May 29, 2008


If I didn't feel like a homeowner before, NOW I do. Yup, it's official... I received my first TAX BILL in the mail. Since taxes are pro-rated on the HUD, my first concern was whether I set aside enough to pay the first installment. I got out the worksheet they gave me at closing and figured out the difference between the pro-rated amount and the actual amount. Only $9 difference. *Whew* What's the big deal, you ask? I was lucky in that my mortage program doesn't MAKE me include escrowed taxes or insurance with my monthly payment. Why should they use my money when I can set it aside and earn interest on it myself? So each pay period, I set aside costs associated with taxes, homeowners insurance, and car insurance. That money is *never* touched until it comes time to pay one of those bills. Yay for me that I have been setting aside the correct amount. :)

I've finished the flower bed on the north side of the house on Wed. A coworker gave me a huge hosta plant that I was able to split in two. I probably could've split it into fourths, but I figure I'll leave that traumatization for next year. I also added the sedum that I brought from my last place. I'm really happy that at least ONE bed is finished and looks nice.



Here's the garden in the backyard where lava rock was used as mulch, under which is a nice network of grass roots due to neglect. Notice the lovely brick border? This was created by one of the previous owners. I'm guessing two owners back because the one before me didn't strike me as the type to do yard work (obviously).

I planted iris and tulips in there temporarily. The camera decor is mine, too. Had to spruce it up a little!

SBQ - Whatever Possessed Me

Do you ever get to a point working on a project that you've had for so long, you start to wonder what possessed you to start it in the first place?

LOL, Yes. I've wondered that when I look at my two really old UFO's that were started in the early 90's. At the time, it seemed like a good idea and being new to the craft I was excited about them. Now, they're just projects I'm determined to get done. Of course, they're BAPs!

Mime was a gift from my oldest brother. I don't even know if he remembers giving it to me. I found it a year or so ago while going through my stash.

Treasured Memories Quilt Afghan was started as a gift for a family member and is really an easy stitch, but it gets boring doing the same color in huge blocks.

Mime and Treasured Memories Quilt Afghan

May 26, 2008

Third Time's The Charm!

Ever try to drill into brick without a hammer drill? I'm here to say that an itty bitty 9v cordless drill won't do the trick. Even with a 3/8" electric drill, it's not an easy job! What am I blabbering on about?

This is what the window wells looked like when I moved in last fall:

One had two layers of covers on it, the rest had three layers. Whatever happened to taking off the bad and replacing it? In this case, whoever did them just slapped the new ones over the old ones using caulk to hold it in place. Don'tcha just love the roofing material covering one? Hmpf!

After three different tries at getting these on, I've had success! Yay!! Here's what one looks like.

I mulched around the bushes, too. Not sure if it looks good, though. Opinions?

Summer Motif I

I received the round robin for Zarina in Malaysia this week. I started in on Friday night and finished it today. Summer Motif I is part of the Seasonal Motif II series by Brittercup Designs. Zarina chose an 18ct light tan aida and even included varigated floss to choose from in stitching the designs. It took me 8.5 hours to stitch. Here's what my portion looks like:

Here's what the entire piece looks like after Zarina, Rita in AZ, and I stitched our parts:

Marvelous Monday Update 4/26/08

Happy Dancin' here! My final grade in Business Law II was a "B". It was a *really* tough class for me. I am so relieved it's over and that I got a "B". Yay!

I also found out last week that my summer Investements class has been cancelled due to low enrollment. It's OK, though... it means I can get more stuff done around the house.

Stitchy Stuff
MY LNS called to say she had the last two double flip LK designs in... Encourage/Laugh and Create/Live. What was I saying about a stash diet? In my defense, those were ordered before the self-imposed diet.

I had a finish this week! Peace on Earth by Linda Stolz was a fun piece to stitch. It was a kit given to me by Shelleen. POE was stitched on 10ct gray aida with all specialty threads: two different mini suedes, fuzzy stuff, fyre works, perle cotton and over-dyed threads, plus included Mill Hill embellishments. It only took 6 hours to stitch up... pretty quick stitch.

