Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is. . .

a time to give thanks.
And a time to remember those who are no longer with us. And a time to bake cookies!

And a time to knit socks for someone you love.

Wishing you and yours all the joys of this Christmas season.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Planning Ahead

This is pretty much the extent of my Christmas sewing this year. An elderly patient at work likes fans, and she always brings the staff a gift, so I make her something every year. This is tiny, to hang on her tree.
Mother Nature has been much better at planning ahead than I have. Look at all the snow she's made, and winter doesn't even start for another three days. I don't recall ever having a blanket of snow covering the windows like this before. Interesting phenomenom! She's been making ice as well.

We've all pitched in the shovel this week.

Wishing you a happy weekend.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The knitting bug

(This is a sweater my mom knit for me a good twenty years ago. Didn't she do amazing work?)
Once upon a time there was a remarkable woman named Judith. The people I knew mostly called her "Mom" or "Mrs. Spearing" or "Judy" but her name was Judith, and she liked to be called Judith. One person even called her "Jutsy" which she didn't like at all, but since it was her own mother, she couldn't do much about it.
Judith had many fine talents. She cooked nourishing and delicious meals for her family, she kept the enormous amount of laundry for her family of six under control at all times, she kept the house in good order, worked at the library, wrote stories, and knit the most amazing things. She made sweaters for everyone in the family, as well as hats, mittens, scarves, shawls, and doll clothes. She made LOTS of socks because her husband liked hand knit socks the best.

She also taught Sunday school, was president of the church for two terms, and rose to the occasion admirably when her daughter needed a purple velvet dress to wear to a high school dance.

(This is the latest sock I made for Larry. It only took nine days! But I still have to make the other one, and finish it before Christmas.)

She passed her love of sewing and knitting on to me, one of her four children. When I was about eight, all the girls in the neighborhood decided to learn to knit. "Mrs. Spearing" kindly provided yarn, needles, and endless patient instruction. When we pulled the yarn too tight and the stitches just wouldn't come off the needles, she would knit a row for us to loosen it up so we could continue. When we came to a difficult part she showed us what to do next. We made countless headbands and doll scarves and blankets, and tried a mitten or two. Then summer came and we took ourselves off to the joy of swimming and bike riding, and put aside our knitting. Mom was probably glad to have the time to go back to her story writing.

Many years went by before I knit anything else, but when I was in high school I decided to knit a sweater. A plain navy blue sweater with no designs or stripes or anything at all to relieve the tedium of knitting back and forth, row after row. Mom kindly finished it for me so as not to waste the yarn, when I declared I had never done anything so boring in my life.
Many years later I had a little child who loved to be read aloud to. Everything we read about he wanted to try, or have me try. Knitting was no exception, and when he was about four I made this scarf for him because we'd been reading a book which included something about knitting.
Many more years went by, and then in early 2010 I got bitten by The Knitting Bug. Wow! I have made 15 snowmen, a cat, a pig, two bunnies, four mittens, and five socks. I have neglected my quilting and especially my blogging, but I have found knitting the perfectly PERFECT portable project.
Now I take it when I visit my mom. She can no longer see to knit, and doesn't remember that she taught all the little neighborhood girls how. She often doesn't know who I am, but I sit beside her knitting while she tells me about a past that never happened. Her quietly brilliant mind has let her down, along with her eyes.
Her four children all have good memories of the things she knew and taught us, and we all have hats and sweaters she made for us.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random thoughts

The problem with blogging for nearly three years, is that I do the same things every year. This is probably the third time I have posted pictures of our Christmas cactus in bloom. I am amazed that something green and kind of odd looking can turn into this most magnificent, glorious thing of beauty. Mother Nature, you rock!
(Please observe Mr. Cat, as usual right in the middle of the project at hand.)
Larry and I went to a nature themed quilt show the Metro Park in Rocky River was hosting. I took lots of photos, but have been hesitant to share them due to an article I read in a quilting magazine. I guess the rules of quilting etiquette state that one does not post photos of other peoples' work without their permission, and this includes someone's design that another person has made. Including my own work, using another's pattern. AAK! It kind of spoils the fun of blogging.
Many of the quilts I've posted photos of have been my own designs, but I sometimes do use a pattern, and give credit where it is due. According to the article, that is not enough. You must also get permission from the designer. Well, phooey, that just makes it too hard.
As I'm typing, a remark my nephew has made, comes to mind. TLDR. It stands for "too long, didn't read" which I can picture this post becoming. LOL!
I'm sure you are being bombarded with advertising, as I am, in your email and your letter box. "Last chance to save!" they proclaim, just as though they're not going to send you another message the next day. When you see the photos of more and more stuff, much of which will end up in a landfill within a few years, it's sobering.
Of course we want to give our loved ones gifts, but not something that will just become part of the overcrowded landfills. Ideally, gifts become cherished posessions, but if they even end up at Goodwill or the used book store I won't feel too badly. At least someone else gets the chance to enjoy them. But that orange Christmas tree made in China and bought by some misguided buyer for an American store is truly not going to be cherished for long by anyone. What were they thinking?
Tomorrow we will celebrate my mom's 88th birthday. The chocolate cake just came out of the oven, and is cooling so I can frost it. When I was growing up she liked lemon cake and orange cake and sponge cake. Now she likes chocolate cake, just like I do!

