Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Hunting Weekend

This time they aren't out of town, but it's almost as if they are. Knowing my husband needed to get right to sleep when he got home from work last night (he works 2nd shift) I didn't go to bed at the same time, I knew we'd talk too much and keep him up too long. I stayed up until 3am, watching a movie, putting borders on my table runner and beginning the marking and playing on the computer. I LOVE those kind of nights. When we first bought this house, my husband worked 3rd shift and I didn't work so I'd stay up until the wee hours every night.

My men (husband along with 20 and 13 year old sons) left early this morning to go sit in a cold, blustery field for the day. This will be repeated for the next 3 days or until they fill their tags (2 each) whichever comes first.

I look at these days rather like the ones when they are away. I do the things that need to be done, but spend as much time quilting as I can. I finished the topper for my sewing room, now I'm working on a table runner for our dining room table. I'm marking it now and will baste it right away so I can begin the quilting. I'm hoping to get a really good jump on it this weekend. This one has "Merry Christmas" appliqued on it and I'm having so much fun with these "message" toppers that I think I'll do a Happy New Year one and maybe even figure out one for each season. Right now a series of smaller projects sounds like fun, though I'll also be pulling out another bigger quilt to work on. I have one in mind, I just have to figure out what box it's in!

Ruthie received birthday money from her grandma, so I took her shopping while Rachel got her hair cut. Here she is with the set of wooden puzzles I found for her. We're always on the lookout for things that are fun but will help teach her, since she will need more help along the way. She also loves anything with buttons and noise, so it will be a noisy Christmas in our house!

Since I had to move the TV out of my sewing room and back to the family room, I've been rearranging a few things, keeping in mind that soon our Christmas decorations will be coming out. My little DVD player is once again set up so I can watch/listen to movies while I sew and I moved the little fountain that I bought with birthday money into the dining room, it now sits atop my treadle and it's actually a really nice spot for it. I think that the lights show up better than any place I've had it before.Also on today's agenda is making soup and possibly homemade rolls. I love to make soup and today is a day when everyone will be eating at different times, so it's a perfect meal for that. I can take my time and putter with it this afternoon so it won't really feel like I've spent much time cooking at all. I think I'll make a batch of cookie dough, too, we are out of chocolate chip cookies and they will be good to put in the lunches that my husband and sons are taking out with them.

I'm ready to mark the outer border of my table runner, so I'd better get to it if I want much quilting to be done today. I'll need to go to bed at a decent time tonight as tomorrow afternoon is my quilting bee and I need to do a short job with my husband before that (he's leaving his hunting spot for a few hours to do a couple of jobs he couldn't cover) so I don't want to feel too tired tomorrow. I'm hoping for another late night tomorrow night and know that even if they fill their tags early that my men will be very busy processing their gain.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Mixed Bag

I've had a busy, productive couple of days. Today will be busy, but not likely as productive.

I'm a food channel junkie. I get lots of ideas from it, from techniques to recipes to how to tweak things to make them work for me.

I've seen them make empanadas on several different shows with several different types of filling. Mine were more "Hot Pocket" size but they came out great. It took me all afternoon to make them, I used the dinner roll recipe for my bread machine and made two batches of dough. The filling for these is a mixture of Thanksgiving leftovers which include some turkey, dressing, green bean casserole and creamed corn.
These were a big hit with my family. I had quite a few left, which were heated up for lunch on Sunday. These will be making regular appearances in my house, with a variety of fillings. In fact, I've already decided that it will take 3 batches of dough to make as many as I'd like since my husband and our oldest daughter take box lunches with them and our oldest son gets home from work about 1:00 or so and is usually looking for lunch then.

