Friday, December 31, 2021

Content Evening


Wishing you, tonight, a content and safe New Year's Eve.  I'm wearing my new Christmas pajama pants, new Christmas socks, and am enjoying this evening.

It wasn't the Christmas we planned.  My precious granddaughter came down with Covid the a few days  before Christmas, and she was sick  Not hospital sick, but sick with fever, headache, and muscle aches, no taste or smell.  Sore throat.

And so, Christmas Eve was transferring gifts and food in the driveway, wearing masks.  Waving to Nora above in her bedroom.  Lots of pictures flying back and forth between the two families.  Last year's Christmas was food and gifts in the back yard - I'm glad I didn't know then what this Christmas would be a similar year.

And so, on this day, I'm so grateful that Nora is feeling better and that no one else in her family has been sick, despite a day's car drive with her.  That my North Carolina family is safely back home. 

Oh, and that the mysterious loud scary sound in the middle of last night turned out to be air in the lines in the furnace.  There was a water main break down the street and the water was shut off.  And that this morning the furnace settled down to running normally just as I was about the call the repair person

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Just Look


Look at the second horizontal bar from the top of the phone booth.  Now look at how it's level with the top of Nora's cheekbones.  And now, look at how it's level with the top of Aaron's cheekbones.  

Probably the last time you'll see that.  Nora is about to be overtaken in height and become the shortest person in her family at 5'9".

It's the 20th of December, you all.  How amazing, how wonderful, how a little scary.  Two days until the winter solstice.  Just two.  And then will begin the miracle of the daylight.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

This Far


I am this far, and happy about it.  Lights on the tree.

One of my undone goals for the year was to make a tree skirt, and that didn't happen.  It's not like I don't have some fabric to drape around.  But still, I usually do pretty well with those goals made in the first weeks of January.  And I have a nice machine embroidery collection just waiting.

A goal for today - get twenty ornaments on the tree.  I know, Christmas will be here in one week.  When you see my tree still decorated in January, know that I'm still enjoying it on the back side instead of the front side this year.

I went out early this morning - there are very few shoppers during the early times.  In and out of two stores, a little success.  The early shoppers tend to wear masks.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Writing for Living

My thoughts this morning turn toward end of life.  I am remembering one of Aaron's coaches, and father of his friend, who just passed away far too young at age 42.  Toward my own parents who died, in different years, in the week before Christmas.

And these past couple of days our attention has turned toward bell hooks' passing and her wisdom and writing.  Many of us have our favorite bell hooks writings that we carry with us, but there are many more to discover.

And so, today or in the days to come, pick up one of her books or google her name and find something for reflection.

My favorite bell hooks quote today is one you may have seen before:  "Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving.  When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape."

I was lucky enough to work at a college where bell hooks taught in her later years, and her affect on students' thinking and growing was tremendous.  Many people there are remembering and missing her.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Book Cover


My  neighbor wanted an adjustable book cover for her grandmother's Christmas gift - the grandmother loves cardinals.  This is what I came up with.  The back flap can tuck into a piece of elastic to fit thicker books, and there is a little extra height to accommodate taller books. I hope both grandmother and granddaughter like it.  Embroidery design from Embroidery Library. 

Last night was Nora's Christmas band concert.  I sat in the back row of the big auditorium, wearing my mask.  Watching people file out afterwards, it looked like other mask wearers sat in the back.  There were empty seats on either side of me.  

The concert was amazing as always, there are three bands in Nora's large high school.  Even though I felt a little strange being with so many people, I was happy to see so much support for the student musicians. 

Good news for me - I had my second shingles vaccine on Monday without significant side effects.  I had heard reports of side effects from the second shot and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was ok.  If you're in the age group, think about getting the shot.  I remember my dad suffering with shingles and it isn't something to take lightly.  After a slow roll-out, the vaccine seems widely available now. 

And I've learned, with all the vaccinations lately, to get the shot in the dominant arm.  I always thought it would be better in the non-dominant arm, but the added arm movement seems to reduce any soreness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

When We Did and Could


Christmas in Cincinnati.  Eight years ago.  Looks like Fountain Square.

When the grands were still young and we went lots of places.  Pre-Covid when we COULD go lots of places.

The grands have one more in-person day before Christmas break.  They were meant to go all week, but there are not enough subs and the last two days have turned into virtual days.  They can sleep in a little before starting their classes.  Teenagers can never have enough sleep.

Yesterday there was a shooting at a near-by Kentucky Kroger store.  A bomb threat in my favorite near-by Ohio outdoor shopping mall.  No one hurt in either place, but still . . .

