Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I HATE to Shop

I know I am an anomaly -- a woman who hates to shop!

I am talking about the shopping done in malls,-- physically going from store to store, trying on clothes, waiting in line, writing a check, etc. etc. For me, it's a waste of valuable time.

Luckily I have discovered online clothes shopping. Much to husband's chagrin, I have no aversion to shopping on line. I love to click, click, click and within the week boxes appear full of wonderful items like these that I ordered today:

I am in need of brightly colored jackets for summer. I think my early morning shopping spree turned up a few nice ones. (Yes, I did buy two of the very same jacket, only different colors. I do that all the time.)

This whole order took less than 15 minutes of my time.

I know many of you are probably thinking that it's very expensive to order online with all those shipping charges. I admit it can be. But I only buy when they are on sale for at least 50% off. If I can buy them for about the same as it would cost at the local JC Penney (which is about the only clothing store I shop in), then I click without regret.

I know online shopping is not for everyone, but I am so happy that I discovered it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Willow stopped by and left this comment:

Hopped by to see if Good Friday might find a gardening post and found the wonderful deck decorations going strong. You do know you are an inspiration to many. Blessings at Easter!


First, thanks for hopping in, Willow. It's always nice to see you. A double thanks for the kind comment. It would make me very happy to know that I inspired someone in some positive manner. I think in the past I may have inspired some negative behavior in a few people
Ah, those were the days! Just kidding, you all know I would never do improper things.

It made me chuckle to know that you were thinking you may find a gardening post on Good Friday. I am afraid you are just a little early to find one. We still have large snowbanks. This morninig it was only 10 degrees and a bit more snow fell overnight.

Even though it will be weeks before there is much gardening in northern Michigan, I have changed my header to a garden theme. Maybe it will give good karma and the weather gods will smile upon Northeast Michigan. We can only hope.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Table is Set, the Menu is Done

and nobody is coming for dinner.

Yes, I have the table set, the menu ready, and I am NOT even cooking!

I like to prepare far in advance, so I made this menu about three weeks ago when I thought I would be hosting the Easter dinner. As it turns out we are going to my MIL's for dinner. Every other year she has had an early brunch, so I assumed I would go there, then come home and cook dinner for my family later in the day.

It's a shame that I won't be using that cute menu frame.

I still need to make something to take and am debating whether to make the coconut lemon cake. It's a three layer concoction--homemade cake with homemade lemon curd between the layers and homemade coconut frosting. At the moment it seems like too much work. There will be way too much food (there is every year) and we all end up bringing home most of what we took....so I am not inclined to work that hard on something that will not get eaten. I may opt for something easier.

I will be removing the Easter table setting today since I won't be needng it tomorrow. I am eager to try out one of my new table runners...probably the yellow/brown one. Now if only I can find some pussy willows and forsythia for a centerpiece. I saw that on Jean's blog and just loved the combination.

Is everybody busy cooking today?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Designing Table Runners

I have really been enjoying designing table runners to match some of the dishes I own.

I decided to make a runner to coordinate with these green plaid plates that I bought two years ago at the Farmer's Market garage sale day.

I took a 4.5 inch block and changed it until it looked similar to the dish pattern. Before starting to sew I put a bunch of the pieces together to see what design I would end up with. I wasn't sure it would work. It's pretty hard to tell what it will look like without the colored fabric.

I decided I'd make a few blocks just to see what I had.

I was very pleasantly surprised.

I think this may be my favorite so far.

I still need to decide whether to make a triangle piece for each end. I really don't like my runners to just end in a straight line, but this one may be an exception because it's so much wider than I normally like. I felt like I needed the extra width to get a good pattern design.

I wanted to take a vacation day today, but the Big Kahuna thought I should be at work. That's what happens when you wait until the last minute to request a vacation day. I guess he didn't feel like going in early to cover for me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Long Lost Treasures Resurface

It's amazing how much jewelry I have that I never wear. About ten years ago I was "into" jewelry and bought quite a bit of it.

This past weekend I was going through jewelry boxes and found some nice silver pieces that were pretty tarnished. I decided to clean them up and start wearing them again.

This set of four different stoned rings is pretty cute.

