Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Murder Most Fowl

Okay, I couldn't resist the joke in the title, but I'm pretty bummed about what we found when we got home yesterday afternoon from our trip to Michigan. One of our chickens was missing. We went next door to ask the neighbor who had been taking care of everything if he knew what happened. He hadn't noticed that it was missing, but he had noticed a dog hanging around. Then he came over later to let us know that he'd found parts of it in their yard.

I don't know whose dog it was, because they don't have one, but I guess it doesn't really matter, since these things happen. It's just sad that now we only have five hens instead of half a dozen. I suppose it would feel worse if I'd been able to tell them apart in the first place. We figure it was the one that Ben calls Big Mama though, because she used to try to guard against and fight whatever would come around, so she probably flew out of the top of the yard trying to scare the dog off and then got chased and caught once she was out. Poor Big Mama was brave, anyway.

So, I'm wishing I'd finished the tarp for the top of the yard sooner, since that might have avoided the whole "dead chicken" thing, but that's on my short list of projects now that all the Christmas crafting has died down.

I hope everyone enjoyed my scheduled posts while I was gone. I'd finished so many different kinds of projects the week before we left that I wanted to make sure they all got their own post! And since we were going to be gone, what better way to do that than kill two birds with one stone and keep my blog from looking neglected while I was gone. Now that I'm back, I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have had about all those posts.

I have lots of new things to talk about too, like crafting with my in laws and my new hand crank grain grinder, so the coming week should be busy and interesting as well.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Gardening Apron from (modern) Feed Sacks

As part of a gardening/birdfeeding gift basket for my Boston Brother and Sister in Law, I made a gardening apron for her out of the bags that our chicken feed comes in. These are the bags that are made from a woven plastic type material that are designed not to break or rip, and I've been saving them to sew together into a tarp to go over the coop in the summer for shade. I decided to sacrifice one of the cuter ones for this apron for my sister in law.



Here's part of the gift basket... there's also a grow kit and some suet cake bird feeder thingers.



And here's the apron on it's own. It's made completely from recycled or leftover materials. The canvas lining and bias binding are scraps from other projects, or old stuff from other people's stashes.

A quick tutorial:
Cut a 16x16 (this is the size of this one, which is too long and not wide enough for me, but my SIL is much tall and narrower than I am), 14X16, and 10X16 rectangles from the empty feed bag (it's best if you spray it off or wipe it down with a damp cloth first, that stuff is dusty!), placing the graphics where you would like them. Bind the tops of the two smaller rectangles with bias binding. I use my bias binder foot, and it's the awesomest. Put all the rectangles wrong stides to right sides, so the smaller ones will form pockets for the apron. I used binder clips to hold them all in place. Mark rounded bottom corners with the help of a plate or can, trim these and then bind all three layers together, from one upper corner to the other upper corner. To make the tie, I used three yards of binding, sewing it closed and centering the apron in there to bind the top of it. If you'd like to line it, just cut a 16X16 square of the lining fabric, put it wrong sides together with the large plastic square and treat them as one layer. I lined this one, but I think unless you want to do that for cuteness, it's not really necessary.

There's lots of things that can be done with these bags. I know that there's a person at the farmers' market who sells tote bags from them, and I'd bet they'd make cute reusable lunch bags and wallets or coin purses. Lots of pet food and bird seed come in them too. Send me pics if you try any fun stuff with yours!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Making Bird Feeding Ornaments

As part of some of our gifts, Ben and I wanted to include some suet cakes in cute shapes. We decided to make them ourselves, since the ones in the store can cost so much!

We got the suet at the meat dept of our grocery store. That stuff is greasy and gross, which makes sense since it's beef fat. We chopped this up small and melted it slowly in a big pot. This is what it looks like while rendering.

I don't know if we didn't chop it fine enough, but there were lots of "cracklin's" left in the melted fat. We just fished these out and mixed the liquid fat with bird seed, sunflower seeds, and cornmeal. We just went for a slurry type of consistency.

