Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Looking ahead to a good year in 2012. My resolution this year is to USE my vacation time from work. I was so busy this past year I only took a few days of vacation time, and though getting paid for the unused time is nice (hello, yarn store!), time off is nicer still.

Let's face it, I'm not irreplaceable - they can get along without me for a couple of weeks!

I always enjoy reading the newspaper recaps of the year, so I thought I'd share some of mine with you.

As you no doubt noticed, I have done far fewer blog posts than in past years, and less sewing as well. My life at work has been particularly busy. We are gradually switching to electronic medical records. Once the process is complete, life should get easier. For now it is anything but easy!

As we retire old paper records to be shredded, we find that though one piece of paper barely weighs anything, hauling armloads of paper up the stairs is a good workout. You can't believe how much paper I have handled this year! And that's not the hard part. All this change is mentally challenging.

Though I haven't had much sewing time, I can always find a few minutes here and there to knit, and have made quite a few pairs of socks. Only one pair has fallen victim to second sock syndrome, and remains unfinished. The yellow lace socks take a lot of concentration and my knitting time is pretty distracted. I feel good that I can turn a sock heel while participating in a conversation and having a cat on my lap. Knitting lace is another matter.

We are happy to have taken care of some major home improvements this year. Our part of the world has exceeded all records for rainfall since record keeping began, by over a foot of rain more than any other year. The water damage to our roof and porch were what prompted these tasks, and it's very nice to have a dry house during all the rain.

I finally found a raincoat - yay! It is pretty and purple, and makes me look remarkably like a 55 year old woman. I don't feel like a 55 year old woman, but the calendar doesn't lie.

Larry and I so enjoyed the three days we spent in Saugituck, Michigan again this year. We loved walking barefoot in the water along the lake shore for miles and miles. Forgetting to take the camera was kind of a blessing - it was nice not to worry about it getting wet or damaged. Climbing to the top of Mount Baldhead (the largest sand dune in the area) by way of 300 stairs was very cool, and skittering down the other side was a blast! We give thanks that our aging bodies allow us to enjoy these activities which make life such fun for us.

Wishing all the best to you and yours for a happy and healthy 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Keeping it off - what works for me.

Have you ever said to yourself, "My pants are getting tight. They must have shrunk in the wash." Or walked by a mirror in a department store and thought, "That mirror makes me look fat, it must be at an odd angle." Or caught a glimpse of a fat person walking toward you, and it turned out to be your own reflection in a shop window?

Or - and this was perhaps the worst - given your spouse a hug and he said, "We're quite an armful." Realizing how it sounded, he continued, "I said we, that means both of us.

That was what did it. I wanted no part of being "quite an armful". The pants didn't shrink. After being washed once a week for a year, did I really think they were going to shrink now? The department store mirror wasn't lying. It was my own friendly mirror at home that lied. It never caught me by surprise - I knew just how to stand in front of it to look less fat.

So what to do now? I had dieted lots of times, successfully, if a temporary weight loss can be considered successful. I had done Weight Watchers, gleefully reaching my goal weight. I had kept a food journal, also successfully reaching my goal. What happened next was the problem.

"Oh good! I've finished my diet." were the worst words I could have uttered. The old habits came back gradually until I had gained all the weight I had lost, and more. My healthy weight at 5' 7" is 130 pounds. My "armful" weight was 178 pounds. 48 pounds from a couple of years of bad habits. 48 pounds! One stick of butter is a quarter of a pound. Doing the math, it comes to the amount of fat in 192 sticks of butter spread out over my body! I could see three of them dangling from my upper arm, and I don't like to think of the 12 or 15 around each thigh. That unattractive double chin contained several tablespoons of fat.

I knew how to lose weight; I'd done it before. I needed to find a way to keep it off.

I know myself pretty well, having had 55 years to get acquainted. I know I'm not good at groups. I can always think of a reason to stay home. I'm also on a tight budget, and groups nearly always come with a price.

I did need a few tools, starting with a food journal. Not a 98 cent steno notebook where it's too easy to rip out a page when I've had a piggy day. I use a bound journal, and my first one (this time around) was a lovely dark green suede book with lined pages. I couldn't waste that beautiful book even if I did eat six cookies in one day.