With the cold weather setting in, we've been pulling out winter coats. I was very excited to find one of my daughter's coats fits me. She hardly wears this one any more as she has one she likes better. I also found 2 more that will fit me later on in the winter. Last year, I bought Ruthie a really sweet pink furry coat...but it's still WAY too big for her! In searching through coats I found this one, which has been worn by all six of my kids. It's getting a little dingy, but is otherwise in good shape. I found it at the Carter's Outlet store when our oldest was a toddler. It even came with red snowpants and the set was twelve dollars! We sure have gotten our use out of that over the years. This one fits Ruthie much better, so her pretty pink coat will likely be waiting one more winter. I forget how tiny my girl is until I buy her clothing in a size that I think she should be wearing! With her in this picture is Lucas, who is happy to snuggle up to his sister for a picture any time.

My big project of the weekend was to finish my table topper. This was really fun to work on, it was a 'wing it' project. I saw something similar in a catalog and made my own version of it. I started this last Monday, finding the letters on a banner program on my computer. The letters are hand appliqued and it's hand quilted. I'm really please with how this came out. I think the blue almost looks like the sky does when it's heavy with snow.

I'm nearly done with the baby quilt that I pulled out so I'd have something to hand quilt on. I've also started a new project. This one will be a table runner for our dining room table and will have "Merry Christmas" lettered on it. I'm working on prepping the letters now.

Also on the agenda is pulling out some patterns to see what other odds and ends I might be able to make for this year. I'm finding myself in the unusual position of having spare time during December, I figured this was a good year to make some new decorations for our own house! I'm also hoping to make a few small beaded ornaments and a beaded, sparkly garland to go on the table top fiber optic tree I bought at the end of the season last year.

So while our decorations aren't out yet (though some neighbors lights are put up...and turned on every night!) my thoughts are with Christmas. It feels a little surreal so far...maybe some Christmas music and a plan on when to decorate will help!

It won't likely be today, though, as I will be spending the afternoon on the run. My oldest is in cosmetology school and Monday is "model" day. They have to have someone come in so they can cut or color their hair. Two weeks ago Rachel (daughter number 2) went to get her hair colored and today she's going back to get it cut. The school is 25 minutes away and with gas prices they way they are it's foolish to come home. I'm going to take Ruthie to spend her birthday money from Grandma, but that won't take the 2 hours that we need to fill. Once we've wandered around the store for a while, we'll head back to the school and wait in the waiting room...I'm hoping to have the applique ready for the next project to take along, but I think I'm being overly optimistic!

So off I go, it will never be ready if I don't get off here! Have a great day everyone...happy quilting!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Lovely Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day is quiet for us. My husband's Mom and siblings all live in different states and my parents live in Arizona. I do have siblings here, but we are not close and after years of trying to get them to come for holidays I decided that it was causing me way too much stress.

We've occasionally had friends over for Thanksgiving, sometimes for dinner, sometimes for dessert and cards later. This year, it was "just us" and it was a lovely day.

Our oldest went to play football at 8am and came home with a slightly sprained ankle a few hours later. I spent the day chopping and simmering and cooking while my husband played cards with the kids.

As we neared dinner time, I realized they were still playing their card game when I was ready to set the table. We don't have an eat-in kitchen, we have an open area floor plan in that our main level is "L" shaped and each room is open to the other. The dining area is more formal than a kitchen eat-in area, but not as formal as a dining room. The kitchen and what was the living room (now my sewing room) are off of the dining room.

My sewing room has a nice oak table in the middle to work on and it doubles as an extra dining area when we have company. I put in the extra leaf, added a table cloth and set the table and voila! a nice dining room. The food was laid out on our dining room table and it really felt more festive to be eating at a different table than we usually do. As soon as the cloth went on, Ruthie claimed a seat and sat there until dinner was served. She sat in a 'big chair' (no booster) and quite enjoyed the special meal. After dinner, we quickly did the dishes and then watched movies and talked and just enjoyed the restful day. Dessert was put out at about 7:00 and we sat around the kitchen table for that.

Yesterday evening we had friends over for cards and dessert. Mostly I quilted, though, which was really nice after the previous three very busy days. I hope to finish my table topper today.