After letting it cool in the bowl for a bit to allow the very liquidy fat to solidify slightly we spooned it into cookies cutters on a foil lined sheet pan. Waiting for it to cool some kept the fat from just running right out from under the cookie cutters all over the foil. We used a nail to make hanging holes while they were still squishy by just moving the seed out of the way.

We also made a wreath shape in the bundt pan with an entire batch of it. I filled the pan perhaps a quarter of the way to get a wreath this size.

After a night on the porch, they were hard and ready to package. I strung twine through the holes and put them into treat bags, with the label "A treat for your birds." Just to avoid anyone thinking they were people food!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Finished Mystery Science Theater 3000 Quilt!

As of this picture, the binding hadn't been completely sewed down, but I should have finished it in plenty of time to give it, lol. And I'll post lots of better pics when I get back to the computer.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

That Santa!


This year Santa even remembered our chickens! He brought each hen a stocking (a chicken bootie?) of birdseed as a treat, and hung them by the fireplace in a very chicken themed way.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Making Your Own Embroidery Design

Here's a little demo on how I make my own embroidery designs using the pair of tea towels I made for my sister in law's gift basket.

When I'm making designs for friends and family that are not for profit, I usually start with a google image search of what I'm looking for. As long as I'm not making a profit or claiming a design as my own, I feel this is a moral use of copyrighted material. I usually end up with a photo that'll give me the general shape I want, and I go from there. I searched "monogram J" to find this image, which was a photo of one of those flags that you can hang in your garden or front yard.

I used some tracing software to make a clear line drawing of the image, but you could easily use tracing paper or just draw something freehand.

I then taped the paper to a window and traced the back side of the design with my iron on pencil. This gives me the reverse image for the iron on imprint. I go over it twice with fairly firm pressure to make sure there's enough transfer-y stuff on the paper.

I ironed this in place on my fabric, and then embroidered the design with my choice of colors and stiches. The picture isn't great, but the design was plenty dark enough for me to see and embroider it.
And here is the finished pair of towels.
I've gotten as many as five imprints from one transfer, and could probably get more, I just never tried. All in all, I love my transfer pencil, it's so cool. You can order them on amazon and on Joann's website. Here's an article I wrote that'll give you more details on making your own embroidery designs.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Guess What?


Chicken Butt!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Over the Woods

We're on our way to Michigan today, but I've set up auto posts for every day while I'm away, so you'll still get lots of BeppyCat fun. There will be tutorials and pictures, and lots of info about all the presents I've been so busy making!

I'll be able to check comments, but won't always be able to respond till I'm back home. I'll get all caught up then!

Hope you enjoy!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Some Chicken Pictures

The Christmas present projects continue. Yesterday I finished embroidering some tea towels and laid out the MST3K quilt and started pinning the layers together so I can tie it. I think I'm going to run out of safety pins before I even get halfway, so I'll try basting it as well. After it's tied, I can do the binding this evening or tomorrow. I've also got a few presents to finish up for Ben and one that I'm going to try to get done start to finish, if I can find the time.

I have a hair appt. this morning, and have to visit and deliver things to the neighbors, so I'm not sure how much crafting I'll get done. I might have to start staying up later to finish it all!

The freshest eggs you can get!

They're loving the big chunks of straw i put in the yard for them. They had it all scratched out and spread in an hour or two. I guess it's more fun to eat sunflower seeds if first you have to dig through a bunch of straw to get them.











Here is the new chicken fortification. They seem to be appreciate the extra shelter all the straw bales are providing. They've already lost that droopy emo chicken look.


Do you notice a particular bad cat in the bathroom window? That window is higher than my head inside, and has the tiniest sill. But I guess it's worth the acrobatics it takes in order to get to look at the chickens.


It cracks me up the way they all look over the bales when they hear me coming.


