Sunday, March 29, 2009

When the Voices In Your Head

get too loud, do something with your hands. Paint some papers. Build a sand castle. Bake a cake. Get busy and make something beautiful.

I was reading iHanna this morning and she linked to DaisyYellow and I went there and was impressed with the number of ways I could manipulate paper and paint. So I asked G if we could drive into Portland and shop at the Art Supply. I purchased the list mentioned in the brayer card stock post.

Eight tubes of water soluble Speedball Block Printing Ink and 2 two inch rubber brayers. It cost seventy dollars but I think I will have more than seventy dollars worth of fun with the supplies. I plan to stop at my favorite print shop tomorrow and ask for any card stock trimmings they might have in their wastebaskets.

I just couldn't purchase the Golden Fluid Acrylics. $17 for a small bottle. Not. Going. To. Happen. Especially when I would need 8 bottles or more. Doesn't matter how exceptionally wonderful the color and texture of the paint is and how wonderful it would be to experiment with high quality paint. This is the same reason I have never used oils. Too much money to spend for what is really only an experiment. How do I know I will like it? Perhaps everyone using them has gotten a sample package from the supplier. That's really the only way to get an artist to "want" your product. If it's that expensive.

The greenhouse Open House on Saturday was well attended and my vegetable gardening class was full. We had to add seats and not everyone got a information package. The donuts on the refreshment table were delicious and I ate 2.5 raspberry jelly filled donuts. It was cloudy with misting rain all day and today it's colder with harder rain falling. We sold quite a number of pansy flats and I answered all kinds of questions.

I worked on my Twelve by Twelve "window" challenge piece this morning while G walked the dog. It's a reworked piece I began a while ago using an envelope of blue scraps I got from one of the Frayed Edges. It looked like a window and it looked like the window I had wanted to make. So it is. I think I will add some hand work to the piece because that always makes it better. And bind the edges. Not all of my challenge pieces are completely finished. But it doesn't matter. They have no where to go. I will try Simply Robin's new binding tutorial and see if it's easier to use than the way I have been doing bindings. My corners are always bumpy and lumpy. Ick.

So I'm going down to make something beautiful. You go do the same.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Painted Papers

I found time (made time) to paint paper on Wednesday. Even though it was a very bad idea for my back which was unhappy from a long day of standing behind the cash register at work. We are being "trained" for the Open House that begins today.

I had a limited range of colors (four plus cream) and only the one book of old pages. the older cheaper books take the paint better. Shiny, smooth pages just make smeary messes.

I will tear these pieces into bits and then apply them to a surface of magazine images or other pages of text from maps, dictionaries and atlas. My favorite is foreign language newspapers and fashion or decor magazines from Europe. The disconnect of not being able to "read" the words, makes them more a texture and less of a distraction. And I'm all about texture.

Work today. Work tomorrow. Falling asleep while watching television. I slow cooked a bunch of pork over night with an onion and some garlic and this morning (ick) shredded the meat and added brown sugar and BBQ sauce and put the slow cooker back on low for the day. Pulled Pork for dinner. Nothing as disgusting as smelly meat before breakfast.

Got to get dressed and drive the dog to day care. We will be having cookies, doughnuts and potato chips for the Open House today and tomorrow along with truly awful coffee. Tomorrow I teach Vegetable Gardening in the morning and work the cash register for the remainder of the day. Woo Hoo!

I will take the camera today and try and get you a few images of the glorious flowers. I can't send the awesome SMELL of wet, organic dirt to you. Sorry!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last Trash Out Of The Day

I was reading about a company in California that cleans out foreclosed homes on the New York Times website. Anything over 35 cubic yards is considered a "big job". We dumped 40 cubic yards at my dad's house. And we need to get another smaller dumpster when we return to finish the job.

Yesterday, no plant watering at work. I learned how to serve the customers at the cash register. I did better than some of the high school girls who will be cashing people out later in the summer. That is something. I had to call for help a few times. And I had to, purposely, remember where I was was working before answering the phone. Not the library.