Monday, December 13, 2021

Cutout Cookies


Cut-out cookies for my church's Community Meal.

My mother was the master of baking cut-out cookies, and she made so many of them.  A batch or two every day leading to Christmas, and she would store them in a cool bedroom upstairs in a blue canner.  She had all the colors of sugars, plus little silver beads and probably a few other little decorations.  And lots of cookie cutters.

My brothers and sister and I got to sample the ones that over-browned, but not the nice ones, until Christmas Eve.

My sister was also good at making the cookies, although she doesn't any more.  But me, I never made nice ones, even though I have my mother's recipe.  Every few years I'd try and every few years they didn't work out.

But this year, I finally realized that I had been substituting margarine for the butter in my mother's recipe and it might be worth trying again.  And here we are, nice little cookies.  And so there are a couple of sticks of butter softening on my counter for more cookie baking.

Over the years I've given awaymost of my cookie cutters, but I still have a few nice copper ones, and a few is all I need.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Happy Seventeenth


Happy seventeenth birthday to Nora, my beloved granddaughter.  Her bassoon is decorated for Christmas.

I said "her" bassoon, but it isn't really, it belongs to the school band program.  Bassoons are very expensive and the students don't usually own them.  Perhaps I need to begin keeping an eye out for a nice used one, with an eye out to her graduation and loss of this instrument.  That is still eighteen months away.

A few years ago I got her a used "step up" trombone, which was a good purchase.  At the Christmas concert this week, she will play bassoon with the Symphonic I band and trombone with the Symphonic II band.  Her school is large and they actually have a third basic band class.

I have hopes that Aaron will take at least that basic band class.  He is more into athletics but he enjoys percussion in his middle school band.  Band class isn't every day and he looks forward to the band days.  

But, Nora's birthday - something I look forward to every year.  Remembering that winter morning seventeen years ago.

Friday, December 10, 2021



There is much sadness at Sarah's and Winnie's house this week as the third little brown dog, P-Nut, passed away.

You may remember that it is so recently that I wrote the news of their dog Milo's passing, and a few months ago, Lucy's.

And now, P-Nut, unexpectedly.  They knew she was a senior dog and her health had been declining, but they had no inkling that Tuesday would be her last day.

Because of her frail back, she wasn't allowed to jump off chairs or beds or porches, anything.  I like to think that now, somewhere, her spirit is jumping off things all day long.  She was one loved little rescued dog in her last years.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Christmas Cactus


The past few years I've neglected my Christmas cactus, but it still bloomed faithfully.  This summer I finally repotted it in Miracle Grow potting soil and then fertilized it every month with Miracle Grow.  Full strength.  Not recommended, but I did it anyway and was rewarded with tremendous growth.

I wasn't sure I would get any buds this year since all the growth went into the plant, but there are a few.  And they are stellar.  Huge.  Once blooming season is finished I'll start fertilizing with half strength Miracle Grow.  No repotting.  And we'll see what happens next year.

And I think I'll get another Christmas cactus this season since it's my favorite.

It's been a busy week.  I'm shortening a sequin jacket and a puffer coat.  If you want it done I can tell you how to do it but I won't do it for you.

But I'm grateful for you tube to help me along.  I would have gone about it completely wrong.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Second Sunday Differences


The second Sunday of Advent.  Peacefulness.  

And a different look of this Sunday:

My Congressman is drawing criticism for tweeting a picture of him and of his family in front of the Christmas tree, each of them holding a gun.  And to make it worse,  at the top it says "Merry Christmas!, ps. Santa, please bring ammo.

I'm not making this up.  What was he thinking?  I'm hanging my head in Kentucky once again.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Plastic Bag Dispenser


Sometimes I miss the big chain fabric store that lived just half a mile down the road.

This was one of those times.  I had a request to make one of those fabric bags for loading plastic grocery bags in the top and taking them one by one as needed from the bottom.  Perfect for this fabric, that I bought at that store down the street.  How do I know?  Because it says so on the selvage.  After this project, I have a yard left.

Lots of things from my stash came from that store.  They had wonderful sales.  And like I've said before, I know what I like and will use.  Sooner or later.

If you want to make one of those bags, google "easy to sew plastic bag dispenser" and chose a tutorial.  The bags are really, really, easy to sew.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Gift of a Warm December Day

Yesterday was one of those gift late fall days - temperature reached 60 degrees.  I had a chance to do some of those tasks that were still waiting.

Finally, I hosed off the floor mats from my car, then put the hose away for winter.  Gathered the little geranium containers whose contents now looked so sad.  Emptied the smaller pots.

