Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hot Pepper Jellllllllyyyyy!!

Quote for the Day:
"The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest."
~William Blake

I love garden harvest time!!!
No...I haven't had a vegetable garden for several years now, but this is the time of year when people who do garden love to share the excess with their friends and neighbors!  And Andy & I have been on the receiving end of squash, tomatoes, and hot peppers from friends' gardens!!!
So far this week, I've made FOUR batches of HOT PEPPER JELLY!!!...THREE of those batches were made today!  :)
Here's the water-bath canner...busy doing it's thing on top of the stove!   :) 

Lets take a peak inside!!!  Look at those cute little jelly jars in there!  :) 
And here are just SOME of the TWENTY-TWO jars of hot pepper jelly that I made up today...
The batch I made last weekend produced EIGHT jars, too!  :)   So that makes...THIRTY jars of hot pepper jelly total I've made this year!  All from GIFTED peppers!  :):):)

Tomorrow I plan on making 3 batches of zucchini relish from some gifted zucchini!  That is our favorite relish and we ran out mid-winter last year.   We HATE it when we have to resort to store-bought relish.  It just can't compete with the wonderful taste of zucchini relish!   

I really enjoy canning.  My mom canned.  A LOT!  We had huge gardens when I was growing up and canning the harvest was not for was a necessity to feed our family of 8!  When I was growing up, I HATED helping with the canning because it was HOT and HUMID and we had no air conditioning.  AND it kept from being outside playing with my friends!  

Canning is no longer a "necessity"  for us like it was for my family, but canning is a great way to preserve the best tasting food around...home-grown vegetables and fruits!  Nowadays, I crank up the air conditioning and just get busy!  :) 

I LOVE to can!!  I love the look of the splatter-ware canner.  I love using the utensils.  I love the mason jars.  I love that I know how to make yummy pickles, relish, jellies and jams.  I love the peacefulness of watching the canner boil, knowing that you're going to be rewarded for all the hard work you've put into those little jars.   I love hearing the "pop" of the lids sealing when you pull them out of the hot water.  I love sharing my canned items with others, knowing that I MADE THAT!

And... when I am canning, it evokes memories of my mom, and that makes me feel like she's there with me at that moment.  :)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Wednesday...

Quote for the Day:
"If I stitch fast enough, does it count as aerobic exercise?" 
~author unknown

I'm moving right along on the dresden plate quilt!  I've already cranked it down once and am currently working on the first row of blocks.  :)  

I also have a book review for you!

"Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil" by Deborah Rodriguez.

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.

Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.

With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.
I listened to this as an audiobook that I downloaded onto my MP3 player from the library.  (It's FREE, you know!!!  You really should try it!  I can also hook my MP3 into my car's stereo system via the auxillary jack and listen to the books on my drive to and from work!!) 

When I first started listening to this book, I thought the beginning sounded like the author was a little grandiose in her description of what she had accomplished.  I quickly put that assessment aside as I continued to listen to the story.   The author shared both the successes and the failures of the beauty school and her life in both America and Afghanistan.

This book is a definite recommendation!  :)



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dogs, Asthma and Kitchen Renovating...

Quote for the Day:
"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"
~Murphy's Law

Last weekend, I finally decided that I really wanted another dog.  In fact, I decided that I wanted another Boston Terrier now that Lady is no longer with us.  Yes...even if it means that I'm trying to "replace" Lady...I still want a Boston Terrier.  I decided that if we loved the new dog half as much as we loved Lady, the dog would be well-loved.  :)

So last weekend I started looking at to try to find a BT to adopt.

In the meantime, I had an appointment with my doctor on Monday morning regarding some shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing that had been going on since I had a cold the last week of December, 2011.  She scheduled me for a pulmonary function test, which I went to this past Friday.

Well, after the pulmonary function test we now know why I've been coughing and wheezing for 8.5 on-set asthma!  According to the respiratory technician doing the test, she said she could tell the asthma was very out of control by the way I responded to the breathing treatment she gave me half-way through the test!  And all along I thought the shortness of breath was because I was old and out of shape!  :(

My doctor started me on a combination inhaler and a rescue inhaler, and lo and behold...I can BREATHE again!  For the most part, I'm no longer short of breath and have only had a few short incidences of wheezing over the last couple of days since starting the combination inhaler.  So it wasn't just my being out of shape!  Who knew???