Severe thunderstorms ripped through my area last night. For about 5 hours, there was loud thunder and lighnting and heavy rains and wind. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep!

Here's a cute bookmark freebie.

by Charles Craft

May 19, 2008

Marvelous Monday Update 5/19/08

I am finally FREE! Last Tuesday was my final class and test in B Law II. I think I did OK on the test. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will get a B for semester grade. I made a beeline for the bookstore the next day to sell my book back. I walked out with $93... not bad for a book that cost me $125 to begin with.

I just found out I got 93% in my Access class, an "A". Woo Hoo!

In a few weeks, I'll starting UL classes with my transfer college that has accelerated programs. All semesters are 8 weeks long, with classes lasting 5 hours each time. My textbook for Investments class came in the mail yesterday. Before the start of the semester, I have to "invest" $50K and keep track of my portfolio through the semester, reporting any changes. Anyone know of an online portfolio tracker?

New Motto
Trisha Yearwood's "American Girl" song is becoming my motto:

Phone rings, baby cries
TV, diet, guru, lies
Good morning honey
Go to work, make up
try to keep the balance up
Between love and money

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X's and O's
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She's tryin to make it in her daddy's world
An American girl
An American girl

Slow dance, second chance
mama needs romance
And an live-in maid

Fix the sink, mow the yard,
Really isn't all that hard
If you get paid

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X's and O's
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She's tryin to make it in her daddy's world
An American girl
An American girl

Well she's got her God
and she's got good wine
Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X's and O's
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She's gonna make it in her daddy's world
An American girl
An American girl
She's an American girl

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X's and O's
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
Shes gonna make it in her daddy's world
Shes an american girl yeah

Well she tied her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X's and O's
X's and O's, X's and O's

Weekly Accomplishments
• Mowed the yard TWICE. Maybe I should say I mowed the dandelion field that is supposed to be my yard.
• Dug out THREE large thistles with my handy dandy weed digger (mentioned in a previous post). That thing works great!
• Planted grass seed in areas that the plow guy chunked the grass out.
• Changed the oil in my car - Yes, I do it myself.
• Trimmed hedges that surround my entire house. Gotta love power tools! Had to use an 8ft step ladder to trim the top of one, and guess what? I didn't fall off the thing! (Who'da thought trimming bushes would make my tushie and thighs hurt?)
• Unpacked all the boxes marked "garage" in search of my hanging planter basket. It wasn't in ANY of the boxes. It was hidden behind a bunch of crap, I mean junk stuff stacked on the "work bench".
• Rearranged/organized stuff in the garage.
• Attempted to replace window well covers, but ended up with skinned knuckles instead. It was a short-lived project when I found out my 9v drill won't sink screws into brick.
• Re-did 1/2 the flower bed on the north side of the house.
• Planted 2 hanging baskets, and one container arrangement.
• Gave myself a pedicure, but it was ruined after all the gardening I did wearing sandals. Yes, I know... smart. LOL

A gracious lady from Freecycle gave me all these perrenials.

Irises, Hostas, Periwinkle

Mums & Lily of the Valley

These I bought last week:

Hostas... Tomatoes... Lobelia. Forsynthia are in the plastic bags. I was driving down a street and a sign near someone's sidewalk said: "Free Forsynthia" so I stopped and got them. They're pretty tiny, so I put them in gallon pots and will see how they'll do.

This is what the north side of the house looked like sans all the dandelions I removed last week.

I had to first remove 2" of rock that was used a mulch and hasn't been maintained in many years. Plastic was sticking up through many places and soil was mixed in with the rock. I carried the rock by bucketfuls to the backyard where I dumped it behind some of the hedges. My thought is that maybe it will help to keep the soil from washing away there. After most of the rock was removed, I had the wonderful job of digging up the ground which was mainly clay. Then came peat moss, topsoil, and manure. The entire time I was wishing I had one of those mini cultivators! Six hours later, this is what I came up with:

I still have the other half of it to do. I'm not sure what I want to plant in that area. These flowers are growing there, and as usual, I have no idea what they are.