I write down every meal, every snack, every sip of anything that isn't water. These days it is easier than ever to keep an accurate food journal. Every packaged food you buy comes with the nutrition information right on the bag, box, can, jar, or bottle.

I started out interested only in calories. You read those labels often enough, and you start noticing other things: sugar, sodium, carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and US RDA.

When you see the lovely display in the produce section of your favorite food store it all looks and smells so good. Beautiful mounds of oranges, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pineapples, grapes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and more. These are really food! They don't come in packages with labels saying one orange has 89 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 100 mg of vitamin C, 69 mg of calcium (really? in an orange? who knew?) and 330 mg of potassium. That information is all available online, but I use my very favorite cookbook of all time, LAUREL'S KITCHEN by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey.

My copy was a gift from Larry (you know, the "armful" guy) for our very first Christmas as a married couple, in 1980. It is a vegetarian cookbook, and though we are not vegetarians, I use it all the time, mainly for the nutrition tables in the back of the book.

It tells me that a peach (if God made something better than a peach, he kept it for Himself!) is 38 calories. A peach! Juicy and delicious and only 38 calories. It contains 1300 iu of vitamin A, 200 mg of potassium, and even has 9 mg of calcium. You can really get caught up in those nutrition tables.

Of course we all know that part of God's grace is variety, and not every peach is 38 calories, any more than every sweet potato is 160 calories. To get an accurate count you need a food scale that measures in both grams and ounces. I bought mine online for about $20.

When we have sweet potatoes, spinach, and cottage cheese for dinner, I love to share with my family that these colorful and tasty vegetables we are eating are powerful foods, not to mention a very easy dinner to prepare.

I'll share more another time. This is how I lost 48 pounds, and have been able to keep it off for a few years. The bad news? It didn't happen overnight. The good news? It works! The reason I'm sharing? It's 3:00 in the morning and I woke up hungry. I could hear a corn muffin calling from the kitchen. I diligently wrote it down, bringing to mind the question - which day do you write middle of the night eating in? If it's after midnight I go with the next day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Blessings!

Wishing all the best to you and yours as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!
I give thanks for my wonderful family. Here is a photo I took last Sunday when my brother, Peter, and I were visiting our mom. Peter and I have seen more of one another in the last year than in all the previous 30 years put together.
God's handiwork often inspires photography! I love when I see that Suzanne, all the way on the other side of the world, is inspired to photograph the sky the same day I am!
So far I've made 29 bibs for the patients who need them at the nursing home where my mom lives. This one is my favorite!

Wishing all the blessings of this wonderful (and busy!) season to you and yours. I'll be knitting socks and finishing up a few sewing projects.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Warm fuzzies

Aren't these the funniest mittens? The procedure is called "thrumming" and you just knit some roving (unspun wool) into your mittens at intervals, leaving it poofy on the inside for added warmth. I wore them for the first time today, and my hands were cozy warm. They are far from perfect, but I like them just the way they are. Warm!
When we walked Mom to the dining room on Sunday evening, they were temporarily out of bibs. The tired old striped terry bibs with worn edges were all in the wash, which gave me a splendid idea. I happen to have a bit of fabric on hand, so I decided to make 45 bibs for the patients in the memory unit.
When WalMart was closing their fabric department a year and a half ago, they were selling it all for 75 percent off. I had no idea what I would do with horse fabric; I may have been thinking of another I Spy quilt. It makes a nice bib!
This is printed quilt hexagons, looking for all the world like someone painstakingly pieced them. I'll have more to show you soon. I have some excellent rooster fabric I'm going to use next.
We inherited three Christmas cactuses from a friend who died, and we already had the one I show every year. This is the first to bloom - such beauty!
Wishing you the best, as always.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

