Thursday, September 29, 2011

Edna and Albert

I noticed that there were two spiders living between the screen and window in our bathroom a few days ago.  I am sure their names are Edna and Albert, don’t you think so?  Every day the two of them are there just hanging out but usually one is near the top of the window and the other is near the bottom.  In this photo Edna is on the back side of the screen and a little larger than Albert who is on the blinds that are between the window and screen.  Albert seems to be a little out of focus though, sorry Albert.

Normally I would not let them stay but have not taken off the screen for a while and vacuumed the dirt, webs and sorry to say the spiders too.  One good thing is that they can’t escape into the house so for right now they can stay.  I need to clean the windows one of these days so maybe I shouldn’t have found out their names as it always hard to vacuum up the neighbors. 

This afternoon Edna (I presume it is Edna as I have read that female spiders are larger than the males) was just walking towards Albert presumably to have a chat about maybe changing their living arrangements but he must have not liked the look in her eyes as he took this defensive pose and didn't want to listen to a word she was saying.  You know most spiders have 4 pairs of eyes so he had a lot check out when he looked into her eyes.  He stayed like that giving her an evil look with his front legs extended and must have said a few stern words to her as she stopped her approach and thought the situation over a bit then high tailed it to the other side of the window as quick as can be.  I wonder what he said….I just don’t speak or understand spider language but know his tone indicated he was not happy.
I am thinking Albert is tougher than he looks but it might be that I am not sure there is anything between the window and screen for them to eat and maybe, just maybe Edna was thinking Albert looked a little tasty.  I have also read that female spiders often times eat the males after mating so if that is the case, Albert’s days just might be numbered.

Have a good day,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Pillowcases

IMG_4773 Finished making the three pillowcases I cut out this weekend.  The guild I belong to is making the pillowcases to be donated to our local hospital.  They will also be counted in the American Patchwork and Quilting 1,000,000 Pillowcase Challenge.  The hospital gives pillowcases to children that are hospitalized and this is a small hospital so this is a doable project for our guild.
IMG_4699I chose to not put an accent strip on my pillowcases so just had two pieces of fabric and cut the body 27” and the cuff at 9”.  Next time I think I will cut the cuff a couple of inches wider.  The cuff is OK the way I made it but maybe a little narrow.  Next time I think I will cut the body at 26” and cuff at 11”.  This cuff measurement might not seem right to cut it 11” and to cut the body at 26 but remember that the cuff is folded in half.  If I increase the width cut of the cuff 2” to get one more inch of finished cuff I need to reduce the body by 1”or the pillowcase might be too long.  You don’t have to come up with your own patterns as there are many patterns out there on the web for pillowcases but I think anything goes so long as it fits a pillow and would be comfortable to lay on.  Lots of patterns can be found on the American Patchwork and Quilting 1,000,000 Pillowcase Challenge web page so check it out.

I constructed my pillowcases using the sausage method – here is a You-Tube video that shows the process.  Love that the finished pillowcase has no raw edges as they are all enclosed.  Pull up the video or follow the photos to make this easy pillowcase.  This first seam is 1/4”.
The most amazing thing about making a pillowcase this way is pulling the body out of the cuff after this first seam is stitched.  I press the seam toward the cuff making sure I don’t have any pleats on either side then top stitch close to the edge of the cuff.  Since I am not using the accent strip the cuff tends to roll back and the top stitching will keep it flat after laundering. 
At this point I trim the selvage edges off the pillowcase, square up the raw edges on the end and pin it right sides out, yes that is correct RIGHT SIDES OUT.  The side and bottom seams are stitched as a French seam and to do a seam this method you need to first stitch 1/4” seam with the right sides to the outside.  Match the cuff edges and seams and be sure to back stitch at both ends.  Your seam will be an L shape as you will turn the corner at the bottom and stitch along that edge too.  Clip excess fabric from the corner to reduce the bulk then turn it inside out.  Using a point turner push out the corners.
Press the pillowcase flat making sure the seams are pushed out all the way.  Stitch a 3/8” seam encasing the previous seam, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.  You have more bulk where the cuff meets the body of the pillowcase and sometimes the machine foot doesn’t want to climb over it or takes a giant stitch after the bulk.  To help with this problem I use a plastic tool that came with my Bernina machine and put on section of it partially under the back edge of the foot to help support it when I am starting to stitch over the bulky seam and under the front edge as I am leaving the bulky area.  If you don’t have something similar that came with your machine you can find something else to do the same job, maybe a piece of cardboard or plastic – anything to raise the foot to the same height as the highest part to keep your stitching even and the stitching moving along.
Here are the three pillowcases folded and all ready to be taken to the October guild meeting.  They took so little time and fabric and will hopefully put a smile on a child’s face.IMG_4769
I want to share a story about buying the fabric for the pillowcases.  I was shopping for inexpensive fabric at the Joann’s store for these cases and lots of other sewers were shopping that same day. (Remember I told you they are having a liquidation sale at the store near me.)  Another woman with two small children was also going round and round the isles of fabric like I was and her cart had lots of bolts that she wanted yardage from.  We got to talking and I told her what I was looking for and what our guild was going to do with the pillowcases.  She told me “thank you” and that she had a handicapped child that had been on the receiving end of a pillowcase once and that it meant so much to the child and to the rest of the family to think a perfect stranger had done something like that.  I am sure it was not the hospital we give to but another facility somewhere but it is nice to know they really do make a difference in people’s lives. 