Columbine, maybe?

For the next 2 hours, I planted most of plants from the Freecycle lady and mowed the yard. By the end of all the yardwork, my ENTIRE body hurt. I think the only parts that didn't hurt were my face and my toes. LOL I think I overdid it... :(

Deal of the Week
On a whim, I stopped by the thrift store. I found a Sunbeam Oskar with food processor and salad shooter/shredder/chopper attachments. It had a price tag on it of $1.99! Right next to it on the shelf was another one for $3.99 but it only had the food processor attachment. I half expected to get it home and it not work, but it DID! I looked online and they sell on ebay for $40-139. Last summer, I bought a cheapo chopper for $14.99 and promptly took it back because it sucked! I am SO happy with my new find. Can't beat the $1.99 price tag!

Freebie of the Week
Last, but not least.... Here's a stitchy freebie:

Pumpkin Scissors Fob
by Jeanette Douglas Designs

May 15, 2008

Baby Celeste

I came across these photos of Baby Celeste when I was organizing my hard drive. Back then she was known as Elie. At 4 months of age, Baby Celeste traveled all the way from Oregon to Illinois to be with me. Prior to her arrival, her mommy at Gemini Poms sent me a bunch of photos of my soon-to-be "baby" and her parents.

Daddy Spencer

Mommy Dotty

Wasn't Celeste a cute baby?

Gonna Get That Ball!

With her siblings

I think she knew she was cute, even then!

Celeste is now almost 5yrs old and a happy, entertaining girl. More photos of Celeste can be seen HERE.

SBQ - A Language All Our Own

For seasoned stitchers: Define a stitching term or acronym for new stitchers. For newbies: What stitching term or acronym would you like defined?

The timing is just perfect for this SBQ. At least for me. Last night, while talking to a friend, I said something about my "stash". After assurance that this was not illegal, I said "We have a language all our own." Can you believe this person asked me if there was a 12-Step Program?! LOL

For my answer, I'm going to refer to a previous post entitled: UFO's PMS and SEX. It's also listed in my sidebar under How-To named Acronyms.

May 12, 2008

Marvelous Monday Update 5/12/08

Wa-Hoo! One class down, one to go. I did my presentation for the Access class, and has show-n-tell for my cross stitch projects. It was great hearing all the ooh's and ahh's along with amazement in regards to the projects I've done. In addition to my Finishes album, I took JG and Pink Carnations in to show. Everyone was SO impressed! :)

Yesterday, I took time and removed all the weeds from the flower bed on the side of the house. Mostly, it was full of dandelions.

I bought a dandelion weeder on Saturday. That thing works pretty darn good! I'd seen them before and didn't know what they were used for. Now I do! I can't imagine going around my entire yard digging at dandelions, though!

I found more flowers coming up that I have no idea what they are, but they're pretty.

As I was shopping for a Mother's Day gift for my mom, I picked myself up a few things... the dandelion weeder, a gardening shovel, two hanging baskets, 3 tomato plants, cucumber seeds, and 6 hosta plants. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

Last week I forgot to post (shame on me!).

Stitching Days
by Glory Bee

Good Mail Day

I received two packages in the mail on Friday! Look what I received:

Shelleen had a giveaway on her blog a while back. It's a kit called Peace on Earth by The Silver Needle. There's all sorts of fun fibers and beads. I plan on doing this as my May ornament SAL.

This next package was too big for my PO box, so I had to go to the counter. The clerk commented on the pretty picture on the envelope. I probably had a quizzicle look on my face as I looked to see who it was from. My friend Lisa in CT. I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened it to find a beautiful handmade card, pinkeep, and scissor fob... all in pretty pastels. I was absolutely stunned that she thought of me, that I got all teary-eyed and everything! I loved everything and the card sits in display on my fireplace mantle. Thank you, Lisa!