Went to the car wash to vacuum.  I don't know why I didn't wash the outside while I was there, but I was on an interior mission.  When I bought my house I didn't think about how street parking, on the other side of the street, meant that there would be no at-home washing or vacuuming.  A tiny inconvenience when so many people sleep on the sidewalk.

Today looks like another nice warm day.  If there are to be outside Christmas lights, this may be the day.  And if I want to expand the back yard garden a little, this may be the day to lay down some cardboard and put top soil on top.  It's called lasagna gardening and I'm a fan.  By summer the ground will be ready for planting.  I'm thinking some small sunflowers and a summer squash rotation.

There are a few hand gardening tools on the back porch to put away, more smaller pots to empty.  Leaves to sweep - again.

I hope everyone has a good day.  Do what you love.  

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Another Favorite


Another Winter Lights favorite.

How long does it take to make ten little drawstring bags for a church Christmas party?  Longer than I thought it might.

And now that they're finished, I can think of a way to improve the pattern.  Maybe next time.  I am happy with the serged edges, those little bags are sturdy.

One of my favorite memories surfaced today.  Ten years ago - ten years! - I was dropping off the grands at their schools.  We dropped first-grade Nora off first.  Four-year-old Aaron watched her go up the sidewalk and into the door, and he said, "She looks so little."  And then he declared, "Read and write, read and write, that's all they do at that school.  I won't be going to that school."

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Quilt Garden

Most days my design wall adds some happy color to my life.  Those are baby quilt blocks on top and the others are blocks from My Favorite Color is Moda.

But it just can't compete with the North Carolina Arboretum quilt garden.  It's one of my favorite features of Winter Lights this year.  (And yes, my hair is blowing in the breeze.)  Colors change too.

There are now twice as many lights at the Winter Lights displays than there were the first yearLast year was drive-through, this year was back to walking and admiring close up.

Yesterday was a task-y day, but finally at the end of it I swept the driveway and porch of leaves before the anticipated rain tomorrow.  Maybe it's the last time for this year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021



Turgua.  A new-to-me brewery in Fairview, North Carolina.  It was just warm enough Sunday afternoon to sit outside.  Lots of beers on tap, with cans of some to bring home.  What's left above is a Bluebird-Blueberry Saison.

(OK, I had to look that up.  Saison beer is a pale ale that is highly carbonated, fruity, spicy.  No wonder I liked it.)  It used to be brewed with low alcohol levels but modern versions have moderate to higher levels.

Out front was a food truck with tamales, rice and beans, and a few other related foods.  Really, really good.  In back are seating areas near a pretty creek.  The building started out as a tractor sales and repair shop, but you'd never guess.

It was a good drive back home yesterday.  The bridge construction area on I-40 near the Tennessee line barely slowed traffic down this time.  The sun shone, the road was dry, perfect.  

Today I'll start back with my little life, but yesterday evening I just enjoyed being home, which isn't to say that I didn't also love the holiday away.  My nice neighbor brought over a couple of packages from Black Friday shopping along with the mail. which wasn't impressive.

Monday, November 29, 2021

This Little One


Returning home, I will miss Thanksgiving time with this little one.  Who doesn't much want to sit with me, or with anyone other than Sarah, as long as Sarah is in the house.  Who isn't allowed to jump down from a chair or bed because of her bad back.  Who misses her two friends.  

Who is reluctant to start eating but then enjoys her food when the first bite is presented on a spoon.  Who may or may not settle down for a good night's sleep.  (Last night was a "not.")  Who is, I think, thirteen until her birthday next month.  A very small rescue, who started out life with Sarah and Winnie as a foster.  Who is very suspicious of men but who grew to love Winnie's dad.

Who used to be apt to snap when she felt someone was in her space, but who no longer has the energy to do much snapping.  And the snapping is kind of missed.  If she snaps, it's a sign that she's having a good day.

Who has the most excellent ears.  Ever.  Yep, that’s P-Nut.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Finding Art


Take a moment to enjoy the wrappers on this bamboo toilet paper.  Because art is where you find it.

Last night we drove through a little town that does Christmas up big.  (You'll notice similar colors to the toilet paper photo.)  Lots of people and decorated stores.

In minor news, I ordered a new printer, not on Black Friday sale.  I've dithered around for months trying to decide which one.  My old one is so old that the software won't work to connect to my laptop, purchased a year ago.  And then when connected to an old laptop it grinds and grinds and takes several times before it finally decides to print, while I hold my breath.  Deciding which one has been the hold up, so confusing.