My challenge to you if you have not done any before is to make a couple of pillowcases and find a worthy cause to donate them to.  It will make you feel like in a small way you have helped to make someone’s life a little cheerier, their day a little brighter or pain a little less.   Make sure you register the number of pillowcases you donated to your cause on the American Patchwork and Quilting 1,000,000 web page to help them reach their goal.  You don’t send the cases to them although they do have a list of charities on the website if you don’t have one in mind already.  They just want the number I finish typing this there have been 306,265 pillowcases made for charity.

One last note – I want to have 4 more cut out and waiting for my 4 grandchildren to stitch.  They are ages 5 to 11 years old so the older ones can probably sew them without much help and I can help the younger one but he loves to sew and always wants to use the machine when he is here.  None of them live close so I will have to wait for them to visit then we will get them made.   I want them to feel good about making something for a sick child and giving it away with no strings attached.  This will be fun for them and fun for me to help them.

 This post is from the blog, Nebraska Views. If you are not currently reading this via e-mail or an RSS feed, then this post has been stolen or scraped from the Nebraska Views blog.  Stolen content can be reported HERE .”
Until Later,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Easy Quick Meal

I just hate to stop what I am doing and make a meal if I am in the middle of a sewing or quilting project.   I have several quick easy meals that I can whip up in about 10 minutes and they taste good too!  Here is what I made today – Tortellini with chicken and Alfredo sauce and green beans with bacon.IMG_4650
I buy the fresh tri-colored cheese filled tortellini at Sams or Wallmart and keep a package or two in my freezer most of the time ready to use at a moments notice and today was such a day.  Here are the all the ingredients in the main dish, all kept in the cupboard or freezer to be ready when needed.IMG_4634The first thing I do is put on a large pot of water to cook the tortellini then I started the sauce.  Chop the onion (I only use about 1/3 of one onion for one can of chicken), cook in about 2-3 teaspoons of oil until onions are soft, add a can of drained chopped chicken, chop it up a bit more with the spoon then add the jar of Alfredo sauce.  My favorite brand is Bertolli.  Yum….it smells so good while it is simmering until the rest is ready.  The pasta only needs a few minutes to cook and then it will be drained and ready to serve.
IMG_4636 IMG_4638 IMG_4639
IMG_4641 IMG_4646 IMG_4649
I also served green beans cooked with chopped bacon.  I also keep a package of pre-cooked bacon in the freezer so took a couple of slices out and chopped them up and added them to the green beans.  I did start the beans when I started the water for the tortellini pasta so they could cook a few minutes to get the flavor of the bacon infused into the beans.IMG_4644
Normally I would have something for a salad but didn’t have anything on hand but John and I enjoyed the meal the way it was.  It was very flavorful and hearty and for me was quick and easy.

Do any of you have recipes that your go to when you need a quick and easy meal?  Please share as I would love to have a few more I can rely on.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

End Of Summer

My purple coneflowers are so pretty I hate to think that one of these days we will get a frost to kill them and all the rest of the summer flowers so I am enjoying them while I can.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

What You First See Is Not What You Might See Later

Ever look at something and not see what was plain as the nose on your face and not see it until it is pointed out to you and then every time after that you wonder why you didn’t see it the first time you looked at it?
My last post was about all the fleece throws I made for my family for Christmas.  What I didn’t tell you was the boo-boo I made buying fleece for my two sons in law.  I found this great black and white print that I thought would work for them and since I was having trouble finding “man” looking fabric with a print I thought this would do as it wasn’t flowery and in black and white was pretty graphic.