I am still coughing a little, but today even that is much less than it was yesterday!  Woohoo!  

Unfortunately, even with insurance, our monthy out-of-pocket expense for the combination inhaler is quite expensive, so I don't think we should take on the expense of a pet right now.  :(   That makes me sad.  But, "it is what it is".  

In the meantime, I'm reading all I can find online to learn more about asthma and how to keep it under control, triggers, treatment, etc.

It will be interesting this coming week to see how much easier work is when I can actually breathe!  I've been so short of breath for so many months now, that it had just become a way of life for my back's just something that I was living with...dealing with it the best that I knew how.

Now, before anybody gets after me for not going to the doctor my defense, the symptoms started off very light and intermittent and very gradually got worse.  I did seek medical attention at an urgent care in mid-February and got some treatment.  But once the meds wore off, the symptoms started coming back again.  The wheezing was only at night until about the beginning of July, when I started having it during the day, too...usually with activity.  With intermittent symptoms, it's hard to go to the doctor because you don't know if you'll be having the symptoms when you are actually there.  And frankly, even on Monday, the doctor didn't hear any wheezing but went strictly on what I told her, since the only symptom I had while in her office that day was coughing.  A chest x-ray taken the week before in the emergency room was clear, too.

And besides...I just hate going to doctors, anyway!  :(  

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a blog by a lady who refaced her fireplace using AirStone wall treatment.  I had shown the pictures to Andy and we both said we wished that we had known about AirStone when we were trying to figure out what to cover the chimney in the kitchen with.

Since finally covering the chimney with plywood and bead board, we had come to another standstill on the kitchen remodel because we were not exactly sure what to do with the area/alcove where the stove sits.  

Cue the "tada" music...
We've decided to use the AirStone in that area!  

On the AirStone website it says that you can purchase it at Lowe's.  But after calling our local Lowe's (who didn't even know what I was talking about and it wasn't in their computer or on I found a list of Lowe's on the AirStone website that DID carry it.  However, the closest one to us was in Uniontown, PA...about 1.25 hours away from us.

So today Andy & I took a Sunday drive to Uniontown and picked up the product so that the next time I have a couple days off (Labor Day weekend) I can get that alcove done and we can move on with the renovation!  YAY!

I'll be sure to take before, during, and after pictures so you can see the project and do the proper amount of "ohhhing" and "ahhhing"!  LOL  


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Next Up...

Quote for the Day:
"Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, 
stitched with love."
~author unknown

Well...after finishing my quilt storage cabinet, I was raring to get the next quilt into the frame and get back to quilting!  :)  So Sunday I loaded Diana's quilt onto the frame.

This dresden plate quilt was made by Diana's mother...who likes to make tops but then gives them unfinished to her daughter.  Diana has had a couple of them long-armed (machine) quilted locally, but she wanted this one to be handquilted.  Diana is my massage therapist (and friend), so we struck up a "deal"...quilting in exchange for massages!  :)

This quilt is a big-un!!!  102" X 102"!!  It was actually 5" bigger all around, but it wouldn't fit on my frame at that size, so I told Diana I'd have to remove the outer 2.5" border.  

I spent 2.5 hours on Sunday just removing the border and marking the remainder quilt.  I like to have my quilts all marked BEFORE they go into the frame so I can the "whole" picture to make sure the marking works for that quilt.  I know some people who mark the quilt while it's in the frame as they go, but that's just not me.

I loaded it onto the frame Sunday evening and then sat down and quilted on it for about an hour.  There's nothing like the feeling of putting the first few stitches in a quilt and starting to see the quilt "come to life"!  :)

Funny story time...
Sometimes I hear women talk about their spouses and how dependent the spouses are on them to cook for them.  It almost sounds like the husband would starve if the wife didn't get home in time to make a meal for them.  I even heard one woman say that her husband wouldn't even make himself a sandwich, that he would wait for her to get home to make it for him.