I had completely forgotten about this very long necklace. I delicately twisted it into the cleaning liquid and let it sit about 15 minutes.

It now sparkles against this black top.

This is the cleaner I used.

I've always liked the chevron necklace above, but it had a clasp that would not tightly close so I have not been able to wear it. I got out some tweezers and a pair of cuticle scissors and poked, pushed, and squeezed until I finally got it twisted into a workable shape so it would hold tightly.

I now have quite a few more pieces of wearable jewelry. I found pieces I didn't even remember owning. I think I will continue the search next weekend as there are other places I have not looked in for years. I am sure to find other long lost treasures!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sometimes a shortcut, isn't

While rummaging through my basement fabric stash, I came across a bag with 2 of these huge green pillows.

My brain was immediately lit by the flash of a light bulb.

Why not use one of these for my big deck pillow?

I do love to find a use for things I should have tossed, but didn't. It makes me feel so much better about saving the junk. :)

If I use this pillow, I will save fabric, stuffing, and a lot of time. Right?


While trying to stuff the huge pillow into the new pillow case, look what happened.

ARRRGGGGGGG...it must be a 3-inch rip. I should have left a bigger opening. Now what?

Well, I certainly was not picking out 8 seams of tiny stitches, so I had to find a way to mend it. I took a quick look at some of the fancy stitches on my new machine. I was in no mood to figure out how to use a new stitch, so I just picked one that I could touch a button to make it work.

It held the tear together very well.

Then I had to think of some way to hide the stitches. I decided to sew a green strip right over the top. It worked fine, but I couldn't have just one strip at the top of the pillow. So I added two more. The top border now looked out of place with the bottom.

So I had to add three to the bottom...then the sides looked out of place...........

After I had added twelve green strips, I was almost happy. It seemed like the strips needed a little something to give them purpose. I decided to mull it over while I slept.

After work I went back to the basement to rummage through my small collection of beady things that has been sitting in a clear fishing tackle box for years. I found some orange ones that worked perfectly. I wasn't that thrilled to hand sew 12 of them with invisible thread, but I must pay the price for my hasty decision to attempt to stuff a 24-inch pillow in to a 12-inch opening.

So I sat and sewed while watching New York's new Governor air his dirty laundry. What an ironic situation that was!

Needless to say, I did not save any time, but as I watched the new Governor fall (or just take a little tumble) from grace, I finally finished the darn pillow.

In the end, I like it. I think those twelve strips and beads really added textural interest. I took a pic of it with the little star pillow so you could get an idea of the size difference.I think that was my 6th (and final!) pillow for the deck.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Scrap Happy

It's amazing what can be done with a box of little scraps!

I have found that if I put away little scraps, I probably will never get them back out. Therefore, I try to use up as many little pieces as I can before I clean up the fabric from current projects.

See this little mound of scraps?

Look what came out of it in less than an hour.

It's a little star pillow to match all the other deck quilted items. It barely made a dent in that pile of scraps.

I had planned to make a little doily-like thing for the outdoor table, but the center pouffed out a tad too much, so I spent a few minutes considering what else I could do with it. Hmmmm...maybe a star pillow? I sewed a backing to the diamonds and then this cute little flower button right smack in the middle, which took care of the pouffing.

What is really amazing is that the diamond block I used for this pillow is the exact same one I used for the pink Christmas tree skirt.
Two such different items from the identical block!

I am planning to putter around the rest of this week making little 3-inch blocks from these scraps. In addition to the pillow, I made 22 other blocks, 18 of which I have put together into these two star blocks.

Isn't it amazing what can come out of a box of little fabric pieces that most people would toss?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm not Irish, But I Do Love a Corned Beef Dinner

and today I cooked one that was so good I had to pop in here to record my method so I will remember it next year.

I usually boil corned beef with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, etc. I was going to do that today, but on a whim, decided to see what would happen if I cooked it in the oven.

Oh, my, it was the best corned beef that has ever graced my table. Incredibly tender and tasty. I can't say for sure if it was my cooking method or if DH just picked out a very good piece of beef. It was probably a combination of both.

Here is what I did:

This is the brand I used. It was just under 5 lbs.

