Oct 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Me (Princess), My Oldest Bro (Football Player),
My Sis (Daffy), My Baby Bro (Devil) - circa 1977-78

Daffy and Devil started out being costumes for us older kids. When we outgrew them, they were passed down to the younger ones. Each year after Halloween, they were put back into the boxes they came in from the store. My parents then put them away until the next year. We wore those costumes for years!

Oct 27, 2008

Marvelous Monday Update 10/27/08

Fallen and Can’t Get Up
“I’ve fallen and can’t get up!” How many of us remember that popular TV commercial? Years ago, I tripped over the sidewalk in my front yard, twisted my ankle, couldn’t get up, and had to call my sister to come take me to the ER. Ever since that time, she mocks me by saying: “I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” Anyone who’s known me for a long time, knows my propensity for clumsiness and hurting myself.

Last week, I swept the leaves out of my garage... the hazards of leaving the garage door open all day. As I took a step backwards, I tripped over a pallet and fell backwards onto my rump... lots ‘o padding, no damage there... but did manage to scrape my elbow on the corner of the pallet before it smacked down onto the concrete. In retrospect, it’s probably good the pallet broke the fall of the elbow. So, I’ve been nursing abrasions, bumps, and bruising on my elbow. Once again: I’ve fallen...

Just Call Me Grace
“Good going, Grace”… That’s the nickname my family has dubbed me due to my clumsiness, as previously mentioned. Last Wednesday morning, the C-gene reared it’s ugly head. In my rush to get ready for work, I slammed... not just stubbed, but slammed.. my baby toe into the door jam going into the bathroom. I have a high pain tolerance, but it was all I could do to make it to my sofa and sit down. “Deep breath... breathe it out... In and out... Yeah, that’s it.” That’s what I was telling myself while pain was screaming out from the end of my toe. I actually felt light headed for a bit. Fifteen minutes later, I could finally breathe normally and was able to move my toes. I didn’t break it, not that anything could’ve been done if I had. “Pinkie” let me know all day that she did *not* like having the end of the shoe push against her whenever I walked around. Turns out, I bruised the joint where the foot connects to the toe. Ouchie.

Freecycle Update
Much to my surprise, I received a response to my email to the state’s outreach coordinator asking what happened. I wrote a long email back detailing all the ways that the “owners” do not follow Freecycle guidelines for sanctioned groups. In my email, I included copies of emails received from the “owners” as evidence against them. (There's something to be said about the CYA folder) At this point, I don’t really care if I’m re-instated or not... at least the outreach coordinator has the information.

There seems to be some confusion as to the "dating" stories I've posted lately. They are NOT mine! LOL... I know I've had some doozies, but at the bottom of each post is a notation where the story came from. I post them because I find them extremely funny... and true. Sometimes, I'll leave commentary. Other times I won't.

Had some wacky weather this past weekend. Saturday was pretty nice: Sunny with temps around 51F. A switch was flipped on Sunday as the cold front came through. Mostly gray and overcast, winds whipping around so hard that my backyard is filled with small tree branches and I could hear the house creaking and groaning. The sun came out briefly and then came a downburst of rain and snow. Sun, wind, rain & snow... imagine that!

Froggie Froggie

I couldn't pass this little guy up when I saw him while shopping. There's a button on the back of his head that makes a realistic froggie sound and turns on a little green light under his chin. It's got a tiny keychain clip that would be perfect for scissors. Isn't he cute?

I came across an interesting giveaway being sponsored by Jo-Jo at A Mom's World of Madness and Blessings. It's her first one, so if you like giveaways, check it out. :)

Stitchy Stuff
I finished both Joy's into ornaments. Only one is pictured, but they both look the same. The oval shape was a bit of a trick to accomplish, but I succeeded!

Designer: ???
Fabric: 14ct white opalescent aida
Fibers: DMC floss
Time: 3 Hrs to Stitch
Embellishments: Pre-made cording

Update: This ornie winged it's way over the big pond to the UK and now has a new home with Sharon for the ornament exchange on the CSC board.

Oct 22, 2008

Worst First Date #7 - Best Conversationalist

A few weeks ago, I went on a date with a guy who spent 3 hours discussing the technical minutiae of computer installation.

I got lost after the first five minutes, couldn't ask any questions because I didn't have a clue what he was saying, just kept saying "mmhmm", and he decided I was the best conversationalist he'd met in years!

Adding insult to injury, when the date was over, he expected me to pay half. I am willing to go out with a bore a second time, to see if he was just nervous on the first date, but I'm not willing to pay for the privilege of being bored stiff!