Front of Card

Back of Card

Inside of Card

Pinkeep & Scissor Fob
Aren't they beautiful?

In reading Lisa's blog, I have found out the Amitie/Friendship design is by Windy Willows You'll need to translate from Japanese to English to read it.

May 8, 2008

Results - Part II

Last month, I had my final screening for the Get Fit Challenge. This month, my employer sponsored a Health Fair. Hospital staff were brought in to measure BMI (body mass index), cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, and new this year: bone density testing.

Bone density testing uses ultrasound waves to determine bone strength. A positive score means bone density is higher than the average density of young adults. A lower score indicates below average. Most adults over 35 experience bone density loss. The lower the score, the higher the risk for fractures and osteoporosis.

The nurse had to use ultrasound gel on me (as opposed to the spray she used on everyone else). She told me: “You must have really good bones because the machine isn’t taking a reading with the spray.” Sure enough: +2.3 score.

Other results were as follows (compared to last months Get Fit scores):

• Weight: Lost 2.2 lbs – Not bad considering I’ve been slacking on exercise
BMI: Went down .2 points
• Cholesterol: Went up 9 points – more than likely that’s due to eating breakfast when I should’ve fasted (Hey, I was hungry... and I forgot!)
• Glucose: 96 points (normal range should be below 200)
• Blood Pressure: the lower number was a little high compared to their standards, but fine compared to my local hospital’s standards. Could be due to stress (Think I have any?)

My scores probably would've been worse had my coworkers not "saved" me when they saw a cup of coffee laden with sugar in my hand.

Them: "You're not drinking THAT are you?"

Me: "Well, uh, yeah... I'm tired" LOL

Them: "You can't have that."

Me: "Why not?"

Them: "We have the health fair. You're supposed to fast. That caffeine and sugar is going to mess up your scores."

Me: "Well, crap. I guess I'll dump it out then. Water just doesn't cut it when you need a "pick me up". LOL Oh, and I ate breakfast, too."

Overall, I was pleased and it gives me incentive to continue on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Nancy – How are you doing on the weight loss?? (Had to ask!)

May 6, 2008

Bacon Stuffed Tomatoes

Sharon in FL asked if I would share the recipe, so here goes:


2 pints cherry tomatoes
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
16oz. pkg. bacon, crisply cooked, drained, and crumbled

Cut the top off each cherry tomato, and using a melon baller or a sharp knife, carefully scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place each tomato upside down on paper towel to drain. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Stuff each cherry tomato with the bacon mixture. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to blend flavors. To serve, I like to line the serving tray with parsley to keep the little tomatoes from rolling around. It's very pretty too. Serves 8

• I substituted Miracle Whip for mayonaise.
• I also substituted packaged shredded Parmesan/Asiano cheese for the freshly shredded. I crumbled it into smaller pieces with my hands.
• You'll want to use the larger cherry tomatoes and the smaller end of the melon baller. Trust me... I ruined a few tomatoes through trial and error. LOL

The photo is the one that came with the recipe. Mine looked neater than those. LOL The recipe really doesn't make a lot so if you're having a big crowd, you may want to double it. You could probably make these the night before. I made them about 5 hours ahead of time, and stacked them in tiers on a plate.

For a vegetarian version of this recipe, try substituting cashews or diced avocado for the bacon.

May 5, 2008

Stash Galore

A few months ago, I met a lady through Freecycle who said she had a bunch of cross stitch stuff but it was packed in boxes and she didn't have time go through all the boxes at that time. She said she'd go through it and get back to me. In the meantime, every few weeks I received an email from her telling me that she hadn't forgotten and updated me on the latest happenings in her life... planning a wedding, buying a house, moving, etc. The day finally came that she found most of her stash and we arranged for her to drop it off at my house today! During my face-to-face conversation with her, she told me how glad she was to find someone to take it because she was just going to THROW IT AWAY. Can you believe that?!?