It comes with its own little spice bag which I sprinkled throughout the pan.

I cut up half a medium head of cabbage and put it in a big roasting pan.

I had a big pot of water almost to the boiling point on the stove, which I poured over the beef and cabbage until it was about 2 inches high.

Then I put it in a preheated 325 degree oven, covered it and let it cook for almost 5 hours. Other than turning it over at the halfway point, I didn't do a thing to it. When done, it looked like this:

I was surprised that it did not shrink more. Last year's boiled specimen ended up to be about half the size it started as.

I decided to roast the veggies rather than throw them in the water/fat filled pan. I think roasting adds much more flavor. I turned the heat to 425 degrees and add a big pan of veggies. While they cooked, I let the corned beef rest covered on top of the stove.

They roasted for 35 minutes.

Last week I finished the second Easter tablerunner and have now used up all the blocks that I originally made for that quilt border.

I decided I might as well use it on the table. Then I decided to change out the centerpiece (that's what happens when you decorate early -- you get bored and change things!)

I also added this little wooden bunny vignette on top of one china cabinet

and this one on the other.

It seems like forever since I posted (has it only been a week?) and, gosh, I have tons of things that I've done the past week. I guess this post is already too long, so the rest will have to wait.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

After almost 1500 posts and over 3 Years, It's

I am out of things to say so it's time to step away.

I'll be around reading and when I have the urge to post again I'll be back.

Feel free to explore the archives. They are all labeled on the right side.

à la prochaine,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Not Much Happening Lately

I've noticed a big drop in blog postings and about a 50% drop in my blog readers so there must be a universal lack of excitement in our lives.

Here's the biggest event of my day.

As I was dressing for work this morning, I decided I just hated the leather cord on this recently-purchased necklace. I've worn it a couple of times, but it does not feel comfortable.

It's not me.

There was no way to remove the pendant without cutting it off. So I grabbed my scissors and with one big snip the wooden pendant was freed.

I attached the pendant to a gold chain.

I like it much better now! I will take 14K over leather any day. Please ignore those dark shadows that make me look all lumpy at the neckline. They are caused from my arms holding the camera strap up as I am shooting into the mirror. I couldn't use the flash because of the mirror. LOL. What I won't do for a photo shoot at 6:00 a.m.

Here's a picture of the can of corn I had for dinner. (Did I mention how tough it's been lately to find blog topics?)

All kidding aside, this is the very best canned corn we have ever eaten. Del Monte Summer Crisp. It's sweet and crunchy...tastes almost like fresh from the garden corn.

So is it just me or is everyone feeling the blog blahs lately?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Something to Tantalize your Taste Buds

I had a decadent breakfast this morning. Just take a look.

It's called Northern Michigan Wildberry Toast.

It's French toast filled with a wild berry cream cheese.

I am all about presentation and I think this one is pretty good. Because the rim is so busy, this plate needed no garnish. It was a wise chef who curtailed the ubiquitous urge to toss parsley and an orange section on this plate. (Don't even let me get started on the overuse of parsley as a garnish--I will say just one thing -- parsley does not belong on a plate if it's not used in the dish, and please don't ever use parsley to garnish a dessert!) O.K. that was two things. Sorry...

I do have one little suggestion that would put this presentation over the top--gently set two blueberries and a blackberry into the filling that is oozing out of the toast. I guess it would be pretty expensive to get fresh wild berries at this time of the year in Michigan.

I could only eat two pieces. I like it without the butter or the syrup. I also left all the bacon. So, I guess I wasted more than 50% of it! Long ago I got over the need to finish everything that was served to me. I eat just as much as I want to and then stop. I hate to feel stuffed.

I have made a lot of progress on my table runner. It's made from 3-inch blocks and it will take about 64 blocks to complete. Here it is half finished.

Do you think it's a pretty good complement to the dishes?

I am quite satisfied with it and intend to do a table runner to match all the different dinner plates I have. I think I have upwards of 25 different patterns, so that should keep me busy for some time!

I think I will spend the next hour working on the hand quilting of the big 'Roses are Red, Borders are Blue' quilt. It's been over a week since I've worked on it. It will never get done if I continue at that pace!
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