From: So Suave

Oct 21, 2008

Duty Relief

I’ve been moderator for my local Freecycle group for over two years, and have done 95% of the work to ensure the group ran smoothly and according to the rules the Freecycle organization has in place. During the years I moderated, I tried on several occasions to contact the “owners” of the group with no avail. All I had was a generic “owner” email address and no one ever responded. So I used the website set up by the Freecycle organization to moderate the group. Several months ago, chaos erupted when the “owners” suddenly appeared on the radar and appointed a new moderator who caused all sorts of problems on the group. This person was banned, and others were appointed. In my mind, I often questioned *where* these moderators came from since there was never any posting on the group asking for volunteers. It has been brought up in the past that these mods were family members of the “owners”. In addition, they obviously didn’t read the moderator “rules and responsibilities” set forth by Freecycle. With the “owners” and new moderators, inconsistencies in moderation caused problems to arise. I did my part to bring these issues to the attention of the “owners” and was met with disapproval. It was at this point, I seriously started questioning my involvement in a group where the “owners” did not want input, nor were their intentions to be consistent in moderation or following the rules the Freecycle organization set forth in order to be sanctioned by them.

During this same time period, I was admitted to the international moderators group where mods “met” to discuss issues with moderating Freecycle groups, and found that my moderation techniques were in line with other Freecycle groups.

While I feel the premise of Freecycle is a good one, and I like to do my part in re-use/recycle, and helping the community in general… the mentality of my local group is “Gimme, gimmee, gimmee” and there are those who don’t have the common courtesy to pick up items when they said they wanted them (common complaint among members). The “owners” seriously lack communication, (Freecycle) education, and support skills.

Late last night, I received a generic message from Yahoo that my membership status on the Freecycle group was changed from “moderator” to “member”. Did I mention lack of communication on the part of the “owners”? Shortly after that, I received a short email stating: “You may remain a member, but your services as moderator are no longer needed.” LOL, this came from the “owner” who not even two months ago was singing praises to me about taking care of the group.

It really should not have come as a surprise to me, and I was a bit shocked at the time. I took a moment to write a well thought out response to the “owners” and the state outreach coordinator, not that I expect anything to come of it. That’s just what I do when I feel injustice has been done… I write letters.

Upon waking up this morning, I was kinda relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the complaints about other freecyclers and more recently, questioning from the “owners” as to why I rejected this post or that post. I am still contemplating whether or not to remain a member, whether to start a new group, or to become more active in the other group that works on the same premise but aren’t sanctioned by Freecycle.

Oct 20, 2008

Marvelous Monday - P.S.

It was just announed that I am the featured Blogger-of-the-Month for the stitchingbloggers group. How great is that?! Definitely a Marvelous Monday!

Thank you, Sharon!

Marvelous Monday Update 10/20/08

Calling All Chocoholics!
Several weeks ago, Cynthia shared a recipe for chocolate cake in a mug. I tried the recipe as posted and it didn't take quite right to me, nor did it have the airy texture of cake. It was more like a heavier bread. So, I played around with the recipe until it was more to my liking. This is perfect for one, and could be a fun thing to do with kids.


1 microwave-safe coffee mug
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3 1/2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. chocolate chips (optional)

Add dry ingredients to mug; mix well with fork. Add egg; mix thoroughly. Add milk, oil, and vanilla; mix well. Optional: 3 Tbsp. of chocolate chips may be added at this point, but they sink to the bottom of the mug. Place mug in microwave and cook for 3 minutes on 1000 watts. Cake will rise above top of mug -- This is normal. Allow to cool a little; tip onto plate if desired. Enjoy!

• I tried it twice with chocolate chips and didn't like the results. The chips sink to the bottom of the cup and tasted like they were overcooked.
• I was thinking that some melted frosting drizzled over the top might be scrumptous, afterall... with all those calories, what's a few more?!

Per Serving: 982 Calories (holy crap!); 62g Fat (53.5% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 106g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 218mg Cholesterol; 100mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 11 1/2 Fat; 5 Other Carbohydrates. 23.6 points on WW
• Cutting down to 1 T oil changes it to: 741 Calories; 34g Fat (39.1% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 106g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 218mg Cholesterol; 100mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 6 Fat; 5 Other Carbohydrates. 16.45 points on WW.
• Substitutions 1/4 c. eggbeaters for egg; 1/4 c. applesauce for oil. Per Serving: 451 Calories; 7g Fat (13.8% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 93g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 113mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat; 4 Other Carbohydrates.