Here we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving 2012. I love the spirit of dedicating a holiday to being thankful, and I am ever so thankful for my family, our home, my job, and the way our needs are graciously met at every turn. (And you - my blog friends!)
I am thankful that my mom is well cared for. I am thankful for all the things she taught me over the years. This year I have been especially thankful that she taught me how to knit( some 47 years ago). Visiting with her is difficult, since she has no short term memory, and tends to say the same thing or ask the same question countless times throughout a visit. Reading aloud helps a lot, as does having a knitting project to work on and talk about.
Since this holiday of thanks involves a lot of food preparation, I am delighted that I had a day off today to get some things ready. Our office is closed on Sundays, so I started yesterday, before going to visit my mom. I made two kinds of rolls, which are nestled in the freezer, ready for the big day. Today I roasted the turkey, sliced it, and it is also tucked into the freezer. A ham is sliced and ready as well.
I made applesauce and orange cranberry relish today, and just have a few things to do on Thursday. I will be working tomorrow and Wednesday, so I'm thankful for the freezer!
It's one meal I tell myself, and lots of people do it all in one day. I will never again try to cook a turkey the day I plan to serve it. The cookbook says to allow 15-20 minutes of roasting time per pound. Five minutes difference isn't much when you're cooking one pound, but when you multiply it by 14, that's 70 minutes of leeway. Over an hour! Years ago I would optimistically read the instructions and do the math, and have a turkey that was either ready an hour before everything else, or an hour and a half afterwards. I resolved to cook it ahead of time or not at all, and this works well for me. I am a do-it-ahead-when-possible kind of gal.
I wish the best to you and yours during this season of giving thanks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The thing I do worst.

Mmmm. . . the Sweet Alyssum have a delightful fragrance, and are still blooming as though it were summer.
Every Sunday afternoon my brother and I visit our mom. He has watched me knit many pairs of socks, so I decided to make a pair for him. Nice chocolate colored socks.
One of my co-workers had a birthday, so I made this charming cat pillow for her.
It is hard to believe that this will ever look like
this, but it's supposed to. I'll keep you posted.
The thing I do worst is shop. I have told you many times that the only way I like to shop is if I can walk to the store. Then I at least have the fun of walking to take away the pain of shopping. Last year you lived through my raincoat saga with me. That same raincoat is one year older and more decrepit this year. I went to a store with the word "coat" in the name (as in Burlington Coat Factory) . Do you think they had raincoats? No, but I did buy a small vacuum cleaner. The cashier asked if I found everything I needed. "I was looking for a raincoat," I told her.
" Well, at least you didn't leave empty handed," she said. (I didn't say "thank you for your help."
The next store I went to has clothes and coats and shoes, so I asked about raincoats. The saleswoman looked surprised, and said, "We don't have raincoats," as though I had asked if they had fishing bait. Excuse me! I live in Northeast Ohio. It rains here. It rains so much that this year we surpassed the all time record high rainfall for the area since the time anyone has kept records for such things. If you like to walk, you need a raincoat. The twelve year old one is all very well for just walking, but many of our walks go among civilized people.
So I ordered one from a catalog. When it arrived someone near and dear to me said, "Is there a reason you ordered that color? Is it supposed to be that long?" I didn't like it either, so I sent it back.
The third try should be the charm, don't you think? I just ordered a different one. Different color, different length, and four inside pockets. We'll see.
Hey - it's the weekend! Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Early Fall Colors

We've been doing some home improvements this year, and we finally replaced our fifty year old kitchen counters. I miss the white counter tops; honestly, you could lose a rubber band or a penny on this color, but it is very pretty, and looks just like autumn.
The cabinet under the sink was worn out beyond ugly, from fifty years of someone standing in front of it washing dishes, and fifty years of occasional water leaks inside it. I love the new look!
Even though summer is over, the begonias are looking very nice.
These should go well with Larry's dark orange flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants. He loves his hand knit socks, even when they're a little - uh - colorful.
I went to Hobby Lobby for more sock yarn, and couldn't pass up this cute little bundle of fat quarters. I do appreciate the way they look like a lovely gift! (A fat quarter is a quarter yard cut the "fat way" rather than a linear quarter yard. It measures 22"x 18")
Larry went to buy a new winter cover for our pool. The salesman said, "We have good, better, and best!" Larry, having replaced many covers in 15 years said, "You mean crappy, mediocre, or may-last-two-years?" He bought the one that may last two years. It's always a sad day when we close the pool for the season.
The purple quilted purse I made three years ago was worn out, so I used some light brown upholstery suede to make a new one, with a tote bag to match. I do not travel light!
The days have started getting shorter, but autumn is really a lovely time of year much of the time. I won't mention that it's been just like November today, with 50 degrees F and rain.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Doings

Our house is having a big birthday this year. It is 50 years old! We have spent the whole summer celebrating. We gave it a nice new roof, complete with new chimney and dryer vent. Woo-hoo!