And so, print only, no copy or scan.  Wireless but also with a usb connection just in case.  Black and white because I never replaced the color cartridge on my old printer.  Fingers crossed.

What I don't like, who knows why - there is a chip on the toner cartridge and when toner gets low a new one is automatically ordered from Amazon.

Another easy and good read, you'll like it:  All the People We Keep

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Jar of Something


At the Artisan Center in Berea, I like to stop for a jar of . . . something . . . from Spring Valley farms.  That something, this time, turned out to be pecan pumpkin butter.  Because it's the season.

Spring Valley Farms are located in southern Kentucky and in Tennessee.  They are owned by a Habegger family.

Habegger is my maiden name and isn't much heard of outside of Swiss Mennonite communities.  I don't know the folks who own these farms, of course, but I always like to buy a jar or their sauces, jams, or relishes because I feel sort of connected.  And their things are delicious.

I've never seen a picture of the farms or the people.  They sell in stores, not from a website.  I know no family history.  Still . . .there can't be that many of us.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Vegan Thanksgiving


Thanks to Winnie and Sarah for a lovely vegan Thanksgiving feast.  All the good veggies and salad plus a gluten free corn pudding and stuffing.  Perfect.

There was just one little brown dog for the festivities and we missed the two who are missing this year.

And a picture from five years ago when P-Nut snagged her own seat at the table.

It's strange to think of the years gone by, when we thought we were old but we were, in fact, young.  In retrospect.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May your day be warm and your gratitude overflowing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Pretty Vegetarian Meal

Vegetarian meal per Winnie.  I can't even tell you all the foods that were in this dish, but it was delicious.  I do know there was squash, cauliflower, and onions.  And Winnie's presentation is always something to look forward to.

Yesterday was a lovely day for travel, white clouds with streaks of blue.  There were some construction delays, which gave me a chance to enjoy the day.

I was thinking of what Nora told me this week, that one of her best traveling memories was when we were on Jellico Mountain in Tennessee and everything came to a standstill.  People got out of their cars and wandered around looking at the scenery, found snacks in their coolers.  One boy got out his skateboard and skated around the parked cars.

Traffic was moving yesterday, just very slowly, and there was time to admire the bare branches against that pretty sky.

And thinking of bare branches, yesterday was the day when my neighbor's tree rained all its leaves.  It's like someone flips a switch and all the leaves come down in one day.  


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Lots of Dots


On Sundays my quilt shop posts pictures of fabrics that have between 1 and 3 yards left on the bolts, exactly how much isn't posted.  These are priced at 20% off whatever is left.  (If you haven't looked at how much nice fabric costs these days, be prepared for a surprise.)

This Sunday I got these dotted fabrics.  It may look like random shopping, but those of us who quilt - a lot - know what colors and patterns we use.  Even if they don't find a home in a quilt top the sizes are super nice for baby quilt backings.

Or, in this case, for Christmas quilts.  The name of the collection is called Merry and Bright.  Once again, those of us who quilt a lot know these thingsAnd I have a coordinating fabric with a pretty green background.

A small stack of quilts and pillow cases will be picked up today for children's Christmas boxes in Tennessee.  One of our baby quilt members, now sadly deceased, has a daughter who is a social worker there and coordinates a huge Christmas project.  It's nice to remember Ginny this way, this year.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Advent Is Approaching


On my list yesterday - to hang this Advent banner after church.  Because next Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent.  This isn't a new piece, but it's been awhile.  Some partial stars.  Snow building.  Awakening.  I also found a different kind of Advent wreath, sort of a small spiral.  I'll take a picture of that another day.

And while I was looking for this in the stash under my bed, I got out a few Christmas wall hangings for my home.  And hung them.  The goose is getting a bit plump.

I meant to look at the quilt stash earlier in the week, but of course I did it right before church.  Hmmm.  Perhaps my goal list for next year should have something about procrastination.

Library books out, library books in.  It seems as if all my holds are coming in at once.  If you're a reader, look up In the Wild Light.  The best fiction I've read in a while.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Christmas Cookie Ale


I love seasonal flavors, and that includes holiday beers.  This one, brewed in Cincinnati, is called Santa's Bribe.  The label says it's a Christmas cookie ale, but I don't know about all that.  It's supposed to have cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.  I don't really detect those flavors, but it's a nice smooth beer and that's good enough for me.

The brewery is named for President Taft, from Cincinnati, our 27th president.  On the label he is in a bathtub because local legend tells that he was a hefty guy and he once got stuck in his bathtub and required assistance to get unstuck.

