Monday, February 27, 2012

Poor Lady...

Quote for the Day:
"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you 
more than you love yourself. "
- Josh Billings 

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you, no doubt, have heard me talk about our faithful companion Boston Terrier, Lady.

 about 4 human years old...

12 human years old...
see how much white she has around her face and eyes now? 

She is always close by me, where ever I am.  If I'm showering, she lays outside the bathroom door to "protect" me.  :)  If I'm sewing, she's laying in her bed under my sewing table, etc.  In fact, she is always so close by that she frequently makes it into my blog pictures!

Since Christmas, we have noticed a definite decline in her health.  We've taken her to the vet and there were only 2 things that they were able to find...the pupil in her left eye is "blown" (permanently dilated and does not respond to light) and one of three liver enzymes is elevated.  We have started her on an antibiotic and a liver anti-oxidant to try and correct the liver enzyme.  We will have her blood retested at the end of the month of medication.  
She seems to have lost quite a bit of vision and hearing, but still seems to be quite active and happy.  We have noticed this past week that, on occasion, she doesn't seem to have complete control over her hind quarters and has, a few times, fallen on her butt.  :(  We are beginning to suspect that she may have had one or more small strokes.)
Years ago I had put a bed for her under my sewing table so she wouldn't lay on the rug by my rolling chair, but I had never put one in my quilting room for her.  Since she loves to be close by me, where ever I am, last night I took an old drawer from our kitchen demolition to make a bed for her in my quilting room.  :)
When I trim quilts in preparation for binding, I always save the batting in a grocery bag beside my cutting table.  These scraps make good pillow stuffing!  :)  I had an old cotton valance that I didn't want, so I cut the valance in half, then folded it in half.  After sewing up two of the three open sides, I took the old batting I'd been collecting, stuffed it inside and then sewed up the remaining end of the "pillow" for the drawer-turned-dog-bed!

Lady seems to approve!!!  :)  And that's all that matters.

We know the day is coming when we will have to let her cross the Rainbow Bridge, but that time has not come, yet.  Until then, we will take care of her, cuddle her and love her like the member of the family she has always been. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making Do...

Quote for the Day:
"There's more than one way to skin a cat"
~original author unknown
but quoted often by my dad!  :)

The story you about to hear is real.  Feel free to try this at home!  :)

On Sunday I decided that I needed to do something with these apples.  They had been sitting on the table for a while now and just weren't getting eaten.  Either I did something with them or they would probably end up in the trash.  :(  And I HATE to waste anything...a lesson taught me by my Depression-era parents!  :)

I decided that I wanted to make this...

But...uh oh...I only had less than 1/2 cup of brown sugar...

Without sending Andy to Walmart to pick up more, what's a girl to do???  (You didn't expect ME to go to Walmart, did you???)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a distant land, (???)  I had read in a book of helpful, frugal hints that you could MAKE brown sugar...but just how currently eluded me.  Thank God for the can GOOGLE anything these day!  LOL

Here's what you need to make your own brown sugar...

Take one tablespoon of molasses and one cup of white sugar and mix together with a fork or beater.   The instructions I read said that either way you are still going to have to use a fork, so I just went for the fork instead of dirtying up the beaters AND a fork.  

It starts out like this...

...but after about 45 seconds, looks like this....

...and after about 2-3 minutes total of mixing, you can't tell the difference between the homemade and the store bought.

Nice and fluffy and moist!  Just like brown sugar when you first open the bag!  :)

I decided to add some dried cranberries and dried dates to the apples just to give it a little extra "spunk"...

And here it is...fresh out of the oven...
MMMMMMM...boy was it good, too!  (I think there's one helping left from when I made this on Sunday, LOL)

On Saturday, I had taken my primary sewing machine into the shop to be cleaned...a "Well Baby" check-up, they call it there because they know that these sewing machines are our "babies"!  :)  But Sunday afternoon I was feeling the need to cut fabric for a new quilt and start sewing on it.  What is a lady (and I use that term "lady" loosely, LOL) to do when her main sewing machine is away from home?  

Well...let's see...there are four other sewing machines for me to choose from!  LOL  So I chose to bring "Beyonce" out of her case and sew on her for a while.

Why did I name this machine "Beyonce"?  Because she is a beautiful, caramel-colored Singer with fine moves!  :):):)  

Yep, this is the vintage Singer 301 that I bought at an auction last summer for the grand total of $2.00!!!   I have a Singer Featherweight 221, too, but I actually like this machine better, I think.  The 301 sews so smoothly and seems faster than the 221.  Also, the whole "tininess" of the 221 is a little strange to get used to, but this one feels more like a regular sized machine, even though it's about 3/4's the size of a full-sized machine.  The other thing I like about this machine is that you don't have to turn the fly wheel to get the needle moving, and I recall that when I did a few test runs with the Featherweight, I always had to turn the fly wheel to start the needle. 