This is the new water heater setup. Under the canning pot, I've put a work light clamped to a piece of wood. The wood holds it up off the ground, and it's plugged into a plug that knows what the temperature is, and only turns the light on when it's colder than 35 degrees. I'd like to replace the wood with a mason block for extra safety and then pin the pot down to the ground with pegs around the handles as a further precaution. I also think that I can change the bulb to a 50 watt one, because the 100 watt one that Ben bought keeps the very warm, and I'm really going for just, not frozen.
BTW, this isn't my good canning pot, it's the one I use to dye things in. And, does anyone else think it's hilarious that I've "decorated" the chicken yard with a pot big enough to cook a couple in? Maybe it's just me.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Patches on the Embroidery Machine

Recently, a friend my Father in Law works with gave him a jacket with their company logo on the back, but it had the friend's name stitched on the front. So instead of changing his name, my Mother in Law asked if I could make a patch with Howard's name on it, so she could sew it over the other name stitching. It's impossible to seam rip those machine embroidered things, so that was pretty much the only solution. Anyway, I took pictures, to show the process.
First I hooped a number of layers of water soluble stabilizer and stitched the running stitch outline of an applique. If you use heavy duty water soluble, you really only need one or two layers.

Then I laid a couple layers of plain white cotton on that and stitch the same outlines over again. This is pretty thin cotton, it was scraps from another project, but that's why I used more than one layer. Canvas would only need one layer.

After the outline stiches, I trimmed the fabric very close to the stitching all around. This way, the outer satin stitching can cover and finish the raw edge of the fabric, and the stabilzer gives the outer edges of the stitching something to hook into.


After that, I stitched the rest of the design, which consisted of a narrow zig zag satin stitch all around with two layers of a wider satin stitch, and then the name in the center. After that, I trimmed all the threads, punched them out of the stabilizer, soaked them in water to melt the stabilizer, and pressed them.


These can sometimes turn out a bit skewed because of all the layers of stiching around the outside, but can be pushed into shape when they're pressed. And I'm not to proud to admit that when I make a project like this, I will use an appropriatly colored sharpie to disguise the "whiskers" that can sometimes be leftover on the edges from trimming the fabric. It works pretty well.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby Layette and the Chicken Yard

This is the finished baby layette for Ben's brother's new baby. My sister in law, Missy, is pregnant right now, so I don't know if we'll have a new nephew or a new niece. I have a long standing tradition with my nephews and niece that I've always given them Christmas presents even before they were born, so I wanted to have something for "New Baby James" at the Christmas party.

Now I'll tell you a secret about my make-do attitude. When I started this set, it was going to be completely solid white, but I ran out of yarn. I knew there wasn't enough to finish, but I was using Caron Simply Soft (great for baby items, btw. It's so so so soft and it stays pretty nice looking and it's machine washable and dryable.) and that's a no dye lot yarn, so I figured that I could buy more when the time came. But Michaels carries only the dye lot white, and Wal-mart only had Soft White (made from recycle bottles and other plastic waste... it's called Simply Soft Eco, which I thought was really cool... it's sad how not yarn shopping has really put me out of the loop.) Anyway, since I couldn't match the white, I had to finish the blanket in yellow from my stash. I did four rows on each end of the blanket so it would be large enough and look like I'd planned it to be two colors, and then I added the yellow trims to the rest of the set so they'd match.

I really should have thought to do it like that in the first place instead of running to two different stores looking for the white yarn. I always say that consumerism isn't an answer and people should try more to use what they have instead of buy. So I'm glad that I couldn't find the right yarn to buy, since it challenged and stretched my creativity a tiny bit more.

So, I've been working on Christmas projects this week, and I'm trying to turn out the finished projects at a fast clip, so I'll be ready to go to Michigan without having to worry about trying to finish gifts while I'm visiting and traveling. I've got my list going, but sadly it seems like I end up adding two things for every one I get to cross off! But I really do enjoy all this crafting.

I actually didn't get to do much crafting yesterday. I baked Ben a "congratulations" cake because yesterday was the first day that was completely his new job. He's finally transitioned to his promotion now, I think. Anyway, I baked a half-sized cake for a treat of dessert this week, and I made some muffins for breakfasts, but what took up a lot of my day was trying to fix up the chicken yard for my poor cold chickies.

