Monday, January 31, 2011

New Techniques

This weekend, while Justin was sitting on a frozen lake in a little tent near his friends' little tents I decided to go to Northern Minnesota to visit my cousin Katie and our grandma.  Grandma Phyllis, although still healthy and mobile, is not crazy about driving in the winter and has been bored lately so we thought it would be nice to visit.  Also, she enjoys sharing our interest in sewing and quilting and I wanted her to show me how to quilt with my new sewing machine. 

When I was growing up we spent alot of time at my grandparents' house. We were there so much the summer my family was visiting/returning from the middle east that we had a season pass at the city pool there.  My aunt and my mom both stayed at home when we were little kids and during the summer we would spend days at a time there, eating summertime lunches of sandwiches and chips before heading to the pool for the afternoon where us girls (there were four of us...Myself and Andrea, and Katie and Brenna) would play "mermaid" games (Disney's The Little Mermaid was the movie of the moment).  My brother was the only boy and who know what he did all the time.  I don't know how he could stand it to be honest!  If we weren't swimming we were playing outside in the vacant lot (which is no longer vacant) next door or sitting at the table in the basement coloring and drawing pictures on the big stacks of computer paper and construction paper my grandparents provided from the school and bank where they worked while our moms sat up at the kitchen table paging through magazines.  It is the house they grew up in so being there often resulted in reminscing about funny stories from their childhood and lots of cackling.  Looking back, it seems very idyllic! 

Katie and I both mentioned our nostalgia at being at our Grandma's house.  At our age it is nice to still have that part of our childhood accessible because I know alot of people my age who have lost their grandparents and some did not even get to know them as children.  If they are alive, many have moved into assisted living or smaller, low maintenance apartments.  Although the decor has been updated with each decade almost everything is the same.  My grandpa's various coaching and teaching awards still hang on the wall in the basement, along with a bulletin board with baby pictures and funny newspaper clippings pinned on it that hasn't changed since the early 90's.  And I like it that way! 

The side of the basement where we used to draw and color is now my Grandma's quilting headquarters.  She has an abundance of fabric and a big fancy sewing machine and a big rotary cutting mat that covers the whole table. 

We put the proper quilting foot on my machine and Grandma showed me her signature swirling quilting design!  There was nothing to it!

This was my frist attempt.  It was OK.

I also learned the "right" way to bind quilts.  I usually just cut the back larger than the front and then fold it over and sew it.  The right way involves strips of fabric that are sewn on the back and then folded over and hand sewn on the front.  I am skeptical because I don't like had sewing but I think it looks alot better so I will give it a try. 

My first attempt.  The corner looks good!  By the way, those are just not be alarmed by the hideous floral/snowman combination!

I think I've got it!

Ooooh...look what I did!  ALLAN!  The possibilities are endless!

On Sunday afternoon I stopped at the farm to pick up Jake because Andrea and Kirk were back from Hawaii.  At Christmas he had to be coaxed into his kennel with a meat stick before he would leave.  This time, he wouldn't go at all!  Not even for a meat stick!  He wouldn't leave the step and when I tried to lead him by the collar he put on the brakes and locked his legs in place!  My dad had to come out and carry him!  We recorded it on my dad's phone and I think it's hilarious.  It might be a "had to be there" moment but if you know the family you might like it.  My favorite part is when my dad says "Dinner plate!" and tries to get Jake to chase after a food tray.  It is kind of sad, too, because my parents' dog is crying and wimpering as Jake finally gets up in the kennel.  If you watch, please ignore the ridiculous giggling from my mom and I!  At 2:30 is when Dad finally takes action!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mr. Puffy Neck

Mr. Puffy Neck is what we now call Allan.  As you can see in these photos he has been getting pretty fat and his fur is really thick and sometimes his neck area looks wider than his head.  It's really cute, I think! 

He's my fat little guy!

I finally got my car back this afternoon.  It looked so clean and pristine and good as new!  Well, it looked pristine on the outside.  On the inside it still looked like a mess, with my burned cds strewn all over the backseat and other crap littering the floor.  It is nice to have it back!  Goodbye, rental Nissan!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sewing Machine!

Justin gave me a new sewing maching for Christmas this year.  I took it out of the box for the first time this evening and started experimenting.  I had previously read through the instruction book and knew it would be considerably more complicated than my old machine! is really complicated!  It was necessary to read the directions carefully to learn all of the mechanisms before sewing a stitch!   

This little screen tells you what is going on.  I thought it was funny that it displayed the fact that I was winding hte bobbin thread.  Usually it displays the stitch selection options and, when you select the stitch, gives you the option to change the stitch length and width. 