The bolts of fleece are pretty wide so I didn’t unroll it to have a better look – just took it up to the cutting table and had the gal cut 4 yards, 2 pieces in two yard lengths.  One fleece throw for each of the two guys.  As the clerk was folding it up after cutting it she said, “Oh those skulls are sure different.”

“Skulls?” I said.  That was when I really looked at the fabric and wouldn’t you know there were skulls on it.   How could I have not seen them before?  Don’t you think the fabric is almost disguising the skulls?IMG_4632
Since I had already had it cut off I had to take it, didn’t even ask since it was a big liquidation sale and I had asked the clerk to cut off the pieces.  I thought at the time it would be fine but after I got it home and the more I thought about it I decided I just couldn’t make blanket throws for my sons in law with this fabric.  I didn’t know what they would think of a skull blanket/throw made and given to them by their mother in law.  I purchased red and blue fleece the next time I was there and now that will be for the guys gifts, probably a much better choice.

Well I now have 4 yards of this stuff and not sure what I am going to do with it.   Maybe I should give it to someone for a Halloween gift.  Any other ideas?


Friday, September 23, 2011

Easy No Sew Fleece Blanket Edging

What a week I have had – some good and some not so good.  How about I start with the good.
I think I mentioned the Joann’s fabric store in Grand Island, NE. is having a liquidation sale as they are opening a new store in another location in town and I guess they are not moving any of the merchandise from the old store to the new one so they have had very good sales going on.  I purchased the anti-pill fleece in 2 yard segments to make single layer throws for my daughters, sons in law and grand children – 8 in all.  I didn’t want the throws to get too heavy so that is why I only used one layer for each.

I found directions on the internet for making the throws without the knots you usually see.  This edging looks more like a woven or crocheted edge.  I pretty much followed the directions on Pieces By Polly blog with a few changes of my own to make the 8 throws.
Here are the step by step photos and directions I used to make them.  I purchased Anit-Pill Fleece in 2 yard cuts…wanted the throws to be able to be washed and dried without getting pills which make fleece ugly and not so cozy.

Step 1  I trimmed the selvages off and straightened the ends.  This part is not difficult as they don’t have to be perfect rectangles.  The fabric always is wiggly so who is going to know if it is a llittle off square one way or another.
 Step 2 - Cut 1” slits around the entire edge and a 2” square out of each corner.  The 1” cuts are 2” deep.  I stuck a piece of painters tape 2” in from the edges of the fleece, laid the straight edge of the fleece on one of the lines of my cutting mat then used the rotary cutter to eyeball cutting every inch.  If it did not come out even in 1” increments I eyeballed to the end of where I IMG_4537was cutting and either added a little to each 1” fringe or subtracted a little so I wouldn’t have a really skinny or really fat strip at the corners.  I did cut through 2 layers at a time and it was no problem to keep my cuts even.  The tape really helped and cutting into it a little at times didn’t dull the rotary cutter like hitting the edge of a ruler would.  I cut the corners out with a scissors to avoid overcutting into the side strips.

After this step is done the rest could be finished sitting in my favorite chair and watching TV,  listening to music or an audio book.  These fleece throws are so easy even kids can do the edge treatment but would do the fringe cutting for them to keep them safe from those sharp rotary blades.  How about making a Christmas gift for grandparents or in my case I have gifts for my family for Christmas….OK, now on to the finishing of the edge treatment.
Step 3  Cut a small slit about 1/2” to 3/4” from the end of each strip with a scissors.  These small clips into the fleece are only about 3/8” long.  As you can see in the photo I just folded over the end and snipped to get the slit I needed.

I had a large crochet hook to use for the next step.  It is a size N but the size isn’t important, just need something that it will go through the slits I cut and be able to grab the next strip and pull it through.  The original web page had them using a looped paper clip  or wire for this step.  Check out the photos on that page.

Step 4  Starting in the center of one long side the crochet hook is slipped through the slit of one strip and into the one next in line. ( I am a left handed person so I am working from left to right – if you are a right handed person you will be going from right to left.  If you can’t figure it out check out the photos from the blog I learned this from here.  I was going to photograph it for right handed people but decided no, I am always having to transpose everything for myself from right handed directions so this time right handers would have to transpose and  I would just show how I did it.  If it were a complicated procedure I would have made it easy but since it is really pretty simple and self explanatory through the photos it stays left handed.)