I haven't really had a chance to look at everything, but I did take pics of everything:


More Fabric


More Charts



Before she left, she asked me "Would you want anything else if I find the rest?" I said: "Sure!" LOL

Meari's Marvelous Monday Update 5/5/08

Maybe I should say: Yummies that almost wasn't. I decided that I wanted to make Bourbon Glazed Salmon, which requires marinading the fish. No problem. I put everything in a ziploc bag over my lunch hour, and headed back to work. After work, I set about making the salmon. No problem. I'd read that if you boiled marinade you could you use for a sauce. Therein was the problem... Instead of boiling in a pan, on the stove, I decided to microwave it for 3 minutes. THREE MINUTES! While it microwaved, I continued to prepare the meal. In less than three minutes, I smelled something... Couldn't figure it out. I happened to glance at the microwave and I couldn't see the bowl! I opened the microwave and white smoke ROLLED out of it like a foggy haze. No, I didn't melt the bowl (it was glass). The sugar in the marinade crystalized and started burning. OMG, it smelled sooooo bad and my eyes were watering! I had to open the front door, side door, and the kitchen window.

In addition, now my microwave smells like burnt bourbon and brown sugar. I've tried everything... microwaving it with vinegar, microwaving water, cleaning with softscrub, cleaning with vinegar. It's dimished the smell, but every time I use the microwave it gets worse. :(

With that said.... I did get a good meal out of it:

Bourbon Glazed Salmon & Grilled Summer Squash

Sighs heard 'round the world! I swear over half the class sighed in relief when they found out their test scores last Tues night. Most passed. I was thrilled... absolutely thrilled to learn that I received a B! Three tests down... One to go! Our last test is considered our final, but it's not cumulative (thank goodness). Because we missed a couple days due to snow, we're making it up this week. Class tonight and tomorrow night... Ugh, that's over 6 hours of lecture over two nights. Next week will be the last test, I imagine since it's the end of Finals Week.

I got some other good news from the school I am transferring to. I went to see the advisor last night before my B Law class. Apparently, all of my Gen Ed requirements are done and 8 of the business classes I've taken qualify for the core requirement classes... which means I only have 9 core classes to take. In addition, 8 of the other business classes I've taken qualify toward the 9 required electives which means I only have to take 2 other classes to satisfy that requirement. To top it all off, I can complete a DOUBLE major with Accounting AND Finance. How cool is that?!? The advisor informed me that if I wanted to take two classes at a time, I could finish in about a year and half -or- 2½ years doing one class at a time.

Ain't she cute? If she weren't so adorable, I'm sure the local squirrels wouldn't pick fights with her. Squirrel in tree, Celeste on the ground. Bark-Bark-Bark! up at the squirrel. Chatter-Chatter-Chatter! down to the dog. This is what I have to deal with. LOL!

Dogs have it made, don't they?

I managed to clean out the dead stuff from my planted containers that I brought from my other house when I moved. They're ready for the new plants. :)

The rest of my tulips have finally bloomed. These are the pink ones I planted last Fall. I don't know what the purple flowers are. They were planted by the previous owner(s).

Social Life? What's that?!? This weekend, I actually felt like I had a social life. LOL

On Saturday, I had a lunch date with M. He’s the one from the ‘burbs of Chicago and brought me salt when all the stores here were sold out last winter. The date was nice and the awkwardness of previous dates didn’t seem to be there. At least not for me, anyway. He asked if I was willing to get together over the summer after my classes were finished. I think he’s a good guy and I have a lot of respect for him. Not many men impress me like that.

On Sunday, my coworker hosted the “2nd annual Get Fit” BBQ. It was a lot of fun! The food was fabulous! Most people brought a dish to pass, which made it easier on the host and hostess. I brought Bacon Stuffed Tomato appetizers. Every person who tried them told me they were really good. :)