Today I will be organizing my thoughts for my Vegetable Gardening talk on Saturday morning. Tomorrow or Friday I will copy my "handout" for the people who come to listen to me talk. I give them Chapter 13 in the Master Gardener Class Book. More than they wanted to know but everything they need to know. I will focus on "location" and "containers" this year as sometimes (often) the only south facing part of the property is the driveway or patio. Or it's the front lawn. And not many homeowners are willing to dig up the lawn so they can plant beans. I used to grow cherry tomatoes in front of the porch steps in my front yard. Nice little sunny spot. Two big wooden containers. Easy and delicious.

I received several excellent hints for getting through my list of detestable tasks. "Eat the Frog" was my favorite. Do the worst thing on the list first. I spent a very amusing bit of time on that. Trying to figure out which item was the worst. LOL.

Monday I went out to the grocery store and bought supplies to make meatloaf for dinner. It was excellent (I used Lipton's dry onion soup recipe) and made all the remaining potatoes into a large pot of mashed potatoes. We had the leftovers yesterday. I sliced the leftover meatloaf into thick slices and panfried them in a bit of oil and butter.

Today I am making soup. I know. I'm not supposed to make soup on Wednesday. But G is working late today and soup is a good thing to eat at 7:30. Chicken Noodle for him and Bean and Escarole for me.

My lunchtime salads continue to be remarked on by my co workers. They are amazed by how good the salad looks and by the number of interesting and colorful ingredients. I have said many times that "I am worth the effort it takes to make a nice lunch". And really, it's not all that much effort. While preparing dinner, I prep a few vegetables for my salads (not all of them the same evening) and pack them into containers. In the evening, or in the morning, I just open containers and spoon a bit of this, some of that, into my larger salad container. And I mix Ranch, mayo, corn syrup and honey into a small container as the salad dressing. It tastes GOOD. Carrot sticks, black olives (sliced), diced red bell pepper (on sale this week), romaine, wheat berries, Chinese lo mein noodles (crispy instead of croutons). I have Greek olives, Feta, and homemade croutons if I want to switch it up. K had sprouts, green onion, shredded cheddar and grape tomatoes in containers for our salads in Atlanta.

If I don't care enough about myself to take "good care" who will? We (G & I) spend a bit extra on really good coffee beans, fresh salads, linen sheets, down comforters, 100% cotton or linen clothing (which I iron on good days), Smartwool socks and TiVo.

I have my "cheap and thrifty" side also. I wash and reuse aluminum foil, steam bags and plastic storage bags. I rarely raise the temperature in the house above 64 degrees (most zones are at 60). I compost everything (a pail sits on my kitchen counter), recycle every scrap of paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum can. Grow vegetables and eat them. Wash clothes in cold water. I have been asked to try and NOT use my clothes dryer. I don't think that will work for me, though my daughter had G install screw eyes in the beams in her basement ceiling. Marked out in precise rows. She hangs her wet clothing on plastic hangers and then onto one of the hooks and everything is dry by the next day. And nothing fades or shrinks. Or needs ironing. The laundry resembles soldiers in formation. OCD.

But I have stopped wearing baggy sweatpants and blue work shirts as my "daily uniform". All the sweatpants are gone and it's time to send the dozen blue shirts off to Goodwill. Now I wear corduroy pants and a sweater. And can "go out" in public looking less like a postal or prison employee and more like .... well, whatever I look like. Someone's Nana? The dog's walker?

I wish I looked more like an artist. Crazy colored spiked hair, outrageous clothes. Oh. That would be more along the lines of "Rock Star". Could that be what I really want to be when I grow up? A Rock Star? The "Rock Star" of Fabric Collage. O La La!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Confused Thoughts

I think that best expresses what is going on here. With me. For a few weeks, perhaps even more than a month or two, I was focused, directed and pleased with the "domestic" results. The house was clean-ish, the laundry done, floors swept, dog walked, dinners cooked, bills paid, piles cleared. I even vacationed.

Now I am home again and the debris of life is weighing heavy on me and I have lost focus. There are bills waiting to be paid, floors waiting to be swept and, lately, no dinner defrosted and ready to be cooked. Yesterday I served myself a very strange, if not delicious, meal of leftover boiled dinner vegetables and broth. Yes, a bowl of rutabaga, potato, carrot and cabbage in broth. G had the remains of Chinese food with steamed rice and some steamed broccoli. Today? I have "nothing" as they say. Plenty of frozen stuff and pantry ingredients. But no ideas.