Yesterday I made Thanksgiving applesauce, lots of applesauce.  For my family here, and I'll take some to North Carolina.  Drop some off for a friend who will be eating aloneLucky for me, the Granny Smith apples were on sale, and they were huge.  

Tears - happy ones.  I just learned that Nora was selected for Hamilton and Clermont County Honor Band, playing bassoon.  That kiddo, like others, has had a rough junior year and it's nice to have good news.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

And Just Like That


I've spent way too much time in the past few weeks trying to figure out why I couldn't message or email photos from my phone to my computer.  I like to think I'm pretty good at figuring these things out, but nothing worked.  Yesterday I needed to update Adobe for something unrelated and today, just like that, protos arrive with no problem.  Really, I just tried it on a whim, didn't think it would work.

And so, I hope you're still with me.  

Nora's appendicitis has not returned, although she is anxious that it might.  Aaron broke his arm when he tripped running down the street.  Aaron also had Covid, so he's had a time of it.  He's missing playing basketball and his percussion options in the band are limited.

Sarah and Winnie's little brown dog, Milo, is no longer with us.  He was doing fairly well, until suddenly, he wasn't.  They miss him tremendously, he was such a little handsome lover.  Now they have just one little brown dog, P-Nut, and she is a senior dog with health issues of her own.  Older than Milo was.

I've been cooking, at least more.  I'm not a fan of small appliances, but I got a new bread machine.  I remembered how often I used the one I had years ago, until I loved it to death.  The old one was big and clunky and this one is much more sleek.  The bread is just as good.  It's oatmeal bread in the picture.

Is anyone watching the storm expected next week?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cool Weather


As days go, yesterday just . . . wasn't.  I think it was turning on the heat in the morning and remembering the winter feel.  And I didn't want that reminder.  I appreciated the warmth, don't get me wrong.

I did get out this embroidery project, untouched since last winter, and made some progress.  I think I'll set up a craft table in my cozy bedroom, with a good lamp and a few tools, for hand sewing projects.

And maybe recycle in a change in curtains and bedding.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Lighted Pumpkin


Time to pick up the Halloween candy.  I'm always hopeful for some Trick or Treaters.

I'm very aware of the shorter days in the evenings.  Mornings are different, I enjoy getting up in the dark and watching the sky lighten.  But evenings - I always want more light.

I ordered some new window candles and I'll set them out soon, probably when the time changes on November 7 but maybe before.

There was a pair of black slacks waiting in a pile to go to Goodwill.  I always liked them but felt a little self conscious wearing them because they were a little too short.  And so . . . now they are capris and I am happy.

My books recently, I don't know.  I'm returning three today that I started reading and just didn't want to put the time into finishing them.  Good books are a treasure but mediocre books just aren't.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Little Red Tomatoes, Little Brown Dog


The cherry tomatoes in my garden are winding down.  If the weather holds, there will be a few more.

My little brown grand dog Milo in North Carolina has a volunteer tomato plant by the front steps.  He has become accustomed to looking for a ripe tomato on his way into the house.  Here he is, looking at the last tomato.  And it isn't even ripe.

I wish I could just give him mine.  I told his people they will need to purchase some.  A little dog needs his tomatoes.  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Frozen Squash and Sweet Potatoes


If you haven't tried the frozen sweet potatoes or butternut squash, here is your bit of encouragement.  Especially with the squash, cutting it up always seems a little daunting to me and it's so nice to have that part done.

And look up a nice recipe for squash sausage soup, it's so good.  I won't share mine because I might just lose you at Field Roast veggie sausage but there are some good recipes out there.  And I felt virtuous digging out the blender and actually using it.

Last night Aaron and some friends celebrated his birthday by visiting Kings Island Halloween Haunt, then having a sleep over.  I don't know whether they got to ride a single ride, it was super crowded, but hopefully they got into one or two of the haunted houses.

His birthday was actually a month ago, but life is busy.  And so, fourteen.  In eighth grade, he got a late start with school because of his September birthday.

Catch up with Nora:  her appendicitis is resolving, the antibiotic treatment is finished..

Saturday, October 9, 2021

It Really Is Saturday


Some sweet small napkins with soft fabric left from a curtain project.  The serger three-thread narrow overlock is my favorite finish for this kind of thing.

This morning I got an email from a friend asking if I was going to church in person today or watching on facebook.  There was more than a moment of panic.  I'm the worship leader this Sunday and I was still in pajamas. I had to print out the materials (not a small deal with my old cantankerous printer), not to mention practicing a few times.  And the drive/parking takes at least 25 minutes.  

I must have checked my phone and fitbit ten times to reassure myself that yes, it really is Saturday.