Look at all those buttons!  The red light is actually a button that you push to start sewing!  It has a foot pedal but you don't have to use it.  It was strange at first but I think I will like it!  There are 67 "utility stitches" and countless other stitches for decorative sewing, embroidering letters, and making button holes.  It will take me alot of projects before I experience these features!  I am very excited that it has the capability to quilt.  Maybe I can finally step out of my "tie quilt" comfort zone and stop taking the easy way out! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Poor Plants!

I finally returned home to Bis after more than a month away and it was a huge relief.  I have been missing everything about the house.  I our bright colored towels and my beautiful rug in the living room and the water glasses and everything else.  Besides Allan, there are a few other living things in the house that we are responsible for and I found out that those other things have been completely neglected for the past five weeks.  The plants.  The poor plants!  

There are three of them and they had not been watered since the last time I was here!  Amazingly they don't look too bad!  The one pictured is in the worst shape but it might come back! It looks better in the photo than it did when I discovered it, hanging limp over the sides of its pot.  I have been giving it water and it had some Miracle Gro this afternoon. 

Allan seems to have forgotten me which makes me sad...he prefers Justin and doesn't approach me like he used to.  I'm sure once I am back for good we will eventually resume our old relationship. 

This morning I woke up several hours before Justin and Allan was waiting by the door for him to come out. 

I had a good weekend.  It was a good feeling to get all of the Christmas decorations put away.  In addition to the Christmas tree, nativity scene and other decor, the small selection of Thanksgiving decorations we have were still out.  What a mess it was.  Setting up Christmas decorations is SO much better than taking them down.  It is one of the more anticlimactic aspects of the year I think!  I am embarassed to say that my mom managed to disassemble her Christmas decorations before I did.  For the past few years the Christmas tree at the farm has stayed up long past what could be considered acceptable to most people...OK, all people...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quilts x 4!

I have mentioned briefly the secret quilting project I was working on in this fall in preparation for Christmas.  I am going to finally reveal what exactly I was doing! (I know, everyone has probably been waiting SO anxiously! Haha!).

I was making four quilts for Mary (Justin's mom).  The covert operation started this fall when she and Larry were cleaning and cosolidating around their house.  As many of you know, Justin's dad, Dennis, passed away in 1991.  Over the years, she held on to several of his shirts that held memories of him as a reminder.  Mary found them hanging in a basement closet while organizing and was contemplating what to do with them.  She got inspiration from my blog posts about the quilts I made from my old shirts over the summer and asked me if I could turn Dennis's shirts into quilts for Justin and his sister and their grandmother, and also one for her to keep.  I was instantly excited about the idea so I went to their house without Justin's knowledge one weekend and picked up the shirts.  There were about 20, all along the same lines.  They had the snaps and pointed pockets and yokes of western style shirts, and the patterns were plaids and stripes.  I knew right away that they would make attractive quilts! 

This is the first one I pieced together!  I was the smallest of the three, consisting of 7 x 7 inch squares arranged 8 across x 9 down.  The other three were larger, with 9 squares across and 11 down.  Although it seems like alot of work, the sewing aspect went quite fast.  It was the cutting that took the most time.  There was quite a bit of seam ironing and ALOT of string trimming!  I did most of the work at Andrea's (it was nice to be able to work without Justin's knowledge and without having to hide everything from him) and strings will probably be hanging around her basemet for the next year.
Here they are, all finished!  I tied them instead of quilted them.  They are very soft due to the well worn shirt fabric! 

The tan shirt was Dennis's Cub Scout leader uniform from when Justin was involved in scouting.  For his quilt I repositioned the patches in the middle of the squares.  They were originally on the shoulder near the seam.  There was the patch shown above and an America flag.  These patches and the quilt corners were the only parts that required hand sewing so that was a relief!  I am not a fan of hand sewing...

This photo shows some of the pockets!  I love the look of the snaps! 

When I finished the project I had three bags of scraps remaining and thought it would be nice to make something more.  I thought that Christmas ornaments would be a good idea and searched for some ideas on the internet.  After a few test runs and rejected ideas I came up with these little Christmas trees!  They were a combination of a few different examples I found that for various reasons didn't work.  They were a great way to showcase the pretty colors of the snaps!

Here they are before I sewed the back on.

The pinking sheared edge really added to the look and fixed any uneven edges.  I had planned to use my mom's pinking shears but as soon as I tried to cut with them I realized that they no longer cut fabric because my sister and I used to play with them and use them to cut paper and make scrapbooks.  Sorry mother!  She told me to buy her a new pair and a few days later I recieved my very own pair for christmas! 