Yesterday my daughter came by and walked the dog with me. Springlike weather. No scarf wrapped around our necks. No gloves. And later in the day. SNOW. The ground is wet and squishy (a good sign of thawing), daffs are peaking up out of the mud over the septic tank, the streets are clean, snowbanks decreasing in height. Warming. Sun shining. But it's 19 fricking degrees.

I do have Art Rule # 9 for you. Feel joy in self generated sweat. And Art Rule # 10. Fall in love with the working process. I think both of these rules are easy to follow IF you have a dedicated space in which to work.

My dad had a huge workspace in his basement. Filled with every sort of tool and material. If he wanted to go down and work. It was all there. Ready and waiting. He just had to push a few things aside and begin.

In order to work, I have to clear a space. In order to clear a space I have to find a place for the stuff begin moved. And this is where the creative urges end. Because the urge to create is sublimated by the need to "clean", "organize", "pack". I become increasingly frustrated and just quit. I have wanted to paint pages from an old book for two weeks now. I have no where to work. No where to let the pages dry. I have my little squares ready to applique but...... I don't actually have a reason why I'm not sewing. Perhaps I enjoyed sewing in the company of my friend K?

Other things I need to do: (Cross off my list)
Taxes. I have my Turbo Tax program installed and I need to just start doing my taxes.
Annuity. I need to decide. Fill out the papers and send them to settle.
Bills. Pay them and balance the checkbook
Ohio Banks. Settle this.
List the Ohio house for sale. Now I am having to sign contracts (as the new owner) for gas, water and electric services and pay all those bills in addition to my own bills and it is becoming increasingly depressing.
Find someone to cut the grass in Ohio.
Go to Ohio and empty the remainder of junk from the house and drag what we want back here and trailer the car back here. I can't begin to tell you how much I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS. Driving a U Haul truck with a car trailer all the way from Ohio to Maine is a living nightmare for me. I have imagined ALL the things that might go wrong, accidents etc.

Is ART anywhere on this list? Is going back to work anywhere on this list? Is reading a book for fun anywhere on this list?

I am thankful for the 12 days at K's. I relaxed. I had no bills coming in the mail each day. I had no responsibilities. I just enjoyed each day, sewed my squares each evening and had ice cream. Life was good.

And don't tell me to choose ONE item on the list and just accomplish that. Because I DETEST every item on that list and would rather NOT EVER do them at all. Which is why they have NOT been done in all these months. Oh, the bills get paid. I write checks all the time. But I have ignored all the other items for as long as possible. My dad should have made Sam the executor not me. She gets things done. I just make a mess of everything.

So on that self pitiful note: I will get dressed, walk the dog, defrost something, pay the bills, sign the water and sewer contract for the Ohio house, and paint some pages in the old book. On the kitchen counter top. I may even paint the little baked Skulpty legs I made months ago for the little dolls I got on mark down (because they had missing body parts).

Don't cry for me. I just need to whine in public every once in awhile.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Belated Holiday Cuteness

Riley is celebrating St Paddy with the big green spider. Well, he celebrates everyday with the big green spider. And the bunny. And Hippy the Hippo. And the squirrel. And the squeaky Fire Hose. That dog loves his toys.

Well, I made it through two days at work (thank goodness there was a day in between) and I am feeling my age. Today, after my shower, I climbed into my jammies and called it a day. Not that I did alot. I just am not used to doing anything for hours at a time.

And lunch was my favorite time. I made salads. Lettuce, green peppers, carrots, Chinese crispy noodles, wheat berries, olives and I made my own dressing. A squirt of Ranch, some mayo and a squirt of honey. Sort of like the dressing Applebees puts on their Oriental Chicken Salad. I have forgotten the almonds each day so far. Tomorrow I'm going to use corn syrup instead of honey and see what I think.