But somehow the gift of all that is that this day stretches out so nicely and whatever I do seems like a bonus.  Like these napkins.  And putting together half the blocks on a baby quilt.  Making a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast - don't judge me.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

Green Pumpkin


Two weeks ago, when we got this pumpkin at The Twisted Apple, an organic orchard near Hendersonville, NC, it was a glossy green.  Gorgeous.

Now it has turned orange in selected places.  Fascinating.  Still gorgeous.  Will it soon be all orange?

I trimmed back one of the ornamental grasses today, so if you come up my sidewalk you won't trip.  You're welcome.

But, there is a hole in the concrete under my porch.  And a small chipmunk poked his head out while I was working.  As you may know, I don't do small creatures well in enclosed spaces.  I am imagining it getting into my basement, running around, going up the steps . . . I don't even want to go there.  I have to deal with this.  And it's one of those things that I don't even know where to call.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

October Table Toppers


I have two daughters, so I made two of these October table toppers.  Sorry, I can't remember the name of the Moda charm packs that I used, but I know I used Cupcake Mix Recipe 4.

I've realized that my new machine has a wider default three-step zig zag, and I like that.  It adds a little interest to the edges.  And it was fun to find just the right binding fabric in my stash of Halloween fabrics.  It has a subtle candy corn print.

And so, on this rainy day, a trip to the post office.  Maybe I will see if they have Christmas stamps.

And maybe I will walk around just a little and check out the new music venue across the street.  It's huge, part of a new development along the Ohio River.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

If You Are Weary

Thanks to Liz Lamoreux for her email yesterday with this poem/story.  If you are weary of our world sometimes and just plain despair, give it a read.  It's a quick and easy feel-better piece.

read Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye

It's a lovely break from our politics and discord and violence.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Corn Pudding


Corn Pudding

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream (or you can use regular)
  • 1 stick melted butter

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in an 8" pan.

I like to add an egg too.  And then freeze some for other days. 

One of these days, I'll channel my Berea days and make some spoonbread from the Boone Tavern recipe.  Someone even gave me a lovely pottery bowl just for that.  The recipe is a little more complicated so I'll let you research that.  Eggs, milk, corn meal, butter, etc.  It's definitely worth making.

Dinner at Boone Tavern just isn't dinner without the server putting a scoop of spoonbread on your plate. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Wall Hanging Redo


I liked this Christmas tree wall hanging enough that I made a second in a brighter color palette.  I do have two daughters, after all.  The pattern is by Fig Tree & Co. and uses a charm pack plus a little yardage.

My friend just emailed that she is having her furnace serviced today.  I've hardly thought about that yet.  The unit has been blessedly quiet in that magical space between ac and heat and my budget appreciates that.  

Last night I started to make corn pudding, happy that I'd bought the sour cream that I needed to complete the recipe.  And then realized that somewhere along the line I'd used up the Jiffy Mix that is the basis for the whole thing.  Maybe tonight there will be corn pudding.

Folks in Cincinnati tend to not be Steelers fans, primarily because of the Bengals/Steelers rivalry.  The Bengals played on Thursday night, so last night I watched Green Bay win over the Steelers and felt pretty happy about thatMy dad was such a football fan and he passed the love of that sport on to me.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Orange Sculpture


While waiting to go upstairs to visit my grand girl, I spotted this armadillo sculpture in the Cincinnati Children's Hospital lobby.  Such a whimsical guy.  One of the orange discs says "Can you count how many toes I have?"

Nora had appendicitis and is being treated with antibiotics vs surgery.  Fingers crossed for her.  Life is hard for teens sometimes.

She was able to perform her drum major duties for her band competition last night.  This was a very big deal for her, only two competitions this year.  We can only hope that next year will be a more normal year, whatever that looks like.  Last year there were no competitions at all.

The band placed fourth overall.

And so.  With my visit to Asheville and Nora's illness and taking Aaron to golf matches, which I love, I haven't touched a sewing machine in a long time.  Well, not really, but it seems that way.

Yesterday I actually went to the grocery store with a list.  I really, really want to do better with food preparation.  I have a couple of new recipes torn out of magazines and another marked on my laptop.  Once again, fingers crossed.

Friday, October 1, 2021



At Skytop Orchards between Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina.  Way up a mountain, great views on the way.

In Winnie's arms, little brown dog Milo.  In my hands, wonderful cider donuts.  The line for those was so long, with good reason.

There was also coffee and cider, a store, pick your own orchard, maybe even a petting zoo.  It was crowded, so we didn't stick around to see.  Scored those warm donuts and made our way back to the car.