We have them in their pen and it's parked in one place for the winter, in the corner of the deck and the house, to offer them the southern exposure and give them some protection from the wind. But the pen is long enough, that a lot of the yard sticks out past the house, and so it was really open and unprotected. I used straw bales to build a little low wall all the way around, which I think helped a lot, and I spread some more staw in the yard to cover the waste that was gathering. In the spring I'm going to till all the straw and chicken yard waste right in and have a big bed of cutting flowers. I'm hoping that it'll work well, because otherwise, we'll have quite the unsightly dead patch right next to the deck. So I spread them new bedding in the coop because they pushed all the straw out and were sleeping on the bare board (they do have perches, but they never used them, and just slept all in the bedding, so I took them down and hung a light instead to add some warmth in the evenings). I think things are warmer and more cozy for them now.

But the water heat quit working! So I've been refilling their waterer a few times a day with hot water, but I'm going to try to rig something better up this week. The heater we had cost quite a bit, $40, I think, and it actually wasn't an outdoor one. Well, the box said outdoor but the instructions said indoor, so we figured what harm could it do. I guess it really couldn't handle being outside in the rain and snow, and it quit on us. So this time, I've got a completely different plan, involving a big enamel pot, a mason block and a heat lamp. I'll be sure to post if it works out okay.

So there's a chicken update for anyone who was worried about how they're fairing now that it's so cold out. And I'd better go chain myself to my sewing machine before I waste anymore time on the computer!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Apple Muffin Baking Gift Basket

I've finished my baskets for the neighbors, and I'm planning to deliver them today, if the weather isn't too bitter and rainy. Here's a quick run down of how I put them together, in case anyone's looking for some quick, inexpensive gifts to make.

First find a recipe you like and have success with. I used an Applesauce Muffin recipe that I got from my big sister that she got from a friend.

Gather up your dry ingredients and layer them into a jar or treat bag. I used whole wheat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
Tamp each layer down and even it out after it's been measured into the jar. (Julie, I actually had to talk myself into using the Waibel's honey jars, even though they worked perfectly, because I hated to give them away. I know, I'm crazy.)

Gather up any extras you'll want to include for the muffins, like raisins, or dried cherries. In this case, I chopped some of our dried apples and put them into little treat bags.

Package each component, label it and make an instruction card. I used scrapbooking stuff because I had it all on hand for card making, but you can use what you have available, like sticky labels, or recipe cards. Be sure to include all pertinent information, like oven temp and time.


Put all the components into a basket for gift giving. In this case, I have the muffin mix, the apple chips, and the half-pint of applesauce. I used hard candies for the filler in the basket, and I was finished. If you'd like to use the same idea to make a higher value gift, you could package everything in a mixing bowl instead of a basket, and include nice mixing spoons, a muffin scoop, pretty seasonal muffin papers, an apron, and even the muffin tin.

This is just a little something to say Merry Christmas to the neighbors, so I kept it as inexpensive as possible, and only used ingredients and our own home canned applesauce and home dried apple chips.

After your basket is packed, use basket wrap or cellophane to wrap it up, and decorate with ribbons and a pretty card. You could also tie cute measuring spoons or a mixing spoon into the ribbon as a decoration.



Here is the cost breakdown, if anyone else is as cheap as I am and is just dying to know, lol.

Wheat Flour: 1 cup @ $.12 (I figured $.50 a pound, but I don't really remember if I paid that much, I'm just rounding up.)
Rolled Oats: 1 cup @ $.15
Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon and Nutmeg: It actually hurts my head to figure these, lol, so I'm willing to make a stab and overestimat at $.05 for all.
Brown Sugar: $.06
Total for Muffin Mix: $.34

Home Canned Applesauce: 1 cup @ $.07
Home Dried Apples: 1/2 cup @ $.o4 (This is pretty much a guess because it's hard to tell how many pounds of pre-dried that equals, but it's an okay estimate, I think.)
Total for Extras: $.11

The wrapping and jars were leftovers, recycled, or reused from what I've got around already. The only jar I might consider adding the cost of would be the half-pint canning jars, because I don't know if I'll get them back. So I think I'll put in a quarter for all the wrapping, and paper scraps and that jar.
Total for Wrapping and Jars: $.25