It appears as if the nice TV that I got from my grandma has stopped working, so we're a little sad about that. We never thought we would have such a nice one, it's a little disappointing that it lasted such a short time. I'll probably have to move the one in my sewing room back downstairs, which is also a bit disappointing, I've so enjoyed it being there.

So now I'm feeling a little out of it and hope to pop myself back into gear. We seem to be in this cycle where things are falling apart around our ears, hopefully the coming new year will bring some better things!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

I quilted my poor fingers off this weekend and I'm sad to say my weekend was more successful than that of my husband and sons. They were hunting this weekend, my husband did get a small one, and their group (9 total) got two more. They share what they get, so 3 deer among 9 hunters won't yield very much.

They are still hunting this morning in hopes of some last minute success. In spite of the disappointment of not getting much, I'm sure they still had a wonderful time and these 4 days away for my very hard-working husband will have done him a lot of good regardless.

My weekend was decidedly more productive. I finished my brother-in-law's quilt last evening, binding and all. I had hoped to be finished by Thankgiving, but know that I often get distracted a few days before a holiday so wasn't sure if I could really make that goal.

Once it was finished, I pulled out an old baby quilt that was nearly finished, I'll soon be quilting the border on that one and should have it finished in the next couple of weeks. It will share my time with a new project for Christmas, a table runner for the table by our front door. I played around with a program on my computer to make some nice letters to applique, so last night I got those printed off. Today I will pull fabrics and prepare my applique and perhaps even begin the sewing if time permits. That will be a good project to bring to my bee tomorrow night. I won't stay for it all this time as my husband will be home. He takes Thanksgiving week off from his 2nd job each year and with the days of for hunting this gives him a really nice break at this time of year.

Also on my agenda today is a walk to the bank. We have money that needs to be deposited, but there isn't a vehicle here that will fit me and my two younger children, everyone else is out. Thankfully it won't be too cold today and it looks like the rain is over, too, so I'm trying to be thankful for the nice weather and exercise I'll get rather than fret over the loss of sewing time!

My quiet, relaxing long weekend is nearly over and heading me into a few days that will be very busy. Come Saturday, though, I can take a deep breath and plan some fun projects for the next few weeks as well as plan my menus, decorate for Christmas and generally just enjoy the holiday season.

My next chance to post will be Friday or Saturday, so I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy Thanksgiving. Take a deep breath and enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Three years ago right now, I was sitting in my hospital room, recovering from my first c-section, wondering what the future held in store for our little girl. Instead of in my arms, she was in the Special Care Nursery, hooked up to wires and tubes and monitors. We had delivered in the middle of the night as she wasn't doing well inside. I was put out for surgery because the spinal didn't take right and I woke up asking where my baby was. The nurse wouldn't tell me, she said she didn't know. I'd delivered my previous 5 children there, the hospital is small, I knew she had to know and I thought the baby had died and she was waiting for the doctor to come tell me.

My husband came in and said "It's a girl and she has Down Syndrome." I said "ok" and was my mind was racing. "Down Syndrome isn't dead, we'll deal with it," I thought.

"dealing" has been a pleasure. I thank God every day for bringing this special little girl into our lives. We've always been a close family, but we're even closer with the addition of Ruthie, she's captured everyone's heart and I can't imagine life without her.

She had the misfortune of being born during hunting season in a house full of hunters. Since my husband and two older sons were leaving very early this morning for a long weekend up north, we celebrated her birthday a day early. Here she is with her new dolly, it hasn't left her side since she got it yesterday afternoon. She also got a little shopping cart, which is wearing a path from our front door to our kitchen and some refrigerator magnets that have a special holder that will tell her the letter names and sounds. Every time she passes by it, she has to stop and play a couple of letters.

Here she is enjoying her birthday cake. I made 3 cakes, one to cut last night, one to send with my husband (they have a group of 9 guys who are hunting together this weekend) for the men to enjoy on Ruthie's birthday and a third just to have treats around. With our guys gone, I told our girls that they could have people over as much as they wanted this weekend and one can't have a stream of teens in and out without some goodies around!

