Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Scary Halloween Adventure

As you can see, we went all out on the Halloween decorations.

This creature's hand suddenly came up from the inside of this chair! It was all creepy and wiggly and very scary! Someone stabbed it with a stick, and it stopped moving.

Then there were these two very frightening Church Ladies. They tried to push candy and cookies and sticks dipped in chocolate on us, but you just never know what might really be inside those things. One can never be too careful.

I spent my Halloween afternoon watching the Vikings football game (scary enough right there) while knitting a sock. The sock is for this one-legged monster that I know.......

And the evening just got worse as monsters and ghosts and baseball players rang our doorbell and demanded that we hand over candy. Luckily, we had plenty of candy on hand, and they even liked it. Whew! I'm glad I survived.. it was really a horrific day and night. It didn't stop 'til we turned off all the lights, including our electric jack-o-lantern. Weird.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sewing with my Son

This week my son called and asked if he could use my sewing machine and if I would like to go with him to a fabric store. I said YES to both. He picked out some fabric to make curtains for his and DIL's apartment. Then we came back to my house and sewed. I have my mom's FW here, so I set it up across from Son, and we had our own little sewing retreat. I loved it! He's such a free spirit and an interesting and nice young man. I loved hanging out with him. His curtains turned out great (and DIL approves)! First set is for the bedroom.

We get to do it again some time, because he still has living room curtains to make. Yay! Another fun visit to look forward to.

I'm thankful for:
1) time with my son
2) good books and time to sit and read them
3) sunshine today after some cold and cloudy days
4) weekends!
5) a full, busy, and happy life

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Very Bizarre

I made a few things for our annual church bazaar. It's really rather small, and most people just buy the baked goods. I'm not a super-baker, so I try to create stuff, and it's always a challenge to come up with ideas. Every year I think, "I'll plan ahead and think of some good things that will sell (must be cheap, must be clever, must be useful and attractive), and I will make them way ahead of time, so I'm not scrambling at the last minute." Well, you know I have not yet achieved any of those goals. As usual, I was scrambling at the last minute this year.

This wall hanging was made a year ago but finished this week... it was my practice piece for the altar cloths for which I improved the design and which I completed last year. I thought someone might like to have this look-alike piece, but it didn't sell.

Dish cloths.. these sold, along with six others that I gave to a friend a few days ahead of time. This was my big selling item.

28 home-made cards! I was kind of proud of these! Not one sold.

Three hats.. only the white one sold. It was the poorest construction and had the biggest "holes" that I thought would make it not very warm. Go figure.

Three scarves. None sold.

A couple of my last-minute pot holders sold. I really should make some more attractive and better color ones for next year.

Well, live and learn. Or not. I'm not sure what I'll do for next year's bazaar. Maybe I'll start planning now and get stuff ready way ahead of time.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Old New Girl Scout

Back when I was a kid, I was in Brownies, and then I became a Junior Girl Scout... for a short time. I quit and never missed it.... but there's a question in the air: what did I miss out on? Would I enjoy learning some of the things I could have learned? Would they be fun to learn now, as an Old Lady?

The answer might be yes! Therefore, I might take up Girl Scouts again, but in a new way, designed for an Old Lady like me. Take a look at this:

To mark her 50th birthday, Jean is launching a 3-year project to work on and collect 100 Girl Scout badges. They'll have to be re-designed as necessary. For example, she suggests that "becoming a teen" might be changed to "becoming menopausal." For me that might have to be changed even more.. "becoming pre-octegenarian" or something.

Anyway, I'm going to consider taking this on as a fun thing to work toward during retirement. Check it out and see if it's something you would like to do, too! Click on the words "take a look at this" (above) and it should take you to the blog where everything is explained.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Normal

Hooray!! I got my friendly sewing machine back Friday evening. It's lovely and clean and purrs like a kitten. I did a lot of sewing on Saturday and Sunday, on one project that I'm not showing you yet. (Some of you may have seen it on another list, but for the rest of you, it's a secret, simply because I want to think about it more before I finish it. Hold your horses, OK? You may not even like it.)

I also got some knitting done. Worked some more on my first-ever sock which is going well. And I made another dish cloth. A friend wants to buy some from me. I had these ready for my church bazaar this next Wednesday, but I decided to let her buy them early. The money will still go to the bazaar which ultimately is for global mission work.

And... ta-da! ... I am finally an official substitute interpreter in my old school district and have done a few hours work. I've worked a few random meetings, two hours here, two hours there. I love having a bit of work, keeping my fingers in the field, so to speak, and also love the ability to say no. I am in the process of being approved to be a substitute special ed assistant in a neighboring school district. I'm happy that I have a few skills that allow me to work on an occasional basis when I want to. This retirement gig is great!

On previous posts I forgot that I had re-instituted my gratefulness list. Today I remembered.