The baskets were a dollar from the Goodwill, which will be the most expensive part of the gift. If I hadn't wanted to spend that, I could easily have just wrapped a box in festive paper, or re-used packaging from something else.
The candy was from a CVS deal, and Ben and I weren't ever going to eat it, so I'm going to call that free. If you don't have free candy around, just use shredded junk mail as filler in the basket.
Total for Basket and Filler: $1.00

Grand Total for each Gift:
$1.70

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ads of Questionable Taste

I wanted to address this in case anyone has been put off by some of the ads that have found their way into my project wonderful ad boxes lately. I have always had them set to only accept ads suitable for children, but since people are allowed to rate their own ads, I guess it's easy for some distasteful material to slip through. So far, I've taken care of a few of these advertisers by manually blocking their accounts from my ad boxes. If anyone else notices something they don't think I'd want on my blog space, please feel free to email me. The advertising at project wonderful is kind of random and they change on their own, and I've found some pretty neat sites through them, but that doesn't mean they're all appropriate either, so I won't be offended at all for a heads up if you catch something that seems questionable.

Hope everyone is having a very fun weekend!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Elves

I'm feeling pretty elvish today. I think it's the perfect day to set a bit of a secret workshop and finish up some gifts for Ben. Or maybe pull out the scrapbooking supplies and make all the Christmas cards.

I don't have any pretty pictures of finished objects to show off today, because yesterday was spent almost entirely at the Christmas luncheon with the Homemakers' club. I left around 10:30 and didn't get back home till about 4. I didn't even have to cook dinner, since I brought my leftover fried chicken from lunch home for Ben. It was a nice restaurant and some pretty tasty chicken! That's something I'd really like to learn to cook well myself: fried chicken. I'm usually concerned that I'm undercooking the chicken, or I end up drying it out way too much.

Today, I've been doing some weekly chores like cleaning floors and putting all the trash out. We put the last of the old moving trash out for the garbage men. Only a year of sitting in the garage, and it's finally gone! We gave boxes away, recycled them, sold them, and put them out for the trash... it took a long time to get rid of all that. So, it'll be much easier to get the garage cleaned up, now that there aren't boxes blocking the cabinets. I'm hoping to get that straightened out next week, so it'll be neater for the boy who's taking care of the cats and chickens for us.

Other than cleaning, today I'm going to be canning cranberry sauce with Ben and crocheting that baby blanket that I'm supposed to have finished before we leave for Michigan next weekend. I'm starting to think that I might have too many projects that I'm supposed to have finished before we leave for Michigan next weekend! You guys can keep track of how much I can manage to get finished.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Quick Gift

I wanted to have a little something to give to my older neighbor as a Christmas gift, but the baskets I'm making for a few others aren't really appropriate. The gift baskets have ingredients for making applesauce muffins, but our neighbor's mother, who I looked out for over the summer while they were on vacation, is in her late eighties and doesn't bake or anything like that anymore.

So, I came up with this idea yesterday and got them all finished up, sewing on the beads while I watched a movie with Ben last night.
I've noticed that she likes to cover her glass of water with something, and she usually uses an old jar lid, so I made her a pair of these little embroidered glass covers.

What is it with older people keeping water around and covering it like that? Why not just finish the water? Anyway, I guess they just do, so I figured she'd enjoy a pretty cover for it.

Here is a close-up of the embroidery. I chose a monogram because it seemed like a pretty universal sort of design that "goes" all year.
To make these I cut (for each one) two six inch squares of plain cotton. I ironed on the monogram in the center of one, embroidered it, then pressed it. Then I put the plain square and the embroidered square wrong sides together and used the rolled hem on my serger to finish all the edges, making about a five to five and half inch finished square. I sealed the serging with a tiny dot of fray check at each corner and when it was dry, trimmed the threads. Then, I made little dangles out of a silver headpin, a purple glass 6mm faceted bead, and an iridescent seed bead, bending the end of the headpin into a loop. I sewed one of these onto each corner by hand. And that's it, all done!
If glass covers seem supremely un-useful to you, you could follow all the same steps, but sandwich a small piece of batting, about a half an inch smaller on all sides than the fabric, sprinkled with fragant dried herbs like lavendar, between the embroidered piece and the lining before serging them together. You'll have a lovely and simple sachet.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creme Brulee