This was a great way to share the project with more family members! 

It was alot of fun to make these quilts.  I am prone to getting burned out on projects sometimes and not finishing them in a timely manner (such as the t-shirt quilt I finally finished this fall after I had the quilt top stashed in a closet for two years!) but I didn't while I was working on these (being accountable to someone else might have helped!).  I could feel Dennis's approval.  Everyone loved their quilts! 

Monday, January 17, 2011


It is the time in January when I forget what it ever felt like to wear sandals outside and feel a warm wind and see green vegetation.  The weather has been really crappy and the driving conditions have been terrible.  However, that didn't stop me from venturing out of town for the first time since Christmas to head to Justin's Grandpa Les's 94th birthday celebration on Saturday.  He lives in a retirement home in a small town and it was a friendly place, much like the home in the town where i grew up! 

I don't know Grandpa Les very well the way I know Justin's Grandma.  Justin is the youngest of his cousins on his mom's side.  Several of his cousins have children who are the same age as my cousins!  We don't see them very often so it was fun to get together.  In an effort to know Grandpa Les better, I asked Justin what he was like when he was younger, before his retirement home days.  He recalled that he enjoyed working in the yard and that the two of them went fishing in the summer. 

Here is a family photo.  It's kind of dark...that might have happened because my camera battery was about to drain as the picture was being taken.  The residents at the home enjoyed seeing the kids playing in the common room. 

I spent the rest of the long weekend at my parents' house.  I learned that my rental Nissan is ill equipped for winter and especially winter at a farm. Driving on the snow was a problem.  That car doesn't have enough power.  I want my Fusion back! 

I was uploading my recent pictures and realized that I overlooked everything we did last weekend.  We celebrated little Cayson's 1st birthday at a hotel in MN.  I didn't mean to forget to mention was the day after the accident and in my self absorbtion over that mess I bypassed the birthday party. 

He loved his cake!  Well...he loved to play with his cake.  Once he was in his high chair he dug in with his hands and began kneading the cake like it was playdough or something!  I'm not sure if any made it to his mouth!  After he had his fill he went swimming with his cousins.  It was a pretty good first birthday! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Allan wants to thank you...

I got a special offer from Shutterfly (A thank you for ordering our Christmas cards from the site).  The offer was for 10 free cards of my choice!  I checked it out made these "thank you" notes featuring Allan!  He is such a gracious cat...
Modern Gracias Thank You 5x7 folded card
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View the entire collection of cards.
How cute are they?  And yes, I know they are kind of feminine to be featuring a male cat but the orange matches his stripes!  If you want one all you have to do is send me a present!  Or give me a job...that would be better! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy 1-11-11

What a unique date it is!  It is also my brother, Peder's, 24th birthday!  What a sweet day for a birthday!  My birthday is 4-4 so, God willing, I will be around to celebrate 4-4-44, which would be my 61st birthday.  Hard to imagine right now! 

Although I wouldn't normally mention Pete's birthday (I'm sure I didn't mention it on here last year) I don't know what else to write about (unless you want to hear more about my car accident...I got the estimate from the body shop today...$4,700.00.  Yikes.  Lucky for that body shop!). 

Pete was born when my family lived in Rock Springs, WY.  I was 3 years old at the time, turning 4 on the previously mentioned 4-4.  I have some memories of that time.  I recall that my family replaced our car with a van and that my sister and I got bunk beds.  I also recall an oxygen tank and monitoring machine.  That machine is in the picture because Pete was supposed to have been born in March.  He was premature and spent time in the intensive care unit in Salt Lake City, UT before coming home.  It is strange to imagine now, in these days of high worry where only a limited number of people are approved to see healthy babies and are required to prove that they are vaccinated against every threatening disease and germy little toddlers are banned completely, but my sister and I were allowed in the ICU to see him.  I still recall wishing I could hold him.

He overcame his early start fine, as you all know, and became a regular part of the family. 

This was taken on a camping trip when we lived in Wyoming.  We were probably at Yellowstone or the Black Hills.  My mom was so overprotective and fussy!  Haha.

I was looking through pictures to find one of Pete when he was older to show when I realized that no one in this family seems capable of taking a normal looking picture.  I don't think it's possible if our lives depended on it.  Good lord. 
The signature sneer.  This face shows up alot on Pete, and also on others.  This was taken at a street dance the night before the 4th of July a few years ago. 

Oh...there it is at Andrea's wedding!

And skiing in Montana at our favorite ski lodge bar!

And at again on the 4th of July!

And at our cousin Christina's wedding!

Now Andrea's doing it!