Last night I ate the last donut, a few minutes in the oven at 250 degrees.  There are other orchards that have cider donuts, just not warm from the fryer with the whole experience.  Sarah and Winnie did find some gluten free donuts at another orchard, and I got a wonderful gluten free apple pie.

And a bright green pumpkin with little bumps, which is now turning more orange every day.  Still pretty.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Arbor Evenings


It's been a month of blogging time-out.  Sometimes, I feel like I have little to say.  And when I was working on the sampler quilt it seemed like every creative day was like every other.

You know that I love the North Carolina Arboretum.  When I visited last week there was a lovely Arbor Evening event with music and a chance to visit the big outdoor sculptures that had been on exhibit.

No one bought Big Al, who was a large alligator and one of my favorites.  His price tag reflected the work that went into making him.  And this week he has gone back home.

Right away, work has begun on the Winter Lights exhibit.  I'm sure it will be glorious.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Yellow Cake, Chocolate Icing


We usually look up  recipes online now but I dug out my old Betty Crocker cookbook for recipes for yellow cake and chocolate icing for son-in-law Mike's birthday.  It's his go-to birthday cake.

This cookbook has seen better days, and it was a replacement for another that fell apart.  There are loose pages, and some are missing and lots are stained, so it may soon be time to replace it once again.  There's just something about a good basic cookbook.

I could have just headed for the store for a cake mix but I wanted to revisit actually making a cake, plus I'm limiting trips out once again.  

And a shout-out to my cousin Bill who gave me the vintage Sunbeam hand mixer.  I've gone through a couple of newer hand mixers but this one just keeps going.  I even visited the Kitchen Aid repair place a few years with one of the hand mixers since it was expensive but learned that there were no parts available.

I hope that little repair shop off the beaten path is still in business.  The repair guy did a good job with repairing my stand mixer when it needed it.

And so, I'm looking forward to a family birthday meal at noon and cake for dessert.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


Happy National Dog Day to those of you who notice these things.  

In the days before Lucy left us, a little black chihuahua showed up in Sarah and Winnie's neighborhood.  He was well cared for on their porch, even had a vet visit, but no one seemed to be looking for him.  And so yesterday he rode away with the Small But Mighty Rescue people, who have a waiting list for just such little dogs.

After the zoo adventure, my week has been quiet.  A narrow hem on a long chiffon mother of the bride dress.  Serger thread and setting changes for a rolled hem on a bathing suit top.  Making a loved scrub top larger.  The double sashings on my sampler quilt.  

There are a crazy number of Covid cases in my state, sixty-five deaths yesterday, or was it the day before.  The governor has called up the National Guard for hospital help.  Wondering, should I change out the porch light to the green bulb again?  I was so happy to put that green bulb away just a couple of months ago.  Things seemed so hopeful.

I can feel my world narrowing again.  Fewer in-store visits, although so many people at the grocery store are wearing masks.  School has started, no more lunch drop-offs that I enjoyed.  Praying that school will be able to continue in-person.  That the band can play on. 


Monday, August 23, 2021

What Was I Thinking?


What was I thinking, taking my grands to the zoo this afternoon, when it was 92 degrees?

I was thinking that tomorrow the projected high is 95 degrees, so today was cooler.  I was thinking this was the last good day for an outing before school starts on Wednesday, since we're all busy tomorrow.

It was HOT.  The kids were very tolerant of my taking lots of rest breaks and then downright calling it at the end of a couple of hours.  We stopped for ice balls on the way home, and that was lovely.

At the giraffe exhibit is a measuring stick, and both kids measured at 5'9", with shoes.  Nora's days of being the taller sibling are coming to an end.  She's a sophomore this year, Aaron is starting eighth grade.  Although, he red shirted a year before starting school because he has a September birthday, so he'll be 14 in a few weeks.

Those grands though - they weren't bothered by the heat.  Nora is coming off a three-week all-day band camp at her high school and Aaron has been out with his golf team.  He decided to take a break from football this year to try out golf, which he also likes.  The heat, to them, was just more of the same.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

And the Answer Is

I wondered when I started using the big cone of Gutterman white thread - 3,281 feet of thread - just how long it would take to use it all.  And the answer is eleven months, almost exactly.  

Of course, I don't use white thread exclusively, maybe not even mostly, because I use a lot of pale gray too.  Still, this is interesting to me, although it might not be to anyone else.

The garden grows.  It's been an outstanding year for petunias, coleus, geraniums.  For impatiens, not so much.  Those started out great but got some kind of fungus disease.