I've laughed at this because if Andy waited for me to cook for him, he would have starved a LONG time ago!!!  Usually, I do some cooking on my days off and he cooks the rest of the time.  But over the last couple of weeks, I hadn't done any cooking...only he had...and I was eating from that cooking.

Well...on Sunday, while I was getting the quilt ready to go into the frame, Andy went grocery shopping and there was no more cooked up food in the fridge.  

About mid-afternoon I started getting hungry and thought to myself, "I'm getting hungry...I hope Andy gets home soon so he can make something for us to eat!"

About that time I started laughing out loud because I realized that *I* had become that spouse that I had laughed at when my friends talked about their husbands being dependent on them to eat!!!

But to set the record straight, when Andy got home *I* did cook supper for us.  I figured I had relied on Andy long enough...I'd better start doing my share of the cooking again, too!  LOL

Okay...there you have it...


Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Non-Quilt-But-Quilt-Related Project...

Quote for the Day:
"IKEA:  Swedish for 'good luck putting this $hit together'"
~author unknown

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped some hints about a project that I wanted to do before I put the next quilt into the frame.

Last weekend, with Andy's help, I was able to complete the project.  However, since painting was involved, I had to wait till this weekend to make sure the paint was "cured" enough to actually put it into use.

This is a free-standing wardrobe that we picked up at auction when we first moved here 13 years ago.  

The "master" bedroom in this old house doesn't have any closets, so this is one of the wardrobes that we bought to provide storage space.  It was replaced a couple of years ago by a better wardrobe, so this one was moved into my quilting room to store my quilts.

As you can see with the doors open, there were no shelves, so all the quilts and extra pillows were just piled in there.  It was a pain in the butt to try to get anything in or out.  I also didn't like the dark finish on it, which was in bad condition. 

So I painted it...


...and we added two shelves for quilt storage!!!  The shelves are those white, pre-finished ones that you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot so the quilts don't have to sit on a painted surface.

The extra pillows are now stored upright in the bottom and are easily pulled out for use and the quilts are easy to see and access!!!

Whenever I paint a piece of furniture, I always take a sanding block to the edges to "distress" it and give it some instant "age"!  :)

I love how pretty and functional it is now!  :D

Ain't she purdy!  :)



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Enough is Enough Already...

Quote for the Day:
"I wonder why you can always read a doctor's bill 
and you can never read his prescription." 
~ Finley Peter Dunne


Last week I posted that I had been sick for a day with severe nausea.  Since then I've had two more episodes...on Sunday, it hit for about 1.5 hours and then passed...and then yesterday, I had my THIRD episode of nausea in the last seven days.   

It started about 3 PM and I just kept getting sicker and sicker with no relief.  

After a couple episodes of throwing up, I finally decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and had Andy drive me to the hospital emergency room where they started an IV and gave me much needed fluids and some nausea medicine.  They also did a bunch of lab tests, x-rays, and an EKG...all of which came out fine...except for a low potassium, which goes along with the loss of fluids from the throwing up part.

After the fluids and the Zofran (for nausea), and Nexium, I felt much better so they released me with instructions to follow up with my medical doctor.    Ok, fine...

...until the car ride home...which started some nausea again, though not as bad as earlier.

I went to bed as soon as I got home.  This morning, I feel tired, but otherwise fine.   

Today starts my 6 day work stretch, so hopefully, the nausea will stay away for good.  

I still have no idea why the 3 episodes of nausea/vomiting occurred over the last week.  There are no common denominators in the me...I have wracked my brain over and over.  I'm just hoping that it's DONE.  I would rather suffer with pain than with nausea.  :( 

Thanks for listening...


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Busy Weekend...

Quote for the Day:
"If you think something small can't make a difference, 
try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room."

I have been a busy little beaver the past several days...but I can't show you what I did over the weekend, yet, because it's not put back together, yet, and I don't want to reveal it before it's complete.  :)

However, I can tell you about yesterday.  

On Monday, my friend, Pat, (that I'm teaching to quilt) came over and we worked on "quilty" things all day.  Pat is a co-worker, and a good friend.  We've been friends for so long and have shared so much together that I can have her over even when the house is messy.  :) 

We started off by pinning her queen-sized whole cloth quilt that she purchased on a trip to Lancaster, PA, earlier this summer.  