Friday, November 12, 2010


I have found that I can get a lot more done if I stay away from the computer! One of the doctors I work for is retiring and moving to sunny Florida. I made this wall hanging for him.
I have been having a great time knitting more snowmen. I was going to give him some to take along, because Florida is well known for its lack of snow. One of the gals at the library knitting group I attend (who doesn't let politeness get in the way of truth) said, "He won't take those with him."
Oh. Of course I wasn't going to give him all the snowmen. I am keeping some, and have plans for the others. I know when someone is relocating it is hard enough to decide what to take without having unwanted snowmen thrust upon them. So what do you think? Shall I give him some snowmen?
Many thanks to David for sharing his computer with me. The "D" won't work on ours, and when your name is ladydi you need the "D".

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do you do this?

Do you take perfectly good recipes and change them so much that you barely recognize them? And then your family says how much they like it but you can't remember what you did? That happens to me all the time. I was going to make pumpkin muffins, but the whole pouring the batter into separate cups, and then washing the muffin pan with cooked on batter on the edges, seemed like way too much work. Especially for something we are just going to eat. So I made pumpkin bread. I am going to try really hard to remember what I did, and share it with you. This pumpkin bread is the best!

Pumpkin Bread

3/4 cup cooking oil
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (or of course you can cook your own)

2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
chopped walnuts (I have no idea how much - maybe 3/4 cup)
raisins (whatever was left in the box - maybe 1/2 cup)

Blend dry ingredients with wire whisk. Blend moist ingredients with a spoon, then stir into blended dry ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees F in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan for an undetermined amount of time (about 40 minutes) until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Try not to burn your tongue on the raisins by eating it straight out of the oven.

Though I am not complaining, I must say that I have had a very strange week. I feel as though all I did was go to work, come home, and go back again. Which is exactly what I did. Someone is out sick but we are not allowed to work (or at least get paid for) overtime. I worked a split shift where I went to work in the morning, came home, went back in the evening, came home, went back in the morning, came home, went back in the evening, etc. Of course afternoons off are very nice, but you can't truly relax knowing you just have to get back out there and do it all again. I never slept well, coming home after 10 pm, and being back on the job at 7:30 am. I hope next week will be more normal. I made soup and pumpkin bread yesterday between shifts.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I love leaves! I love them in the spring when they're new and green. I love them all summer when they offer shade on a hot day. I especially love them in the fall when they turn yellow, orange, red, and brown. I love when they go dancing down the street in swirls, and make a satisfying crunch underfoot.

I love to rake leaves, too. We compost them behind our garage. A massive pile in the fall gets rained on and snowed on, and by spring, is just a little mound waiting to become useful garden soil.

When I was a child we had a big stone wall along the hill in the side yard, which extended into the neighbors yard as well. The wall was part of FDR's work program during the Depression, and we kids had more fun than you can imagine. It was built into a hill, and was wide, 12-15 inches across and ranging from about 5 feet high at the lowest point to maybe 10 feet high at the highest point. It had steps 6-8 feet apart, making it interesting for games of all sorts. In the summer we sat on it, dangling our legs over the side, and sometimes daringly jumping off. We walked along the edge, pretending we were circus performers on the tightrope.

The best fun of all was leaf raking season. We gathered all the leaves from the yard and made a big pile at the bottom of the wall. We leaped off - swoop - into the pile, then climbed back up and did it all over again. An afternoon of five or six kids doing that left the leaves in crumbs, and kids covered in leaves from head to toe. Great memories!