And here she is all tuckered out from her day. I peeked in on her to find she had slid off the side of her bed...whether in her sleep or having woke up and decided she was too tired to walk, I don't know but this is so characteristic of her. Once she's tired, she's out and there's not a thing to be done about it!

I LOVE hunting weekend. For me, hunting weekend is QUILTING weekend. I usually put aside some special projects and spend as much time as I can muster quilting. With Ruthie more independent and happily playing a lot of the time, I should have more time than I've had the last few years. I've already started the movie marathon and my only real distration will be the computer. With our older girls also busy for much of the weekend, I won't have to share it so much! Still, I hope to do far more quilting than playing on the internet.

My big goal is to finish my Brother-in-law's quilt this weekend. I have just the final border to go, so I'll work on that and get the binding on the front. My quilting bee meets Tuesday night, so I hope to bring it there and hand sew to the back. I also hope to knit a few more dishcloths, applique a block or two and plan out a couple of table runners for ME that I plan to make and quilt as soon as my Christmas work is finished.

Even our meals are easy on hunting weekend. I got some fried chicken from a local deli for dinner, tomorrow night we're making homemade pizza with pre-made crusts and Sunday after church we'll head out to the local Chinese buffet (Lucas has been SO wanting to go there.) Sunday night we'll just have appetizers for supper since we'll have a big lunch and Monday will be cheeseburgers. I have a stack of paper plates so there will be minimal dishes. I can stay up late and sleep late and streatch out in the bed. This is as close as I get to a vacation and I'm going to enjoy every minute!

So off I go, to finish up a few things on here and then to get going on that last border. Once I see how much I can finish today, I'll have a better idea if I can actually finish it this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What to do.....

After about a week of not spending all that much time on my quilting/sewing/knitting, I'm starting to feel more motivated again. This weekend I have 3 different things I'd really like to work on.

The first is my brother-in-law's quilt. I have only a couple of blocks before the borders and am determined to have those blocks done today. It's already off of the frame as I have been watching movies down on our big TV with our 7 year old and really wanted to be quilting.

The frame itself may actually get a break for a while, I'm liking the idea of being able to move around with my quilting for a while, I have nice spots to sit in my sewing room, our family room and a chaise in our bedroom.

I'm also knitting dishcloths again, I bought another cone of yarn and will add to my stash as they are being given to several friends and family members. I'd like to give them in 6-packs and have some extra ones for here.

I'm also getting back to my applique for the quilt I hope to quilt next. I still have about a dozen blocks to applique. I don't know if I'll get to that today or not, but I'm keeping it in mind trying to muster up some motivation for it.

I've been up earlier since the time change as the morning sun comes right at our bedroom window. This is both good and bad. On a day like today, where the house should be rather quiet and I should have a fair amount of time for "me" things, it's quite nice. My husband and oldest are already out working, my oldest daughter and middle son have just left to go help some people rake leaves and the other children (plus a friend) are all still asleep. As soon as I finish here, I'll make some bacon and eggs and a cup of coffee, have breakfast and go to it.

I think the first "it" will be quilting. Though I was knitting until late last night, I really want to meet my goal of finishing my bil's quilt by Thanksgiving and that's not going to happen if I keep picking up other things.

Also on today's agenda is finalizing my grocery list for the week. It's a different list than it is normally because next weekend my husband and two oldest sons will be gone on a hunting trip. This means food for them to take along (a meal enough to feed 9 hungry hunters and lunches for themselves) and a little different menu for those of us remaining at home.

Bren has asked me to share some shopping tips and how we eat on a budget in my blog so I'll be trying to talk a bit about what I do and how we eat to keep on a food budget. While I will have some extra money to spend this week and next (Thankgiving) on food, I want to keep this to a minimum as things are really tight right now. With some careful planning, it can be done.

The biggest money saver for me is shopping the sales. I can't make my list without my Meijer flyer, they have the best sales on meat and I take advantage of them every week. They often have buy one get one free sales....and fairly often have buy one get TWO free sales...that is a particular favorite of mine.