I'm thankful for:
1) skills that I can still use in this economy and that keep me employed to the extent that I want.
2) gorgeous fall weather; we have been utterly spoiled this year.
3) great books (book group is currently reading Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and I'm loving it).
4) a repaired and smooth-running sewing machine.
5) friends... a new friend passed away this week; I'm sad I didn't have a chance to get to know her better, but lucky I met her at all... and other friends in my life who inspire and challenge me. I'm so blessed!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Learning to Knit Socks

I finally checked out You Tube for some beginning lessons in knitting socks, and I got started. I'm having fun! I have detailed written instructions, too, and I'll refer to those when I get to the heel part. I needed a visual to get me started, and it's going well (I think). It's fun, anyway.

Today has been a glorious, gorgeous, beautiful fall day! I just had to go out and do some walking around and photographing some of the beauty. Isn't fall the best??

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Knitting Giraffe

My sewing machine is still in the shop and is going to need a new part, and I have no idea how much time for the fix... I miss it! I borrowed my mother's machine but it can't handle the machine quilting I was in the middle of when the sewing disaster happened.

So, I bet you didn't know a giraffe could knit, did you?? Well, I can! And I have been using my time to try to finish up some knitting projects.

This is a hat that should fit a 9-10 year old. That is why it doesn't fit the doll head. If it had fit the doll, I would have been very discouraged with my poor knitting abilities.

This is a scarf I started ages ago with some leftover yarn. Unfortunately, I didn't really have enough yarn to make a very long scarf. I am hoping some small person will get this scarf and find it to be just the right length.

This is a baby blanket. It is made of wool. I was hoping to send it to Afghans for Afghans, but I don't think it will meet the size criteria they gave us. I started it before I knew the size restrictions. I'm a slow knitter, though. Maybe by the time I finally finish this thing, they'll be asking for smaller blankets. I hope so. Most people around here would not jump at the chance at a wool baby blanket, but for the Afghans project, that is what they want.

I really want to learn how to knit mittens and socks! One of these days, I'll find a way to learn those skills. Meanwhile, I can putz along on my current projects and hope that my sewing machine comes home soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Missing My Machine

My Pfaffie is in the shop... the woman in the shop was able to extract my quilt quite easily. That gave me hope that the problem is not serious and that a simple tune-up will do the trick. I had to just leave my machine and wait for a phone call from the repair person... when, I have no idea.

I dropped by church and picked up my old machine that I had left there. I had to pull out the manual to help me remember how to thread the thing and how it works. I think someone had used it, and had left it in bad shape. I monkeyed with it and got it running, but I couldn't get the tension set no matter what I tried.. so I gave up.

Now I have no machine, and it is amazing how unsettling that is. I barely know what to do with myself. I've been able to work on my knitting ... I'm almost done with a hat ... but I sure miss sewing!

Last night I attended this outdoor wedding. I have promised the happy couple a quilt, so my Pfaffie better come back home soon. I need to get busy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sewing Machine Wreck

Disaster! I was machine quilting... in fact, I finished two quilts, both of which went quite smoothly. Then the third was full of problems. The thread wasn't cooperating, the darning foot fell off a couple times, and finally the foot fell off again, and there was a loud, wrenching noise, and everything stopped. The needle is stuck down, very deep into the fabric. If I turn on the machine and try any sort of remedial steps, the engine grinds loudly. I'm going to have to haul the whole mess into the shop.

I'm nervous about the outcome of this wreck. I love my Pfaffie!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Plays With Fabric

I've been having a lot of fun playing with fabric. Lately I have been making crumb blocks (scrap blocks) by the zillion. I have even noticed the smallest dent in my scrap bins. (If you don't already know this, scraps multiply overnight, so to see a dent in the supply is quite miraculous.)

I am working on blue scraps with yellow slashes.. just free piecing and free slashing, and it's fun to work with no rules. This is what I have so far. I'm not sure how it will finish itself. It has not yet communicated its final design to my brain. I'm willing to be patient.

Then I have this green and red one in the works. This is a pattern I saw on the internet about ten years ago. I made it once, but not with crumb blocks. What do you think? I rather like it.

In other news, FIL came home from the hospital two days earlier than predicted, and is like a little boy with a new lease on life. He hopped and skipped through the grocery store aisles saying with a smile "they told me to get exercise!" Amazing. It must feel great to come back to good health after being on death's doorstep.

I'm thankful for:
1) seeing the joy of living in my FIL and extended family
2) gorgeous, glorious, amazing fall colors against beautiful blue skies
3) husband who knows how to cheer me up
4) friends whose company cheers me up
5) sewing quilts for the sheer fun and joy of creating

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Father-in-Law's Heart

Father-in-Law (FIL) is 90 years old. He had a deteriorating aortic valve. In July he began a process to apply for a trial heart valve replacement program at Mayo Clinics in Rochester, MN. He had to go to Mayo many times over the last three months for various tests. At first he was told he could not get into the trial program because he was "too healthy." He was disappointed, because he really wanted to avoid open heart surgery if at all possible.

The trial program puts in a replacement heart valve made of cow tissue. It goes in through a vein in the groin and therefore is much less invasive than open heart surgery.

Finally he was accepted into the program and told that he would have his surgery in late October. Meanwhile, his valve begin to deteriorate at an alarming rate. He was getting very sick and weak. He ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure. The doctors were alarmed at his poor health and decided to push his surgery date up.