Socks for party favors (of course).

Every birthday needs some flowers.
A lovely new drain system.
I hope all these tender expressions of our affection show our house how much we love it!
And that's not all! Stay tuned for the inside work to be completed soon. . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I can tell I'm getting old. I spend Saturday nights sitting outside knitting and watching the flowers grow. These hibuscus flowers are as large as dinner plates. If you scroll back, I show these every year - they are magnificent.Each blossom blooms in miraculous glory for one day, then it withers and falls to the ground. Mother Nature really outdoes herself with these.

We have red ones, too! I have seen them in white and yellow as well.

We really can watch the sunflowers grow and change. They start out as a bundle of green leaves. The lovely yellow petals unfold from the center, then the middle portion, looking so much like a spirograph drawing, starts opening from the outer edge, sending lots of pollen for the bees to wallow in.

We store up the memories of all this glorious color for the winter when the world seems black and white for about four months.

Even if we never get a pumpkin, the yellow blossoms give the side of the house a cheerful look.

I hope your summer is full of miracles, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Days

We are having a delightful summer! Larry and I went back to Saugituck, Michigan for three days, and had an even better time than last year. If only we hadn't forgotten our camera. LOL! My sister, Sara, came for a few days, and we made her grandson a pair of little man socks. It was such fun to knit alongside my sister.

Loving the beautiful colors of summer.

These are Sara's birthday socks. It's been an incredibly hot summer, but she'll enjoy them in a few months.

Our brother, Peter, joined us for dinner one evening. Sara and I were knitting like crazy that evening, because she was leaving the next day and we wanted to finish the socks. Luckily Peter is used to conversing with females who can knit and talk at the same time. We were sorry our sister Janet couldn't be there to knit and chat, but she lives a long way away, and travel is expensive.

I hope you, too, are enjoying the season. Of course for some of you it's winter, but winter in Australia looks a lot like summer here!

Our pool reached it's all time 15 year high temperature of 85 degrees! Pretty sweet.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Do you ever watch those backyard makeover shows on TV? They're pretty inspiring! Somewhere we have a photo of what the side of our garage looked like before Larry decided a makeover was long overdue. Both windows had been victims of errant baseballs, and were covered with plywood. The small deck you see was a tree house Larry made for the boys about twenty years ago. We lost the tree that made it a treehouse in a storm several years ago, but it's a nice sturdy deck. The raccoons and squirrels use it all the time. Underneath was an accumulation of old bricks, flower pots, leftover topsoil, and a big ugly retired pool cover. It will be even prettier when the tiny seedlings are all abloom. Thanks, Larry! We love swimming around in circles and admiring the hanging baskets of flowers as we go by.

If we can't grow a pumpkin this year we're pretty pathetic. Look at all these blossoms! You've been reading our (non) pumpkin saga for several seasons now.

Another pair of socks in the works. I have worked 98 hours in the last two weeks, so progress is slow. My reward is. . . the next six days off! Woohoo!

Wishing joy to you and yours.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Something new!

I hadn't tried dying anything since I was in high school. I was visiting and saw several references to using Kool-Aid to dye yarn, so I thought I'd give it a try. The Dollar General Store had their drink mixes priced at 10 for $1. Unfortunately they only had red and orange, which actually worked out really well since I'm always trying to find the perfect sunrise color. One ball of yellow yarn (many thanks, Ginny!) and two packages of drink mix produced some lovely hand dyed yarn. Who-hoo!