I wanted to make Ben a bit of a treat yesterday, since it's been a busy time for him. He's starting a new position next week, so this week is a bit of transition time, with both teams demanding attention, etc. So, I pulled out that whipping cream we got on sale two weeks ago and whipped up some creme brulee ("oh this old dessert, it's just something I whipped up"). It's not bad for a first attempt. I didn't let it thicken quite enough, but my cookbook said not to let it boil, and bubbles were happening, so I guess I panicked, lol. Also, the recipe called for 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar to be spread over the four ramikins and broiled. The brown sugar taste is good, but that much sugar makes for quite a thick crust. I think I prefer the thinner crackly crust that you get in restaurants. But it was definately fun to try a new thing. And I don't think I've ever tempered eggs as smoothly as I did this time.
I'm still a tad bruised and sore in places, but I'm feeling about 80 -90 percent, so I'm doing pretty well. I've been knitting a lot on that (never-ending) vest for Ben, but I realized this morning that I've got a baby blanket only half finished that's supposed to be a Christmas present. So, I'm pulling out the crochet hooks and working on that.
I also have some gift baskets to put together for the neighbors, so I'll be doing that today, and Ben wants to can cranberry sauce when he gets home from work. While the canning pot is going, I'm going to turn a quart of applesauce into four half-pints for the gift baskets.
It's a gray cold day outside... definately a day to just keep busy indoors and stay warm! Hope you all are staying warm today as well!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Decorations

Wow, I was sore yesterday, but I didn't want to let any cramping or soreness set in too much, so I decided to keep moving most of the day. So, after I cleaned up a bit, I pulled out the Christmas decorations and got to work.

I decided to not to use the tree this year, since it's so close to Christmas already and we're going to be in Michigan for the week before and after. But I couldn't let my halls stay undecked. I decorated the front door, with my wreath and a string of lights. There are nails all around the door already from the last people who lived here, so that was really easy, I just had to hang them. And of course, the stockings, and the manger scene. So here's a look around at a few of my Christmas decorations.

My brother's wife gave this to us one of the first Christmasses we'd been married. Her mom makes these little snowmen guys our of chenille bedspreads, and she bought one for every one of us from her that year. Ben and I love ours because he looks like a cat burglar. The black hat makes him look like more of a thug than a festive guy, but in my mind, that makes him more loveable.

Every year, we like to play little games with him, like move him around the house in different poses. In AZ, I put him outside the livingroom window on a step stool, like he was casing the joint. And once, when Ben came to bed, I had him under the covers on Ben's side, using his pillow. Anyway, it's one of our odder traditions, but we really enjoy him.


My manger scene is sort of generic and doesn't have too much of a story to it. I got it clearanced after Christmas the first Christmas we were married. I absolutely love nativities, and if I had my way, I'd put them everywhere and have a million different kinds. But I do try to restrain myself, and only own big one. I have a few different Holy Family ornaments and candle holders too.

I lieu of the tree, I put a strand of lights and all the glass bulb ornaments here in my fireplace basket on the tree skirt. Our presents to each other can be put in the basket or around it on the floor.



This is photographic evidence of the reason that Pickles gets so surly and grumpy during the holidays. For some reason, she feels like we don't love her as much as we love Smudge and Columbo. It's not true, but you know how cats are, they get a crazy idea in their heads.....

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Ouch!

Today is sort of sucking so far. I had nightmares all night and woke up in the middle of a bad dream about my dad falling, so I was all upset and disoriented before I was even out of bed. Then Ben was in a terrible mood because of hassles with work and all.

Then, on the way out to go to mass, Ben warned me that the steps were really slippery, because it had sleeted, and everything was pretty much coated in clear ice. So, I carefully walked to the steps, held to the corner of the house (we don't have a railing... maybe we should fix that?) and preceeded to slam onto my butt and slide down all the steps and into the path on my tailbone.