I've not done much sewing with either of these machines until now.  I had purchased them to take to quilting classes, but so far hadn't taken any classes.  This November, I'm taking a workshop from Bonnie Hunter, so I thought I'd pull out this one and experiment with it to find my perfect 1/4" stitch before actually trying to take a class with it.  It has taken some time to find my perfect 1/4", but I finally found it by having Andy break off the flange of a 1/4" flanged sewing foot.  :)  By using the flange, I couldn't get a "scant" 1/4" and the seam allowance was a couple threads to wide.  But by breaking off the flange and running the fabric directly down the right edge of the foot, I get the PERFECT 1/4" seam!  :)

On Sunday, I had cut out some blue and neutral pieces from my scrap bins to make a Blue Ridge Beauty quilt as a leader/ender project.  (Leader/enders are pieces of fabric you put under your needle when you finish sewing so you aren't always clipping threads.)   Instead of using just trash pieces of fabric, if you put precut pieces to a quilt through there, then you end up with a second quilt...eventually!   However, I wasn't able to just cut these pieces and let them be...I had to sew some together to see what the block looked like in person... and I now have 20 completed blocks!  LOL  I think this L/E project has quickly become my primary project!  :)


Monday, February 20, 2012

Thimble UP!

Quote for the Day:
"If the only tool you have is a hammer,
 you tend to see every problem as a nail."
~Abraham Maslow 

Scrap quilt designer extraordinaire, Bonnie Hunter over at has asked her readers who are bloggers to write about their thimbles and to link up to her blog.  How could one resist an invitation like that, I ask you???  :)

Anybody who has ever started a new hobby or job knows that they learn what they need and works for them only after a lot of trial and error.

When I started hand quilting back in the mid 1990's, I purchased what I was told I would "need".  Over the years, when those items didn't work for me, I gradually learned what *did* work for me.  

One of those things that I've worked my way through is THIMBLES!  :)  I have since gotten rid of all the ones that DIDN'T work for me, so I don't have that long linage to share with you, so I'll just show you what I currently use day in and day out!  :) 

After trying...and buying... just about every thimble on the market, except for the Roxanne thimble which I found I couldn't use when I tried it at the store, I have finally found one that I LOVE!  It is a "raised edge" thimble and costs about $8.00.  

Since I use the tip of my finger to push the needle through, the high edge around the top keeps the needle from slipping off of the thimble.  :)

As you can see, I also wear a finger cot on my index finger to help pull the needle through.  I found that without wearing one of these, the needle just slides through my fingers, causing me to have to keep trying to pull the needle through repeatedly, making my fingers sore.  :(   

For quilting AWAY from my body, after much trial and error with leather thumb thimbles, I finally found Ted's Thumb Thimble.   It is an adjustable thimble that fits on your thumb and has a large "dimple" to hold the needle.  

In the top picture, you can actually see the spot where my needle always hits because it creates a little indention there over time.  This is actually my second Ted's Thumb Thimble because my needle did, eventually, wear the hole all the way through my last one.  That meant that every time I used it the needle went straight through to my thumb.  OUCH!  

I thought I'd go ahead and show you the rest of my hand quilting tools...

This little thread and thimble holder was made for me by a friend that does woodworking.  I had asked for something to hold a thimble and 2 spools of thread (since sometimes I've been known to use 2 different colors of thread on a quilt).  When I'm not using the second spool holder for thread, I use it to hold my second thimble.  :) 

The plastic dish on the left is to collect my thread snippets.  The silver tray in the middle holds various stuff...extra needles, thread wax, marking pencils, liquid bandage (for my underneath finger when it starts getting too sore), and the Splenda container holds my discarded bent/broken needles so they don't go in the trash unprotected.  :)   Simply hold the container upside down and push the lever to open the "bottom"...and insert the needle!  When it gets full, I just toss it!  And, of course, the pin cushion on the right is self explanatory...I think!  LOL

We can't forget the reading glasses :), the snipping scissors, or the ever important...REMOTE CONTROL!!!  LOL   I wouldn't get too far without any of these!  :O

And last, but not adjustable chair, Ott-lite (for these poor old eyes) and my 3-roll floor frame that tilts and adjusts to just the right ergonomic position for me!

Hope you've enjoyed this visit to my sewing room and maybe, just maybe, I've given you some good information about tools that you can try in your own hand quilting adventure!  :)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I need to amend my previous Valentine's Day post...

At lunch, Andy came home with these...

...a Valentine's bouquet for moi!  :)

See...even after 31 years he can still keep me guessing!  ;)


Happy Valentine's Day!

Quote for the Day:
“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. 
 When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind 
is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”
~author unknown

Today is the day we celebrate LOVE!  Hope you all have a GREAT day today with the people in your life that you love!  :)

Andy & I don't do a lot of exchanging of presents on any holiday, including Valentine's Day, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other very much!  Oh yes, we've had our share of gift fiascos over the 31 years we been together.   (Maybe sometime I'll tell you about the power drill he gave me for Valentine's Day when we'd been married 13 years!!)   But mainly we don't do gifts because we are at the point in our lives where we just don't "need" anything...and if we need or want something, we go out and buy it.  We aren't into spending money just to buy something as a gift because it is "expected" or "protocol for the holiday".  End of story.