The second strip is pulled through the slit of the first one and now the second one is on the crochet hook.  Next put the crochet hook through the slit in the next strip and pull it through….keep doing this all around the throw until you only have one strip left.
IMG_4548Step 5 The corners are treated no differently than the sides.  As the strips are pulled through and around the corners you will get a rounding of the corner and can keep going along the next side.  No fancy stuff just the same thing you have been doing on the sides. 
Step 6  The last strip is cut in half to make two smaller strips.  Cut a slit in the first strip close to the body of the throw and pull one of the half strips through that slit from the back then hook the other small strip and pull it through the last one you hooked as you worked around the throw.
  IMG_4549 IMG_4550
Tie the two smaller strips together in a double knot and try to hide it under the back if you can.  I had trouble with this part and decided if the knot showed a little that was OK.  The ending is the only place where you have a small knot.  If you have ever used those other kind of throws made with two layers and knotted fringe you know how uncomfortable it is to lay on those huge knots.  With this edge the only knot is small and hopefully pretty invisible and not lumpy to lay on. 
IMG_4551 IMG_4554
Notice how nice the edges look plus it looks so fancy but now you know how easy it is to achieve.  IMG_4630I have all 8 throws finished now and ready to wrap for Christmas.  This is the earliest I have ever gotten a gift made for Christmas so I am thrilled.  They were so simple to make and the edges finished off so quickly.  Isn’t this a pretty stack of finished throws?  If you have any questions or don’t understand just leave a comment and I will try to answer.

The bad part of my week went like this …read on if you are interested.  John and I were going to take a few days vacation to see parts of western Nebraska this week.  We left home on Tuesday – my birthday - and headed west.  I had woken that morning with a stiff neck but it wasn’t too bad so just took some Advil and went on our merry way.  Had a great dinner at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton and found a motel at Ogallala – feeling good but still a little stiff neck. 

To hopefully make a long story shorter I woke during the night with Charlie Horse like muscle seizures  in the muscles on the right side of my neck.  If I moved or flinched or maybe did nothing it would cramp up and be very painful.  This kept up the rest of the night off and on into the morning.  We decided I sure would not be able to enjoy any part of the trip so headed home.  I can tell you that every bump the car drove over for the 3 1/2 hours home caused the muscles to seize and finally seeing our home approach was a welcome sight. 

Luckily I could get into my chiropractor right away and he used an electronic gizmo that I will call electric acupuncture to put a little electric current into the muscle to make it relax.  Here is a description of it in Wikipedia here.  There are no needles and I didn’t even feel the current but it made those cramping muscles relax then he could do a little adjustment to help.  I am using ice on the neck now to reduce the swelling and plan to see him in a few days to get the rest of the kinks worked out.  My neck is still pretty sore but no more spasms.  Yippee!

With harvest starting next week we will have to put off our trip until after we are done or another time.  We don’t want to do it in the winter as it is just to cold to enjoy the places we wanted to stop and explore.  We had planned to see  Lake McConaughey, Chimney Rock, Scottsbluff National Monument, Agate Falls National Park, Wineries in Western Nebraska plus what ever the notion hit us that would be interesting.  It was a big disappointment not to be able to go on but would have been torture for me.  This was to be a relaxing, go where and when we wanted kind of trip for a few days.

I am much better now and look forward to getting all straightened out by the first of the week. The soreness is already going away so that is another positive thing.   I will be driving the tractor and grain cart soon so need to be in tip top shape for that.

This post is from the blog, Nebraska Views. If you are not currently reading this via e-mail or an RSS feed, then this post has been stolen or scraped from the Nebraska Views blog.  Stolen content can be reported HERE .” 

Until Later,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feed and Flour Sacks Galore

My local quilt guild had Gloria Hall from Palmyra, NE do the program at our meeting last week.  She is an avid feed sack collector and shared the history of the bags and showed many, many examples of the printed bags.  Did I say many, many, many?  She had some aprons, clothing and a few quilts to show too.  I really enjoyed the program but it just got way too long.  Her program lasted 2 hours.  Yes you read that right, 2 whole hours. 

She is a sweet woman with a great wealth of knowledge but we did have to have a business meeting after her program and that didn’t get started until 9:30 pm. so the program was almost an hour too long.   We got everything finished as quickly as we could so everyone could get home but it was much later than normal.  Some members, including me have about a 40 minute drive to and from the meetings.IMG_4409
I learned many things about the manufacture, dating and use of the printed flour and feed bags but also learned how she can tell if something has been stitched on a treadle sewing machine vs. an electric machine.  Gloria told us to look at 15” or so of stitching and pay close attention to the stitch length.  An electric machine will produce the same size stitches all along the seam where as the treadle machine will produce a string of same sized stitches then 3 to 5 tiny stitches then another string of same sized stitches, etc.  The reason for this is when the sewer stops to reposition her hands and fabric the machine makes a few small stitches then back to the larger, even ones after she started going again.  Isn’t that the most amazing thing to know?