Dad Saves The Day!
A few weeks ago I had a "slight" problem measuring and cutting the doorsweep for my front door, resulting in major frustration on my part. Disgusted with myself, I left everything laying on the floor. My Dad came to visit me last weekend and being Mr. Fix-It/DIY (now you know where *I* get it from), he asked what I was "working on". I told him the whole sordid tale, upon which he said, "Well, will it fit the backdoor? They're usually smaller than the front door." Huh. We checked to see if the "too short" doorsweep would fit the backdoor. Sure enough, Dad was right. Dad's are SO smart, aren't they?

So this week, I put the sweeps against each door and drew lines with a black marker... rather than relying upon my measurement skills, as we all know how good I am at that... and drove to my parents' house to have Dad cut them with the proper tool, tin snips. It was a 2-minute job, but at least they don't look like the ends went through a shredder. Both sweeps are now installed and look pretty darn good!

I also bought and installed some of the white, inexpensive plastic/rubber doorsweeps for my French doors that lead to the four season room. Since the doors are white, they blend right in. Last winter, I noticed a lot of cold air came from that room. No trouble with those -- cut with scissors, peel and stick! Can't get much easier than that.

Worth The Investment
Seven years ago, I'd moved into an apartment where the landlords said they just had the carpets cleaned. Looking at the carpets, I didn't believe them and bought a Bissell ProHeat Steam Cleaner (II is on the market now). It did a marvelous job -- I had to go over the carpet at least 5 times before the water in the bucket was somewhat clean. To think the landlord *just* had the carpets cleaned. Uh huh.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I cleaned my living room carpet... the only area in my house that has carpet. Even though I cleaned it a year ago when I moved in, it (apparently) got quite dirty. I went over it 3 times with the deep cleaning solution, and then once with vinegar to deodorize. Since I had to carry it up from the basement, I figured I might as well clean my sofa too. I could definitely tell a difference after I was finished with both.

The Bissell ProHeat Steam Cleaner is one of the better carpet cleaning models on the market. Over the years, my parents and I have tried various consumer grade cleaners and they didn't do as good of a job and didn't hold up over time. One of the best features of this cleaner is this: It offers an onboard heater. The water stays hot and works to remove carpet soil. It's fairly easy to assemble, and not difficult to use. A 2-in-1 bladder/bucket is filled with water and a smaller container is filled with carpet cleaning solution -- this is also where I put white vinegar.

It's recommended that two or more passes will be needed to thoroughly remove all the soil and moisture. Dirty water is then collected in the bladder and when full must be dumped out. Thorough cleaning of very soiled carpets can greatly add to the anticipated time to clean a room, so be sure to set aside an hour or more to clean one moderately sized room.

The ProHeat also has an onboard attachment that can be used to clean stairs and upolstery. I haven't used it to clean stairs, but I have used it to clean my sofa several times. The attachment can also be used to apply Scotchguard to fabrics.

I used mine a couple times a year when I lived in my apartment where every room was carpeted. Since my current home only has one carpeted room, it doesn't take as long but I use it just as often. After having used it for 7 years, it still does a great job -- definitely a good investment.

Hangin' Up There
It's a good thing I decided to do this project because I found that the window behind my headboard was open about an inch. All of last winter, whenever the wind blew, I heard rattling outside my bedroom window. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it wasn't *outside* the house! I have double hung windows and the previous owner(s) had opened the top of the window about 3" and with the blinds pulled, I never knew it. So ALL winter, the window in my bedroom was open and the rattling I heard was actually the bottom of the blinds banging against the window sill. Since it was behind my headboard, I never saw it. No wonder it was so COLD in my room all the time! So *what* project am I referring to?

I spent several hours installing decorative rods and hanging drapes in my bedroom. For the past year, I've "lived" with the blue floral valances that came with the house. I unpacked the drapes and swags I had in my bedroom at the apartment -- since they've been in a box for a year, wrinkles galore permeated each and every piece. Out came the iron which made the job last even longer, but can't have wrinkled drapes, can we?

I debated about whether to expand the drapes behind the headboard to match the width of the headboard, or leave it centered over the window and wall (like it shows in the photo). Opinions?

I still need to paint the room to add a bit of color, but that's going to have to wait for another year.