Andy reads my blog, so I'm going to give this shout out to him here:

After 31 years, you are still the love of my life!  Thank you for picking me up in the "Jack of Diamonds" all those years ago.  :)   Happy Valentine's Day, Andy!  I love you very much!!

(Yes, we met in a bar!  But that's a story for another day, too!  LOL)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Reviews and Quilting Update...

Quote for the Day:
"Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, 
there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom."
~Ecclesiastes 9:10, Holy Bible, New Living Translation

Happy Sunday to all.  Hope your new week is starting out great!

We've been having snow and a cold snap
since Friday here in West VirginiaAt our house we've only had 3-4" accumulation of snow, but some higher elevations have had more like 6-8".  The temperatures have only been in the low 20's F during the daytime and 5-10 degrees F at night.   BRRRRR!

We can't complain too much, though, because we have had a very mild winter so far...which suits me just fine!  :)   (Helps keep the heating bills down, too...which is a "good thing"!)

In January, I loaded the daffodil quilt top into the hand quilting frame and thought you might want to see what a block of it looks like quilted...

I'm really liking the way the quilting helps bring the flower and stems to life and give them dimension.  However, there is a LOT more quilting involved in this quilt than I thought there was going to be, so I don't think I'll be getting it done in 3 months like I had originally thought.  I would guess it will take more like 6 months.

I wanted to share a book review/recommendation, too...

"Perfection:  A memoir of betrayal and renewal" by Julie Metz is an EXCELLENT book!
  • Julie Metz had seemingly the perfect life—an adoring husband, a happy, spirited daughter, a lovely old house in a quaint suburban town—but it was all a lie.
    Julie Metz's life changed forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapsed on the kitchen floor and died in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old became the young widow in her bucolic small town. But that was only the beginning. Seven months after Henry's death, just when Julie thought she was emerging from the worst of it, came the rest of it: She discovered that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half-truth. Henry had hidden another life from her.
    Perfection is the story of Metz's journey through chaos and transformation as she creates a different life for herself and for her young daughter. It is the story of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood, of rebirth and happiness—if not perfection. 

    Warning:  Don't start reading this book in the evening.  I was unable to put it down for the first 1/2 of the book!  If you start late in the evening, you will be up half the night reading it!  You've been warned!   :)


Friday, February 10, 2012

Where In the World is Loretta???

Quote for the Day:
“Never any weary traveler complained that he
came too soon to his journey's end.”
Thomas Fuller

I know, I know...I've been MIA ("missing in action") lately. 

Well...not technically "missing"...because *I* knew where I was!  :)   Andy & I took our yearly sojourn to Florida for 5 days and even took a side-trip up to Georgia to see the kiddos...Paul, Trinity, and Andrew III.  :)

A few years ago, we got in the habit of going to Florida for an albeit brief escape from the cold West Virginia winters.  However, since the weather has been very mild so far this winter, it really made this trip to Florida seem strange....going from semi-warm weather to REALLY warm weather!  LOL  The last couple of years, the weather in Florida had been "cool", by normal standards.  Not this year!  HOT HOT HOT!!!  I had to keep reminding myself that what season we were in because it felt like August weather to us!  ("Tourist season" in most areas of the United States is during the summer months, May through September.  But in Florida, the "tourist season" is January through March.) 

Here are some pictures from our side trip to Georgia to visit with Paul, Trinity & Andrew:

Our son and daughter-in-law, Paul & Trinity...

Andrew LOVES to draw and carries a little notebook and crayon around with him most of the time (like they do on "Blues Clues")!!  

Here he is intently watching what Aunt Mary Ellen is drawing in his notebook...

Whenever I get the chance, I like to take pictures of "The Three Andrews" together...Andrew, Sr., Andrew "Paul" II, and Andrew III...

Playing outside quickly turned from this... this... this...

All I can say is I'm glad those Little Tyke toys are made to be sturdy!  LOL

On Sunday, we tried out a new restaurant that Paul knew about...Mongo's, in Valdosta.   (BTW...HIGHLY recommend it if you are ever in the area.  It is a Mongolian barbeque.)  
After lunch, we took Andrew to the park to play for a while.

As soon as Andrew saw a swing become available, he headed straight for it...and then promptly fell asleep in it for about 10 minutes while his mom pushed him in it...

Anybody who knows little Andrew knows he has a special love for his Grandpa Andrew.  They are inseparable when we visit!  Andrew will forsake even his mother's arms when Grandpa is around!  LOL

We had a great trip, both in Georgia and Florida!  Lord willing, we'll do it all again next year, too!  :)