To the left is my little shopping buddy. Ruthie LOVES to go out. If she sees anyone with their shoes or coat, she's wanting to go with them, though often that's not possible, so I take her with me as much as possible. They know her in all the stores we frequent and ask where she is when she stays home. In this picture, she decided she was going out. She put on her shoes, found her purse, picked up a toy cell phone and those towels (I have no idea what the reasoning on the towels was!) and walked to the door saying "bye" and waving. The funniest part is she's always fully expecting someone to open the door and let her out. She's sometimes quite put out when that doesn't happen.

To the right is Ruthie's penguin. We found this and many other musical Christmas decorations at the store last weekend and she loved them so much we will find a way to get a few of them. After so many years, a lot of our Christmas decorations are getting pretty shabby, so we're weeding out some old things and trying to pick up some new ones.
So that's it for now. In coming blogs, I'll talk more about holiday food, how to shop for it, how to save on it and also more about my family. Lucas is now awake and would like a cheese omelette for breakfast, then it will be time for quilting. Happy Saturday!

Monday, November 5, 2007

OK, I'll Admit It....

Halloween has barely ended and I have Christmas fever. It's November 6th and I'm playing Christmas music.

I have a lot to do today. With the comings and goings in my house on the weekends and my husband having more time at home, we tend to do less housework on the weekend and just enjoy each others company. It makes for a nice weekend, but a busy Monday and sometimes Tuesday depending on what's going on here.

So today, I have dishes soaking in the sink, laundry to do, I want to do some organizing in our bedroom which ends up being the catch-all space and I'm baking my usual triple batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I need to straighten up in my sewing room, too. Hopefully somewhere in all that I'll find some quilting time. Lately I'm not meeting my 3 hour goal, in fact, I haven't met it 6 of the last 7 days. In spite of that, I'm on block 17 of 25 on the frame quilt, making my goal to be finished by Thanksgiving pretty realistic. I think knowing that I don't have to rush around like a crazy person this December is making it hard for me to focus sometimes. I'm easily distracted by the computer especially and will have to crack down on myself if I don't want to find myself in a crunch in spite of my easy 'schedule.'

Soon the list making will start. The Thanksgiving menu on one sheet, Christmas dinner on another, the Christmas Cookie list on a third. A few different shopping lists so I'm not missing any key ingredients when the days come.

One of the things this big jump on my Christmas sewing/crafts will do is enable me to make a few new things for OUR house. So many times I would love to have some new, homemade things for my own home, but after the holidays I can't muster up the enthusiasm and by the time I can it's time to work on things for other people.

This year, I may have the time to do some special things for here and I'm very excited. Our front table has a fall look now, if I make a new table topper for it I can put some special Christmas things there, it will be seen not only as one first comes in the door, but it's in my sewing area as well, so I'll get to really enjoy it. I have a small fiber optic tree that I bought on clearance after Christmas with the intention of making tiny beaded ornaments and garlands for it. I think I'll try to make the garland this year, we'll see if I have time for ornaments, too.

I was at the store with my two younger kids yesterday and found the cutest Christmas decorations, they are musical and move and Ruthie especially just loved them. She loves anything with music and she was just tickled when she saw them so I'm hoping to be able to get a couple of them this year. Those will go on the front table, also, where Ruthie can easily see them, but access can be supervised. I have a feeling we'll have to stock up on batteries, though we may be glad for a dead battery break after a couple of weeks!

So I'd better get to it. While waiting for pictures to load I got most of my dishes done, so one task in nearly completed. I've learned to go go go and get as much done as I can, but once the motivation/desire is gone to move onto something else (unless there are things that NEED to be done, in which case I push on through.) I was SO tired last night that everything seemed overwhelming, but God is good and today I feel full of energy and ready to go. We'll see how far that takes me!

Ho ho ho!! (I know, don't you want to slap me?)