Well – fall is moving in, the evenings have been cooling down and we have even had some cool days.  Before you know it we will be starting to harvest the corn and soybeans.  I am sure I will be out helping this year so after we start my posts may not be quite as regular.

Until Later,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You Are HOW Old?

Today is my birthday and sorry to say I am not going to tell you how old I am but just suffice it to say I am not collecting Social Security yet.  This photo was taken of me when I was 6 1/2 months old.  My mother says I learned to walk around that time and look at the soles of my shoes in this photo.  I think they were getting a lot of wear and untied too.  My mother also said I was a climber and at 9 months old I was sitting on top of the old upright piano once when she went looking for me.  I had climbed up myself so after that my parents had to keep any stools or chairs away so I wouldn’t get on top of the furniture.

Have a nice day planned and have had lots of email greetings so far today.  Fun to hear from friends and family no matter what day it is.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Trail Ride in the Mist

IMG_4459The local saddle club hosted a trail ride this last Saturday starting out on a foggy, misty day.  My husband and I belong to the saddle club that sponsors this annual event – before you ask, no I do not ride horses at all but go to the monthly meetings and happen to be the club secretary this year.  The club members all pitch in to help with this annual event how ever they can, even us non riders.
The trail ride takes more work than you might think, a lot of it before the ride and some of it even months ahead.  Here are a few of things that have to be done before the riders even show up….rope off the main street so people won’t ride their horses into peoples yards, and yes they have done this in the past, haul picnic tables borrowed from the small town out to the pasture where the lunch will be held.  A porta-potty has to be rented and hauled down to the lunch spot in the pasture.  The metal panels need to be loaded up, hauled down and set up for the horses to be tied up at noon.  A horse drinking tank plus the big water tank trailer needs to be taken down to the pasture and another horse drinking tank needs to be set up at the starting point of the ride and filled with water.IMG_4477Permission needs to be gotten from all the land owners for the ride to take place across their property – mostly pastures along the river.  Cooks or persons to cook the food – plates, cups, plastic utensils, etc. to be purchased.  Advertising to be taken care of, some months in advance.  We give out a lot of door prizes so they need to be collect from area merchants.  I am sure there are more things but it does take some organization to pull off.

As you can see a lot of pre-trail ride stuff takes place.  The day of the ride I help with morning registration and serving the noon lunch.  All riders are required to sign a waver and pay their fee before the ride starts.  Basically the wavers say – if I get hurt I will not sue the saddle club.  We hate to have the signed wavers but in this world of everyone suing everyone else we are trying to protect the club and members from that.  After all, riding horses can be dangerous and as riders, they know that sometimes things happen.IMG_4451 The man in this photo went off his horse when they were coming up out of a draw or ditch before noon.  The horse reared up a little and K fell off and hit his shoulder and back.  At noon he was hurting and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t have broken or cracked ribs but haven’t heard yet.  This couple are members of the club and are experienced riders so things happen even to the experienced riders occasionally.IMG_4517We serve our noon lunch in a pasture about half way through the ride.  The pasture grass where we will be eating is mowed before the ride and everything set up.  The club has been doing this for quite a few years so everyone knows what to do, where things go so it all runs pretty smoothly.IMG_4514There is a huge burr oak tree in the pasture and the tables and serving line were set up under it.  Most years we need the tree for shade but this time it did protect everyone a little from the mist that was coming down off and on all day.  IMG_4502Here is a photo of the horses being tied up at noon.  They set up 3 panels in a triangle shape and several sets of these for the riders to tie up over the noon break.IMG_4505The members decided the night before the ride that since it was supposed to be a cool day for the ride they had a bonfire going at the noon break to warm up the riders.  The temperatures hovered around 50 and with the mist it was chilly.

There were older adults on the ride and little kids so was a nice mix.  I think the finally tally was 78 riders.  Some quit at noon but most finished the entire ride.
IMG_4527This last photo is of my husband John on his horse Jessie.  Jessie sure wanted to get going after lunch as she hates to be last but sorry to say she was one of the last ones to leave.  Members lead the ride and bring up the rear and John was one of ones at the rear.  The rear guys have to make sure no one gets left behind and to shut all the gates of the pastures as cows are still in them until after harvest.  It would not be good if cattle got out due to our trail ride.

The ride started at 9 am and finished about 4:30 pm so I am sure there were some tired riders and horses.  We get a lot of the same riders each year so it must be fun for them or they wouldn’t be back.



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