Pete and his female, 29 years older twin, who is also our mom.  Obvious similarities. 

OK, a few kind of normal shots...

In my wedding... 

Holding Jakey in a skeezy sweater at Andrea's ugly sweater party... 

 Cheers to marginal pictures and 1-11-11!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My 1st Accident

On Friday afternoon I faced one of my fears, although not by choice.  I was involved in my first car accident.  Everyone knows it is an icy, snow bank filled treacherous mess around here but until now I have avoided trouble.  On Friday afternoon I was driving South after work.  It happened fast.  I was thinking, "Oh there is Target up ahead.  Maybe I will stop because I need some face wash.  Hey!  That car just pulled out right in front of me!  I don't think I can stop!  I'm not going to be able to stop in time!  I'm sliding!!! I'm going to hit the car!"  I could feel the irrititating grinding sound of anti lock brakes as I pumped the petal, trying to break my skid.  I hit the side of the car with the front end of my passenger side then slid along the side of it and we both went careening across the north bound lane until the wall of snow created by the plow stopped us.

 The other driver was a nice young guy who immediately took responsibility for the accident.  He said he couldn't see around a huge snowbank when he was trying to make a left turn and thought he was clear to go.  It is a serious problem lately because of the excessive snow. I have mostly quit making left turns at high traffic intersections around here since the blizzard last weekend unless there is a stoplight. It is usually faster to just drive around the block instead of inching out and craning your neck to try to see if anyone is coming. 

The other driver called the police and we waited nervously on the street while the rush hour traffic passed by and stared at us.  Many people slowed down to make sure we were alright (which seemed obvious since we were standing there without injury but it was nice anyway).  The response seemed slower than it should have been, but we had assured the person on the phone that there were no injuries so I guess it wasn't an urgent matter (there were several other accidents and rollovers that afternoon and evening).

The first responders to arrive were three firefighters in a firetruck.  We both felt embarassed because that kind of assistance wasn't necessary...we just needed someone to tell us what we should do next.  They also seemed mildly annoyed to have rushed to a scene only to find two uninjured people standing there next to their fender bender.  A police officer showed up soon after and the fire department went on their way.  He called tow trucks for us, checked our records and gave us forms to fill out for insurance.  When the tow trucks came and extracted the cars we saw that mine was in worse shape!  Poor Fusion!   

 It looks like a T-Rex took a big chomp out of it. 

 I'm not sure how much damage was done because the accident happened on Friday afternoon/evening so I should hear more tomorrow.  Andrea came and we followed the tow truck to the body shop and looked at the car and took some pictures.  There happened to be two black Fusions back there so I just started taking pictures of the first one I saw.  The damage to that one didn't look as bad as I remembered so I was surprised  When we were turning around in the lot I saw my real Fusion, complete bite mark!  I'm glad no one saw me taking pictures of that other car.  Kind of creepy...

 The side is dented and scratched as well.  Insurance is such a wonderful thing when you need it! 

Everyone of course asked if I am OK and also if the other driver is...the answer is yes.  Our airbags didn't deploy and I don't remember the impact being especially hard (although it must have been.  I knew it was coming so I really braced myself.  The other driver was fine to, but he said he felt more of a hit because it happened on his drivers side. 

I hear people bitching all the time and saying things like "everyone is driving so slow...why does everyone forget how to drive in winter...just because there is snow doesn't mean you have to drive 5 mph..." it never ends...everyone loves to complain about how bad everyone else drives.  Well, I was going about 15 mph on a street where the speed limit is usually, I believe, 35 or 40 mph.  I was driving the same speed as everyone else was.  If I had been driving 40 mph I don't want to think about what might have happened to that other driver.  And if the traffic in the other lane that we slid across had been going that fast we could have been in pretty bad shape.  So, everyone who thinks other people are driving too slow should just be glad. 

For the time being, I have a rental car paid for by insurance (it could be awhile before my car is ready.  The body shop said they were very busy).  It is (GASP) a Nissan!  Ugh!  Haha.  Acutally, I have to admit that it is very nice.  The model I have is the Nissan equivalent of a Fusion so it feels pretty comfortable.  I have had Fords for so long, though, that all the controls are foreign to me.  I almost had to look in the manual to find out how to turn on the headlights!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


There hasn't been enough Allan related content on here lately.  I don't see him enough!  I hope the poor kitten remembers me! are a few pictures of him.  I realized it had been awhile and decided to show off a few. 

Throughout the fall months I was working on a top secret sewing project with Justin's mom.  It was for Christmas.  I will feature the results in a separate post eventually but I had a few Allan pictures I hadn't been able to reveal because they would have ruined the secret. 