Luckily, I don't think I did any big damage, just lots of bruises and stiffness. I'm sure I'm going to be crazy sore tomorrow. An the side and top of my left hand is already a very lovely purple color. Ugh. I'm so clumsy.

But I had a really nice time at church, because the kids were there today and it was so cute to see them all in their little school uniforms and see them doing all the readings and such in the mass. It reminded me of when I was in elemetary school and we'd go to mass every Wednesday morning.

So, things started off rough, and I feel a little like hiding under the covers before something else gets me, but I think I'll do something warm and quiet instead, like read a book or do some embroidery. I sure am glad I didn't break any bones, anyway!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Triumph!

Detail of the seams on the border of the MST3K quilt.
I was so excited I had to stop and take a picture to post. This is the very best I've ever matched any seams. It's so good to feel the satisfaction of good craftsmanship, lol. Well, I'd better get back to work and do the same on the bottom border now.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ben's New Fingerless Gloves

First off, I'm feeling a million times better today! All that resting was good to keep me from getting sicker, but man, I am so sick of sitting! So, I worked out to my Dancing with the Stars fitness dvd today, and I'm feeling very energized. Which is good, because I still have lots of stuff to catch up with.

Ben's gloves are now finished, made just to his specifications. I guess the fingerless style is his favorite, lol. He looks like a cute paperboy from Newsies when he wears them. But don't tell him I said so! I guess it's back to the Neverending Vest (ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhhh *think theme music*) for my knitting projects.

I'm going to spend the afternoon finishing the quilt top for Dan's quilting (finishing, ha! I just have to sew on the top and bottom borders. I've been avoiding it in case it's hard to match the seams on the contrasting cormer blocks. I'm just a procrastinator.) and sewing together the covers for all the corn bags I made.

I've also got bread in the bread maker to go with egg white omelets for dinner. We have too many eggs! If anyone reads my blog and lives in the area and wants fresh eggs, they're for sale. There are six dozen eggs in my fridge right now. I definately need some more customers, lol.

So, that's what's going on here today, I'm very glad to be feeling better and that the sun is shining. I certainly hope I can keep the flu and colds away for the rest of the month at least!

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Freezing Homemade Turkey Stock


I took care of my turkey stock yesterday, because it was such a sunny day, I was concerned the garage wouldn't stay cool enough to keep it safe. After skimming the hardened fat off the top, I used a wide mouthed canning jar to hold the bag open for me, and just filled the bags using my canning funnel. I ended up with nine quart bags of stock! That's enough to last us till the end of January or February at least. It depends how much soup I plan to serve. In the winter, we eat soup way more often. Anyway, the point is, it's very worth the time it took, and now I have a lot of generally healthy, low salt stock, for free, using what would be thrown away anyway.
I'm feeling a little better this morning. I certainly slept better last night, than the night before, because Ben picked up nyquil for me yesterday. I'm still sore throated and that ear is bothering me a little. I don't think I've got an infection, because my temperature is only 99 and I tend to run hot. I'm prone to ear infections though, so I want to make sure that all that fluid doesn't stay put.
In order to try to avoid getting very sick and having a fever and all, I'm planning to spend today pretty quietly as well. I've got plenty of time for other stuff, so in the meantime, I'll make myself useful by knitting Ben's mittens. I got a good start on them yesterday, but I kept falling asleep. Today, I'm not nearly as tired, so I think I might be able to finish them.
Thanks for all the books suggestions! I'll definately be visiting the library this weekend.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Finished Hat

I finished Ben's hat last night. I was afraid it would be too big after I got it off the needles, but he says it's perfect. I won't worry about re-doing it, it's wool, so I can always just shrink it a tad if it stretches out too much.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night coughing and ear-achey. I think Ben's right, we're probably keeping the house too cold. So I'm going to change the thermostat program to keep it a few degrees warmer all day.