Note to self:  for the expanded garden next year, plant squash every couple of weeks so that when a hill inevitably gets powdery mildew there will be another healthy hill to take over.  

And note to self, the geraniums in pots were perfect for pops of color in the front yard garden.  And apparently the deer and other critters leave them alone.  For the most part.  There was some nibbling in the back yard.  Once, even, on the back porch.  Close to the railing.  

Saturday, August 21, 2021

And . . . One Hundred


This was not the weekend I had planned, visiting Sarah and Winnie in North Carolina.  But, sore throat and achiness in their household  (not Covid, we finally learned) and today, the end of life vet visit for the oldest of their three little brown dogs, Lucy.

Lucy had the best life, rescued from being left at the goat barn at Biltmore Estates.  She loved living in West Asheville and walking down Haywood Road, taking in all the sights.  And then she moved to Hendersonville beside a lake and learned the joys of country living and mulberries in the summer.  She lived her very best life.

And so, I have just finished piecing the 100th, and last, sampler block from Susan Ache's Sampler Spree.  I have closed the book.  It's been a good run.  I'm very glad that I did the four-block sets with sashing and the red setting blocks as I went, because sashing the 100 little blocks would be daunting at this point.  There's a life lesson in there somewhere.  There is, of course, more sashing to come, pieced sashing that looks pretty fun.

Time now to sit outside in the 79-degree evening, hoping to soon hear Reds' end-of-game fireworksThe Reds are tied with the Padres for a wild card spot in the playoffs, and no matter how that turns out, it's been a fun Reds season..  



Sunday, August 8, 2021

Another Few Sampler Spree Sets


Another few sets of Sampler Spree blocks.  Not my favorites, and yet, when I look at these blocks all together they look better than they do individually.  There's a life lesson in there somewhere.

For the next two weeks I need to slow down with these sampler blocks because I have a large and timely sewing job to do.  Hoping the find time for at least one of these little blocks every day.  Twelve more to go!

I had a good time yesterday choosing new water bottles for the grands to take to school.  I've found that shopping for these teens isn't easy but they do like nice water bottles.

And it looks like I need to find some time to do more mask sewing.  Just six weeks ago I was looking at the unused masked elastics and wondering whether I should just dispose of them because - well, you know, it looked like masks were on their way out.  But now things have changed and it looks like it will be another mask-up school year.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The One


This.  Block 60 in the Sampler Spree book.  Simple, elegant.  And the one that got me.

I'd been feeling a little smug, 59 blocks in.  I've always been a bit challenged when it comes to fitting pieces in various configurations.  (Remembering that awful day in second grade when we had some kind of standardized test where they showed a hand or a foot from different angles and we had to mark whether it was left or right.  Absolutely awful.  I had no clue.  I remember sitting at my wooden desk in despair and realizing that I was stupid.  My second grade self figured it must be so.)  

But many years have passed and I'm not stupid and now working with the sampler blocks has been affirming and I was feeling pretty good.  Minimal ripping in that regard.

And then block 60 came along.  There is a LOT of fabric in my wastebasket.  I finally figured out to cut according to the outer edges of the strip set and ignore the inner triangles.  Just don't even look at the little pictures in the book that are supposed to help.  Totally ignore the template.

Thing is, I realize that most people probably breeze right through this block, feeling relieved, it's only 16 pieces.  Some of those little blocks have 36 or more pieces.  It's ok, I have learned to work around this little brain glitch of mine.  On to block 61.  I can glance at 61 and know how it goes together.  

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sampler Blocks


My design wall is filled with little sampler blocks these days.  Six-and-a half inches square.  I'm enjoying the book Sampler Spree by Susan Ache.

Most mornings I make a block or two, usually two.  It fits in with my usual way of making things, a little at a time.  There is even a facebook group of folks working on these blocks, although many of them work with one color scheme each week.  I like a really scrappy look, so I just add colors as I feel like it.  I have no problem finding various colors among my small fabric pieces.

The finished quilt, if I get to that, has 100 blocks.  Some of the blocks have teeny pieces, a few use templates.  I'm about 1/3 of the way there, we'll see.  So far, making these little blocks is addicting.  And I'm getting much faster at visualizing and sewing.

I had always ignored the 1/4" stitch on my sewing machines, but with my new machine I can also click over one position toward the edge so it makes a nice scant 1/4" seam, using the regular presser foot.  I find it much easier than using the 1/4" piecing foot.

We are at the All Star Break, so there won't be as much baseball for the next few days.  So proud of the Cincinnati Reds and their recent run.  Baseball has been fun.