I finally took some time to pull out my vegetable garden. All that's left is an empty plot covered with mulched leaves. Next year, I am investing in a mini-cultivator rather than turning the soil with a shovel. My planters still look pretty good. I'm amazed at how HUGE they've gotten!

July 2008

October 2008

Stitchy Stuff
Not much stitching this past week. I have two ornies sitting on my diningroom table waiting to be finished into actual ornaments. One is for me, one is for an exchange.

Oct 13, 2008

Marvelous Monday Update 10/13/08

Northern Illinois had the most gorgeous weather over the weekend! Temps were 15+ degrees above normal... in the lower 80's. Forecasters are calling for rain today and tomorrow, but the rest of the week will be in the 70's. I'll take that, too!

Stitchy Stuff
It was announced that I was the Finish it Up! Contest winner for last quarter in one of my online stitching groups! Woo Hoo! The contest is to encourage members with UFO's to finish them up. I forgot I even entered, so I was excited to learn I won a gift certificate to an LNS of my choice. I chose Needle in a Haystack since I already have a gift card with them.

I worked on Treasured Memories Quilt Afghan (TMQ) last week. I finished the Dresden Plate:

I started and finished the Friendship Tree:

Here's what the entire afghan looks like so far:

I started another quilt square motif, but I can't remember what it is. You can see a bit of it on the middle left side.

Still Unpacking
I've been in my house a year now, and I'm *still* unpacking boxes. I decided yesterday afternoon to re-arrange my bedroom, which entailed removing the mirror from my long dresser. You might wonder: What's the big deal about that? When attached to the dresser, the height is 7 1/2 feet tall. The mirror itself is about 5ft all and 4 1/2 ft wide. Big, heavy, and awkward but I managed to get the mirror off without hurting myself (LOL) or breaking it. After that, I was able to move the dresser in front of the big picture window in my room. Next weekend, the goal is to hang my framed artwork and put my drapes up.

Where does the unpacking fit into all this? I had a ton... OK, maybe not a ton (about 10 boxes)... that have been stacked in my room for lack of better place. I unpacked/consolidated 4 boxes. It's always fun to unpack things and think: "Oh, so that's where *that* was!" I'd found stuff I'd been looking for and had no idea where it was.

I figured since I had to remove all the boxes from my room in order to move the dresser, I may as well clean under the bed. How can so many dust bunnies and furballs accumulate under there? I was thoroughly disgusted since I try to clean under the bed whenever I sweep. I think the bunnies and furries are reproducing when I'm not looking.

Ever notice how one little job turns into a big one? Or, maybe I just have ADD and get easily distracted, LOL.

Oct 9, 2008

Worst First Date #6 - Cheap Date

I was set up on a "blind date" with a friend of mine -- great looking guy, total sweetheart, and someone I'd always adored. To me (and to him), it was such a natural and yet surprising situation -- "of course, how could I have failed to see what was right in front of me?" We made a plan to attend a school formal that same weekend, and were so thrilled by the surprising shift in our relationship status that we made plans to have lunch away from campus the next day.

He came to pick me up and we drove to a slightly dumpy Italian restaurant -- I was trying to think the best, shifting "dumpy" to "charming and rustic" in my mind. We were the ONLY two people being served. So, my friend says, "Hey, I have a coupon for this place." Then he proceeds to say that, in fact, he has TWO coupons, and that we can redeem them both (they were for a free lunch entree) IF WE DON'T SIT AT THE SAME TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I proceed to demur: "No, we have to sit together -- we're on a date! Don't worry, I'll pay." He tries to convince me to stick with his plan: "After all, we're the only two in here, and we can sit at adjoining tables.", but eventually resolves his inner dilemma by letting me pick up the check.

I was mortified and totally turned off. Nothing kills the glow quicker than obnoxious cheapness.

From: HowToDate.com

Oct 6, 2008

Marvelous Monday Update 10/6/08

Stitchy Stuff
Last Monday, I met with D, who is a member of my local Freecycle group, to give her the flatfold "Peace Love and a Cure". She really liked it! D kept saying, "It's so pretty!" I was thrilled to find out she used to stitch. She gave it up during chemo because she said she couldn't concentrate on anything... stitching, reading, not even TV. D and I had a nice chat over smoothies (yum!). We talked about gardening and Freecycle. LOL, we went on and on and on about Freecycle (her experiences and mine as moderator). Before we knew it, the hour was up and she had to get to her eye doctor and I back to work. I had the feeling we could've talked for hours. A couple days after our meeting, D sent me an e-card and she wrote:

"I want to again thank you so very much for the beautiful cross stitch picture you made for me. I am so touched that you would do that for me. The cancer was an experience I would never want to relive but the kindness and wonderful people I've met make it less painful. People like you are why :) Please keep in touch ! I so enjoyed our "tea."