Here is a picture of the backing fabric she chose...

In these pictures, the whole-cloth quilt looks white, but it is actually ecru.  I just LOVE this backing fabric and am torn between buying it now for my whole-cloth (I purchased the same top after seeing hers...I just love the pineapple pattern on it!), or waiting till I'm ready to do my own and seeing what cool fabrics are available at that time, since it will be probably 2 years before I can even *think* about getting to this quilt! 

And just for perspective...this is what the quilt looked like on my "seats-eight-people-comfortably" dining room table!  :)

It's gonna be a "big-un"...finished size is 88" X 108"!!!  :)

Pat also brought a baby quilt to show me.  This is her second completed quilt and I think she did a wonderful job!  It is a "cheater" quilt where the pattern is printed on a piece of fabric and then you quilt it.  It's a quick, fun way to get straight to the quilting part and a great way to practice your quilting!  She hand quilted this and I think she did a GREAT job!  You go, Pat!  :)

Pat and I had started doing a block-of-the-month (BOM) earlier this year as a way for me to help her learn how to piece, but we haven't been able to get together for the past 4 months, so have really gotten behind. 

After pinning the whole-cloth quilt, which took about 2.5 hours to do, we spent some time on the BOM.  I helped her finish some of the blocks that she hadn't gotten to finish, yet, and then we worked on a new one...a string-pieced broken spider web.  

 I didn't get a chance to complete the block so it doesn't look like much, yet...but that's a sneak-preview!  :)  We're hoping to get together again in the next several weeks, so we'll get this block finished up and then move onto the next ones.  The next four blocks are easy ones, so they should go much faster!

After Pat, Andy & I went out to eat supper...thanks for treating us, Pat!  :)  ...she had to return home and I came back to the house and turned on the Olympics and worked on a portable project that I've been hand quilting the last week or so, since I don't have anything in the frame right now.

This is a couch quilt that I put together from a kit.  I took it to demonstrate hand quilting on when I taught the hand quilting class in March.  I'm moving right along on it and should have it done fairly quickly.  What a change a small quilt is after working on the over-sized queen quilts I'm usually doing!  LOL


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Knocked Off My Feet...

Quote for the Day:
"Much of your pain is the bitter potion 
by which the physician within you heals your sick self."
~Khalil Gibran

Sometimes your body just says "enough already" and puts itself to bed.  

That's what happened to me yesterday.  For some unknown reason, my body decided to revolt against me and I ended up in bed for the day with a stomach bug.  Every time I tried to get my body vertical, the nausea clicked in.  Basically, I spent the day, in bed, lying on my right side hugging a pillow and sleeping to escape the persistent nausea.  UGH!  

When I exited bed this morning at 9:00 AM, I felt like a new person, though my body ached from spending too much time in bed.  But at least I was able to get back to "normal" today!  :)

This past weekend I did a couple of things that I thought I'd share with ya...

I've been keeping my eye open for shelves at yard sales to help add some much needed storage.  I hung this shelf in the upstairs bathroom behind the door to help hold a few things.  Nothing fancy...just functional.  The shelf was purchased for $1 at a yard sale a few weeks ago.

More decoupaging going on, too!  :)
  This time I decoupaged a strip of pretty fabric around the cleansing wipes container that sits in the bathroom.  In the picture, you can see the shadow of the label, but in person it isn't noticeable unless you are really looking for it.  Just a way to "pretty up" something functional.

And last, but not least...I've been gradually turning all of my plastic hangers into non-slip hangers.  I like these homemade ones better than any non-slip ones I've bought!  So easy to make, too!

I might as well throw in a book review here, too!  :)

Growing Up Amish:  A Memoir, by Ira Wagler...
One fateful starless night, 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 AM, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. Now, in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life—from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26. Growing Up Amish is the true story of one man’s quest to discover who he is and where he belongs. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming yet poignant coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most enigmatic cultures in America today—the Old Order Amish.
I listened to this as an audiobook and was captivated by it.  I definitely recommend it!!