Sometimes we drive by that house and yard with so many of my childhood memories. The wall is still there, and we even got to go inside the house a few years ago. I hadn't been inside since our family moved in 1975. The community was having a garage sale, and the family who lived there participated. We went, and mentioned that I had grown up in that house. Well! The people who live there now could not have been nicer. They invited us inside and gave us a tour. They showed us the pantry door where my mom had recorded our heights as we grew up. They had refinished the door, but preserved those markings. Such kindness brought tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Do you interrupt someone who is diligently practicing Irish songs in preparation for a gig next month, so he can try on his new socks for a blogger photo shoot?
Or do you just try them on yourself? These socks were great therapy - they got me through Larry's emergency room and short hospital stay, a bad day my mom was having, and a really bad weekend at work. I wish I had renewed my interest in knitting years ago! It's VERY therapeutic.
Now I'm back to knitting snowmen, which is where I started in January. These size six needles seem huge after using size 2 on the four socks it took me 4 and a half months to knit. It's amazing how much faster the project goes with heavier yarn and larger needles. We have some friends who are retiring and moving to sunny Florida. When trying to think of a suitable gift, snowmen came to mind. Choosing hats and scarves for them is going to be fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What color is it?

I started organizing my fabric by color. It seemed like a good idea, except sometimes it's hard to figure out what color something is. Is it blue? Or green?Is it brown?
I finally decided to have a separate container for the fabrics that have a theme, like dogs, frogs, ducks, horses, chickens, etc.
I can't wait to use this stone fabric - I have a plan!
I like these clear boxes so I can see what colors are in them. I have all shades of red and pink in one box.
Brown, yellow, orange, and cream are in another box.

I have a box for blues and one for greens, and one for black, white, and gray, and even a small box for purple and lavender. It was fun to handle all my fabric. The only problem now is finding a place for all those boxes. :0) A very nice problem to have!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We felt like idiots!

Larry and I visited lovely Brandywine Falls last weekend. Although it is just seven miles from our home, we only get there once or twice a year. There are some lovely hiking trails which we enjoy. People from all over the world come here, as there is a youth hostel within the park. We saw cars with license plates from Maryland, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
The trails can be a bit confusing, so at one point when we weren't quite sure of our bearings, we asked two young men if they knew which direction we should take.
With very heavy accents they told us if we followed this path we wouldn't get lost. They were probably visiting from Austria or Poland or somewhere, and here we ignorant locals were asking them for directions. "If anyone asks," Larry said, "we're from Wisconsin." LOL!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paper Piecing

Someday I'd like to make this cornucopia a bit larger. It contains 36 pieces (or maybe 37) and is 9 by 12 centimeters (3 1/2 by 4 3/4 inches). The apple leaf is about 1/4". I must say I was pleased to have some grape fabric on hand!
Mr. Turkey still needs someone to sew on his beady little eye.
I probably should have chosen a pattern with larger pieces for my first paper piecing project. The turkey alone has 37 pieces, and it only measures 2 3/4" by 5 3/4" .
I rarely use patterns, and when I do, I don't usually follow the color guides. But this wall hanging came out looking much like the pattern!
This is the back. Removing the tissue paper after it had been stitched down in so many places was a royal pain. (so I left some of it - my bad.)
This gives you an idea of the process. I had to use fabric pieces much larger than the finished piece, such as the apple stem, and it seemed like an awful waste of fabric. It is not a method I'm likely to try again anytime soon, but it was kind of fun. Sort of like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The glory of October

October has plenty of charm, even if the colors aren't as vibrant as they are in July. The hydrangea has a rosy color that is lovely.Homemade applesauce is tasty, and the apples have been excellent this year.
I wish you could see how beautiful these orange berries are - the color didn't come out nearly as bright as they actually are. Unfortunately they aren't edible, and I don't think the birds eat them either, or there wouldn't be this many!
The leaves are turning yellow, orange, red, and brown, and we try hard to enjoy the delights of October without lamenting that winter is coming.
Life has been too busy to get much crafting done, but it is great to have time to play outside. Larry and I walked down to the field at the end of the street and played trac-ball a week or so ago. It was such fun, and made me feel about 7 years old.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Did you ever have the kind of day where so many things went wrong that you stopped counting? But the people who helped you deal with it all were so helpful and funny that it didn't seem so bad after all? And then you got to come home early and sit in the sun and knit? That's the kind of day I had.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Generation gap. . .

or gender gap? "Someone" needed a notebook. He drove to the store, using perhaps 50 cents worth of gas to get there and back. He selected his notebook from the clearance rack and took it to the checkout. He never carries cash, just uses his debit card for all purchases. Even when the purchase is for THREE CENTS!
For those who are not familiar with our monetary system, three cents is like giving it away for free. Printing the receipt probably cost more than three cents, not to mention the cashier's time.

This person of whom I'm speaking has change in his car. You know, the odd quarter, nickel, dime, and yes, a few pennies. But he was at the checkout, the change was in the car, he had the notebook in hand, and just wanted to continue on his way.

Does this signify a generation gap, or gender gap? Both. I don't even have a debit card, but I do have a purse which always has at least three cents in it. :>}

(But if I found notebooks for three cents you can be assured I would have purchased more than one!)