  It hardly made a dent, but it's good therapy.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Over the last couple of months I have done a lot of stress and emotional eating.  This has been a problem for me ever since I can remember.  I have fallen into the habit of vegging out in front of the TV after a long day.  Of course that involves chowing down on any unhealthy thing I can get my hands on.  Last night I decided to break that habit - and turning to food in times of stress or sadness is a habit.  What makes it difficult is that it ties food in with emotions.  

So I decided to take a baby step in the direction of breaking this lifelong habit of eating when I'm feeling bad.   I remember seeing a picture like the one below.  That is a lot of muscle involvement, particularly in the core.  The older I get, the more I see the importance of strengthening the core.  Soooooo, I got down on the floor and did 2 ten second planks.  It felt amazing.  So my new "habit" will be to do planks every other night.  The other new thing is that I am leaving my mini trampoline out.  No food at night.  None.  It is far too easy to down tons of calories in a very short time. My goal is to reach 10,000 steps.  That's it.  That's what I am going to concentrate on for the next week or so.  

                                        Image result for why do planks

Today I attended the funeral of an 18 month old who died of cancer.  The funeral was at St. Mary. I am guessing that anyone who has ever lost a child cried not only for Nolan, but for their own loss.  It was difficult for me on two levels - the first because I could feel the grief of the family.  And the second because for years my gift to grieving families was to play at funerals.  I tried to put that grief aside because today wasn't about me.  It was about two young parents who had to bury their child far too soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I just heard that the government is cracking down on the amount of sugar we should be consuming and easing up on coffee and salt.  Actually, the government is the last place I'd go for diet advice, but glad to hear they are catching up.  After all, I am pretty sure that coffee is a food group.

Yesterday I went to lunch with two friends.  It was a pleasant time!  Afterwards I stopped in at the office at St. Mary and chatted with a couple of former co-workers.  The ache is starting to heal a bit.  I stopped in because I am working on a scent blend that smells like Chrism and I wanted an opinion on how close I am.  Todd will be ordained to the permanent deaconate in 2017 and a former Shepherd student will be ordained to the priesthood.  Diane and Todd both liked the scent, but I want to tweak it a bit more.  I decided to go to the staff party on Sunday.  I am ready to heal.   I have also decided to remain in the Diocesan choir.  

Wednesday nights are Word and Communion services at St. Patrick.  I have decided to attend those.  I like the people and the fellowship.  Clay and Claire went with Harold and I.

Last night I bottled the rest of the Peppermint foaming soap and today I made a batch of Country Apple.  

I have been having a ball designing labels.  I have started purchasing from a company online that has templates for the labels.  It is much easier to keep organized and to experiment with new designs.  They may be a bit more expensive, but the time I save trying to use PSE is worth something.

I just finished the stocking order that came in a few days ago.  They need to be sewn and made ready to ship.  I also forced myself to go up into the attic and organize and sort my inventory.  

I ordered a graphic for a grungy jar candle that I want to make available at the Shepherd Maple Syrup festival - but before I do that I gave myself one major project for the day.   I have to sort and put away the laundry.  Tomorrow the Christmas stuff gets put away.  I leave the winter decor out until Lent so basically the tree and the Santa stuff has to go.  The porch lights stay.  

Today I am getting my diet under control.  With the stress at the church over the last few months, I did a lot of stress eating and gained about 20 pounds.  Need to get on the stick with that.