The surprise involved quilts (yes, multiple quilts!) which I finished by tying as opposed to real quilting.  One weekend I worked on it at home and Allan was a big pest the whole time.  Here he is burrowing in the quilt with one of his favorite mouse toys.

This photo is probably one of my favorites I have taken of him because he looks very bratty!  The turn of his ears and the look in his eyes betray the bad behavior that was about to come.  Right after the photo was taken he started ripping the thread out of the box (it's my old friendship bracelet kit again!  It was shown on here a few months ago when I was tying a quilt!).  I love how he look so expressive! 

Justin sends me picture messages of Al regularly to cheer me up.  Most of them are taken when he is watching TV in the basement. 

Fluffy neck!

 He's getting kind of fat and I like it! 

I miss my little buddy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shopping Freeze

Before I start...isn't my new background cute?  I checked out the site "Cutest Blog on the Block", which has free backgrounds and there were so many to choose from!  I will probably be changing it alot now!

I have had a few people ask me if I made a new year's resolution this year.  Most people make resolutions about improving their health or losing weight.  I usually don't make a formal resolution but instead just try to streamline my life to match the serenity that comes with the month of January.  I usually clean out my closet and donate unworn clothes and rearrange my picture frames and other decor after putting the Christmas decorations away. 

This year I have enjoyed the after Christmas clearance sales and have purchased several new items for my already bloated wardrobe.  These included a sweatshirt, a scarf, a few sweaters, a tank top with little sequins on it, a plaid button up shirt and. . . I think that's all of it...I have actually lost track of it all.  I find clearance shopping, especially the seasonal mass clearances after Christmas and at the end of summer, to be an true recreational activity to share with (female) family members and friends.  It's always worth it to wait until after Christmas to buy an appealing sweater or coat!

This year I feel as though I have gone too far and so I am turning to my favorite "stop shopping" measure.  I tell everyone I am banning myself from shopping for a certain amount of time and then do it.  It doesn't matter if it is the best bargain I have ever seen.  I can't buy it!  I can't buy clothes, shoes, accessories or cosmetics.  Things I can buy include necessities (such as food, toothpaste, soap, cleaning supplies, etc.) and gifts for other people.  I guess I will also allow myself to buy items for projects such as sewing or scrapbooks because getting projects done is a good thing to do when starting the new year! 

I have successfully completed two shopping freezes in the past, each lasting one month.  During my second year of law school I did one (I had appendicitis during that time, however, and didn't leave my couch for a week so I felt like it was a bit too easy!) and the first one happened during the summer of 2004.  During that summer, I was working for school credits at unpaid internship types of jobs so I shouldn't have been shopping at all anyway! 

The Shopping Freeze of 2011 starts. . .NOW!  I am going to start taking routes that steer me away from TJ Maxx!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's S&%!storm 2010/11

In general, I don't think snowstorms are worth mentioning.  Like we all haven't seen the results before!  However, this New Year's Eve weekend was such a disaster I had to record it. There were two serious blizzards in two days.  When the bad weather started some freezing rain fell so there was (and still is) a lethal coat of ice all over everything.  My car is still a block of ice because of it.  My side mirrors are coated with ice that is so thick that I cant't penetrate it with a scraper without worrying about breaking the glass.  There is no where to bring my car that is warm.  So...I have been driving around with a limited rear view.  Also, there has been so much snow that the streets are getting narrow and what is usually three lanes is now two and you just have to drive wherever the person in front of you is driving.  No one knows where the lanes really are.  And the snow drifts are so high you can't see around corners to see if another car is there.  It's a huge mess and accidents are rampant. 

All of this snow and drifting happened on the 30th and 31st.  On New Year's Eve the interstates were closed so Justin couldn't make it here.  He tried and had to turn back.  The mall closed and many bars were closed!  That means it was serious!  It was the most dull and anticlimactic New Year's Eve I have had since I was a teenager.  Sigh...
Kirk had to remove snow from the first blizzard on Friday and the second one on Saturday.  I'm glad I didn't have to help.  I loathe snow removal.

The snow fills in their front walkway in a very extreme way.  Yikes.  He had to deal with this two days in a row. 

Snow inflitrated the dog door in the garage and left this lovely surprise.

 In the back yard the snow drifted as high as the fence, which is about 8 feet high.  Kirk had to dig a trench near the top so Jake wouldn't jump over the fence!  The sun looks pretty amazing in this photo!

This the drifting that accumulated on one side of the house. 

At least someone had fun!

Happy New Year everyone!  It was a memorable one!