Wasn't that the sweetest thing? She's such a nice lady.

I started working on my UFO called Treasured Memories Afghan Quilt. It comes from The Cross Stitcher magazine. I started this project back in 1997. This will be my next BAP UFO to finish. (Cheer me on, Nancy. LOL Or, prod me in the rear!) Progress as of 12/2005 can be seen HERE. Since that time, I've finished the pinwheel and am 2/3 done with a dresden plate. I'm thinking about changing the center to a poem I found back then, but I need to figure out how to chart something that big onto afghan fabric. Ideas, anyone?

You're probably tired of hearing about my "wonder tool" as Petra puts it, and technically this isn't about the crop-a-dile itself, but about the eyelets. I had several packages laying around taking up more space than I wanted, and I'd been contemplating how to "lose" the packaging and keep all the eyelets in one place. So, I went digging into one of my many boxes yet to be unpacked and found this:

It works out perfectly!

I also spent a little time stitching on Believe. Not a lot of change to show.

One of the groups I'm in coordinated a Blind Ornament Exchange. No, the ornaments aren't blind... well, maybe they are... I don't know! LOL Each person stitched an ornament, sent it to the coordinator along with a postage paid envelope to send back another a stitched ornament from someone else. Mine was from Gabi in Australia. As I recall, it was Gabi's first time doing a triangle ornie and I think it turned out beautifully. Thank you, Gabi!

I started -and- finished my October ornament for the SAL's I'm participating in. Actually, I stitched two of the same one over the weekend. I'll get some pics when I actually make the into ornies.

Getting Fit
Week before last, my routine became a dismal failure, as I spent my free time studying for that darn test. I only worked out one time. But hey, one is better than none, right? This week I didn't do much better:

• WAYW DVD 3miles (cardio/strength training) 48 minutes
• CS Sexy Abs (ab workout) 15 minutes
• WAYW DVD 3miles (cardio/strength training) 48 minutes

What can I say??? The instructor always starts on the other side of the room when he passes back the tests/scores so I get to hear the moans and groans of students as they see how they did. It doesn't do much for my morale, I can say that! Simulatenously, I look at my score and hear the "smart" guy say he got 27 on the MC. My score was 26 and I quickly tried to figure out the percentage as I flipped through the test to get my score for the essay and definition portion. You can't even imagine my reaction when I realized I got a.......

After some discussion about the MC questions, the instructor gave us credit for a couple of them, which bumped my score to a nice solid B! Apparently, my random choices, and scribbled essay answers had some merit... and talk about relief on my part. I *seriously* thought I'd be lucky to get a C and realistically thought I got a D. (Even told one of my nieces I got a D. LOL)

Stocking Up
Thanks to a Freecycle member, I got a heads up on a HUGE 1-day meat sale going on at one of the local grocery stores. People were like piranhas in the meat section! In order to get the deals, meat had to be purchased in bulk. I spent 20 minutes standing in a line to have my bulk beef cut into steaks. Normally $15/lb, I was able to snag NY Strip Steak for $4.99/lb. Chicken was 89c/lb. Pork Loin chops/roast was $1.69/lb. I came home with 50lbs of meat and spent two hours packaging it into normal serving size packages. It all went into the freezer for this winter.

With that preface, here's what I made Saturday night:

I ended up saving half the steak for breakfast the next day... Just couldn't eat it all.

Oct 3, 2008

PIF #2

I received word that my second PIF was received. What's a PIF? How does it work? Check it out HERE.

I actually finished it on 8/28/08. For Lynn in TX:

Snow Poem Tree by Erynne
Time: 15.75 hrs to stitch, 2 hrs to finish
Fabric: 18ct white aida
Fibers: Anchor 1345, DMC 964
Embellishments: Handmade cording
(DMC Pearle 518), 1/8" ribbon, eyelets

Lynn really liked it! "I went to the mail box just now and there was a gift from Meari! It's that SNOWFLAKE POEM I posted this morning. There it was, all stitched up in ready to go on my wall. It is gorgeous! Meari's stitching is perfect, puts mine to shame. Every stitch perfectly placed. You can't appreciate the work until you hold it. I OWN AN ORIGINAL MEARI! Thank you, thank you. ~Lynn, smiling so broadly"

PIF #1 - Rene