But since I'm not feeling top notch, I think I'll just knit today. I started a matching mitten for Ben last night, so I think I'll transfer it to a long needle and start the second and knit them both at the same time in the magic loop method. Dinner tonight is pasta, and there's homemade sauce and homemade garlic bread in the freezer and lunch is leftover so I literally don't have to do anything but collect eggs and scoop the litter boxes until Ben gets home. A perfect day just to rest and knit and read. I definately do not want to be sick when we got to MI for Christmas.

It drives me crazy that I get sick so easily! Anyone have any immune booster ideas?

I'm in the middle of this very interesting book about the middle ages. It's about the four daugters of the count of provence who all became queens. It's very interesting, and even though it's history with footnotes and all, it's a good read, since the story is so compelling. It's called, Four Queens, by Nancy Goldstone. I'm also tempted to get out the Little House in the Big Woods. I read the whole series in descending order over the summer, last time I was sick, and I have that one left. Then maybe I'll turn around and read them in the right order. I think Farmer Boy and These Happy Golden Years are my favorites. Though I do like The First Four Years as well. I just wish that one were longer. And maybe slightly less depressing.

I'll shoot for finished mitten pictures for tomorrow. I'm pretty sure he wants them fingerless again, so that'll be a pretty quick project.

Some discussion questions (I'm just in that sort of mood, I guess.):
What projects are you working on? (I'm just hoping I'm not the only one with a million different things in the works.)
What are your immune booster ideas? (Please help me stay bug free for more than a week or two at a time!)
Have you read any good, interesting books lately? (I'm always looking for new things to read!)

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Salad: Day 1

Okay, that makes it sound much more dramatic than it really is. Honestly, I don't know why it's so easy for me to forget veggies in my meal planning, but I usually only serve a vegetable at dinner, with some carrot sticks at lunch maybe. And sometimes, I even forget that part. Because, honestly, the potato portion of a meal tends to be the most important for me.

Our strategy to make a salad everyday a workable goal is to make up the salad for a few days at a time, portioning them in re-used take out containers. (I saved all the ones we ever got from the awesome Chinese place by our house in AZ, and their just the greatest containers.) Anyway, have a salad already made and portioned and ready for me, definately makes it easier to pull it out as an afternoon snack or side at lunch. I don't like dressing, so I can spinkle on a little lemon juice if I want to, or just eat it as is. Ben likes a homemade vinagrette type dressing, so I use one of those little teeny tiny Tupperware cups with the lid, and put in some apple cider vinegar and a few drops of oil with cracked pepper, and he can shake it up and dress his salad at work when he's ready to eat it.

It's a really cold day today, and the snow is definately sticking, though it only snowed an inch or maybe less. Last night, after we drained the stock, I put it into one of my recycled bakery frosting buckets, snapped on the lid, and set it outside to cool down overnight. It hasn't been freezing or I may have thought ahead enough to realize that I'd just end up with a 6 quart block of stock-sicle. Anyway, it didn't break the bucket or anything, so I've got it in the garage to let it warm up to liquid, so I can skim it and portion it for the freezer. It's convienent that it's so cold outside and in the garage... It would have been pretty difficult fitting that much stock into the refrigerator.

I spent my morning knitting, and Ben's hat is almost finished. He's wants to fold the ribbing up, so I've got to make it an extra long one, but that's fine, because I want it to be extra warm. This afternoon, I put together a turkey pot pie from Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner tonight. There was enough filling for two more pies' worth that I put in the freezer. And I baked some applesauce muffins for this week's breakfasts. I tried a little experiment and cut back the sugar from 3/4 of a cup to 1/4 of a cup. I think they may be a tad dry, so I might want to try a 1/4 and a couple tablespoons next time. But I'll wait and see what the verdict is after the taste testing.

I draped out rabbit ears in tin foil today in an attmept to get all the channels to come in at once without having to move them around and adjust stuff in order to watch. It worked quite well, but now there's a crazy tacky sculpture-like thing in the corner of the living room, looking weird. I'm debating about experimenting with wrapping them in coils of copper wire instead. It would still look weird, but not quite as trashy, but I don't know if it'll up their power as well as the huge sheets of tin foil do.

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