It is a surprising process to watch. The yarn sucks the color right out of the water, and you are left with completely clear water! If I do it again, I think I will knit the item first and then dye it. It was hard to keep the yarn from getting tangled. The posts did mention that you have to unwind the ball first, or the inner yarn won't be able to absorb the dye.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I love June! I love the long daylight hours and watching things grow. Look - I found some socks growing! I am loving knitting lace socks in Ginny's yellow yarn. Thank you, Ginny! I also used it for a stripe and the toe of Larry's new socks. It knits up so nicely. Knitting a lace pattern is lots of fun, but I can only do it when I have time to pay close attention to what I am doing. "Plain vanilla socks" (as the calls them) is for when I'm visiting my mom or watching Jeopardy! with my family.

We're optimistically trying to grow pumpkins again. This year we planted them in full sun, hoping we may actually get a pumpkin this year. We have always gotten lovely greenery and gorgeous flowers, but never a pumpkin. The raspberries are looking good. My dad gave us our raspberry bushes several years ago, and it's fun to remember his gift of growing things long after he has gone.

It's swimming season again! In case you don't see much of me this summer, please know that I am happily occupied with all the joys of summer (and the usual 40 hour work week :>}

Wishing you, my blog friends, all the best!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Remember Bobby?

In January 2009 so many very talented people sold their marvelous crafts for the Australian bush fire relief fund. I bought Bobby from the very talented Rachel Slater and told myself that someday I would learn how to do something like that.

Rachel's Bobby is on the right. We used the same pattern, but different weights of yarn and sizes of needles, which is why mine came out so much larger. The pattern said to use "oddments" of yarn, and I had no gray oddments, so I used gold for the buckle, buttons, and badge. Yarns and needles have different definitions in different countries, which makes it a bit confusing when the internet makes it so easy to shop internationally. Oh, but I am so glad it does! Fifteen years ago I wouldn't have had any idea how to search for a pattern for an English Bobby. Thanks to Google and Jean Greenhowe I was able to find the pattern right away.

The next Bobby I make will be the smaller size, but I am very pleased with my first attempt. It's not as cute as Rachel's, and the head looks kind of blobby, but I find the badge on his hat very charming.

My reintroduction to knitting started in January 2010 and I've enjoyed it ever so much. I have a lot of people to thank for this, starting with my mom who first taught me how to knit when I was seven years old. Suzanne and her mum sparked my interest when they sent me an adorable Aussie koala, baby sweater and booties, and darling doll, all knitted by Sue's mum. Then there were all the blogs with hand knit socks - Lucy Locket is an amazing knitter! And Lisa Boyer, quilter extraordinaire, was knitting socks, mittens, hats, and sweaters when she wasn't quilting. Ginny has made the most gorgeous shawls you've ever seen. Her daughters fight over who gets to wear them.

I found myself needing a quiet portable project for visiting my mom, and the knitting began. First the snowmen, then a pig, a cat, and two bunnies. I tried a hat; the first time something had to be a particular size. Then the socks - seven pairs! Now Bobby, and then back to more socks. My first sweater is going to be doll sized. This is fun!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Still here. . .

My nephew once wrote me a thank you note, and the subject line said, "Not dead yet." As you can imagine, it was a rather belated thank you note.

That's how I feel. I'm not dead, just busy.

And it's spring! It's hard to do things inside when the sun is shining and you can finally go outside in shorts and sandals. We wait all year for this - ahhhhh. . .

I'm taking my knitting outside. It's a fun project, but not blog ready just yet.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


In an unusual display of scientific inquiry, the Martin family has pursued the ruins of past life. Instead of the customary procedure of digging down, they chose to dig upward, to the attic, in fact.
The study of dinosaurs has always been a topic of hot debate among the Martins. The skeptic among them (that would be me) feels that it is quite ridiculous to find two or three bone fragments and fit them into an enormous skeleton, bestow skin type and color, assign eating habits and child rearing techniques, and have school children memorize these "facts".

In the same spirit, the above pictured creature was a lover of cheetos - or perhaps carrots - judging by the color of his hands and feet. He ate a lot of dum dum suckers, as evidenced by his tongue. He had access to excellent dental care, as his teeth managed to remain so very white in spite of his poor eating habits.

Cute, isn't he? I made him for David when he was in kindergarten (18 years ago!), and found him in the attic this week.