Surgery took place yesterday, October 8, and the effects were immediate! Right after surgery, FIL looked much better. A couple hours later, he looked supremely better. Ten hours after surgery he declared, "I expected to feel this good in about six weeks."

Because he is part of a trial program, he will stay in the hospital for several days while they complete tests and collect data. He is helping future generations avoid the trauma of open heart surgery. As doctors learn more about this less-invasive option, more of us can look forward to a short stay and a quick recovery from this type of surgery in our later years. Hallelujah!

Mother-in-Law (MIL) has been extremely worried since July and is very thankful that the operation has finally happened. Everyone is thrilled to report that FIL is doing wonderfully and making a speedy recovery. It's like watching a miracle unfold in front of one's own eyes!

(I'm resuming my gratitudes list after a long hiatus.. it helps me to give thought to a thankfulness list and to publicize it. So my thankfulness list is back.)

Today I'm thankful for:
1. medical miracles
2. laughs with family
3. gorgeous autumn colors
4. warm days and sunshine
5. pretty colored yarns (and the ability to knit)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Book Reports

I finished another couple of books:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - Kindle edition. This one is quite popular. A friend told me she stayed awake on a red-eye flight, the only one awake and with her light on, unable to put the book down. She's the reason I bought the book. But I didn't like it that well. The first part is actually rather boring. Then when it starts to get interesting, I didn't like the story. It's gruesome, and I really didn't like most of the characters very well. So... I may be the only one in the world who is not in love with this book, but so it goes. I give it a B-. (BTW, it is translated from Swedish, and there are three books by this author. He died right after getting the three manuscripts to the publisher, so there will be no more from him; sadly for those who love the books. I probably will not read the other two.)

Right after I finished the above book, I picked another one from my list in the Kindle. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. For me, this one was the page turner. I could not put it down. I read the entire book and finished it in one day! This was a story that captivated me, and I loved the main character. She is 15. I did wonder at her maturity... quite far above most 15-year-olds that I have known... but, there are those mature 15-year-olds, and it kind of fit with the quick growing up she'd had to do during her tough early years. It takes place right after the end of WWII, centering on a family of a mom, step-dad, and the daughter. Step-Dad has just returned from the war. They have a lot of experiences that are shaped by the war and its aftermath and also by the pre-war poverty and single-motherhood status in the early years of this family. I recommend this fascinating page-turner that kept me glued to my Kindle all afternoon and evening. A+ (in fact, this book is a 2008 National Book Award winner, young adult category - I really enjoy this genre, apparently! I read them and love them and find out later that they are young adult books.. but old adults can love them, too. I'm proof.)

I still haven't finished the alphabet. I have J and Y left to read. But I've doubled and tripled up on some of the other letters, so I think I've met and surpassed the challenge. It was a lot of fun picking books by the letter with which the title begins! I still sort of do that as I choose which book to read next. I refuse to read them in the alphabetical order in which they appear in my Kindle! That's too boring. I like to mix it up.

What have you read lately that you couldn't put down?

Monday, October 04, 2010

It's a Girl! (30 Years Ago)

a sushi caterpillar

Today, 30 years ago, my first baby was born at 3:23 a.m.! She was a wonderful baby, so interested in people, and so full of energy and happiness. She is still that way now! I can hardly believe she's 30, because I feel like it was me turning 30 just a few years ago. Time sure is funny, isn't it?

Last night we celebrated in a Thai restaurant. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent. When I told them it was my daughter's birthday, they gave her this ice cream tray, free! It has mango ice cream, coconut ice cream, and some other flavors that I couldn't remember two seconds after they were said. On the two ends are flowers made out of grapes. What a place!

I gave daughter a gift inside a gift bag on which I wrote a bunch of things she used to say back in her toddler days. She loved reading it! These are some of her sayings. See if you can figure out what they mean:

ho-hodee dat
fick dis
(in our back yard she used to chase) skeemadoes
I energy!
You're not the boss of me! -- Oh.. I guess the meaning of this one is pretty clear. I found a t-shirt that had the same thing on it.. so I just had to buy it.

Happy 30th birthday, Daughter! Hope you have many, many more.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

It's a Girl!

me at the Twins game.. with grandma-like blue hair and all

Great news! I'm sort of a grandma... but not really. I get to be excited, though! I'll probably never even meet my "granddaughter" in person. But I'm still excited!!

I don't want to intrude on anyone's privacy, so this is the story without specifics. About ten years ago I found, through an organization, a young woman who had just started college and to whom I was asked to send Care Packages. I love doing that, so I sent one. She was very grateful, which was fun, so I sent more. I kept it up during her whole four years of college.

Then she went to graduate school, so I sent more. What grad student doesn't want a Care Package every now and then?

She obtained a master's degree, got a great job, got married, and last Thursday she had a baby girl!!! (The same day I attended the Twins game.) We have never met in person, but we have kept in loose contact. Today I got an e-mailed photo of the super cute baby, so I'm sort of claiming to be a grandma, even though I'm not. Yes, the baby already has a quilt I made.

I'm just thinking... if I ever really get to be a grandma, my grandchild will be spoiled with quilts! Hey, could be worse!