I get to drop off and pick up the dog. It's been easy and Riley is being very decent about it all. But I am driving the Jeep. Can't pick up the dog in the truck. I don't think the dog actually enjoys riding in any vehicle. He stares down at his paws the entire time. No looking out the windows. No joy riding. Stoic. And in the truck, in the front seat, he is absolutely desperate to have the ride end. Pressing his head into the seat, misery etched in his handsome face. Even worse is riding in the BMW roadster. Yikes! He seemed to like Sam's Fit but still won't look out the windows until the car comes to a complete stop and the engine is off. No drooling or lip licking so I don't think he gets sick. And it took MONTHS to get him to jump up into the Jeep. We had to lift him. Too old for that, I can tell you.

So here I am in my jammies, tired, ready for some dinner (oh, am I supposed to cook?), no Survivor to watch, plenty of TiVo, and a late start tomorrow (11 am) so I can sleep late or stay up late tonight (ha ha). That's all I got. Not an interesting thought in my whole head right now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Miles of Walking

Today I switched from the heavy leather, waterproof, boots I have worn everyday to walk the dog, to sneakers. It may be premature of me. The weather people are saying we'll have snow later in the week. I think we have had enough snow, thank you very much. But the sneakers are lighter and springier (because they are new). I have gone through three pairs of sneakers since I began this new healthy lifestyle. Still a work in progress.

The people from the Maine Unemployment Service are a bit disgruntled because I have not been "looking for work" and filling out my work search diary. Because, I keep telling them, I HAVE a job. There just is no WORK in the winter. And, just like I keep telling them, I will return to work in March when there is WORK. Tomorrow. Because I HAVE a job!!!!

Do you think government work is meant to be so mean spirited? How on earth do the welfare cheats manage to suck off the government teat for 20 years, with little effort, and a tax paying, hard worker gets abuse for collecting unemployment for 10 weeks and then returning to work? I can imagine the abuse the newly jobless are taking, filling out endless job applications, bothering people trying to work in businesses (who aren't hiring anyone), just to fill in the blank lines in the "job search diary" and get a check that may pay for food and utilities but not rent or mortgage. The check could buy a tent. Once the weather is warmer the jobless could move to a tent city and pretend they are camping. But they will still have to fill out the useless "job search diary". Most people who lost their job desperately WANT another job. The rest will just fill in the diary with lies.

And then there is more government business in the PILE of envelopes from Medicare that came in today's mail. My dad's usage in 2008. From January 1st to the day he died. I had shredded them by mistake while cleaning out his file cabinet. So I had to get duplicates. Because, now that I have written a few checks to doctors and medical offices, there is "blood in the water" and the welfare cheats (sharks) are moving in for their share of the money. So I, yes, it's up to me!, must prove they do not qualify, have already been paid, or are lying. Delightful. Medicare was kind enough to copy and send me all these duplicates. And they wished me well in my fight.

My dad's taxes are complete. He's getting a $14 refund.

My taxes aren't done. Not even started. Perhaps it's time to seek medical advice and some little tablets that will make me "feel better".

I made a wonderful pot of garden vegetable chowder on Saturday. Broccoli, carrots, corn, tomatoes, onion and a small potato surrounded by cream and cheese. And yesterday, G's day off, we went and had some Mexican food. No Margarita for me. The rice and the black beans were excellent. I had the special fajita dinner and didn't eat the flour tortillas (lots of calories) along with the steak and chicken. Mucho delicioso. Tonight, leftover soup for G and some salad for me. Tomorrow, my special cherry tomato pasta. Wednesday, New England Boiled Dinner. Thursday, more boiled dinner leftovers. And Friday is pizza night again.

And there's popcorn if either of us can stay awake long enough to pop some and eat it. Thank goodness for TiVo. We can "rewind" to see what we missed when we drifted off to sleep.

I watched the second half of David Copperfield on PBS (hate the begging for money) and some of Moonstruck with Cher. Why do I remember the name Uriah Heap? I didn't read David Copperfield and have never seen any other version. But I "knew" him. Not the actor. Any reason? So I watched the first hour, when David was born and the last 90 minutes of the second part. I don't know what his life was like after they sent him away or what happened to his mother. Guess I'll have to read the book. Or not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

So Many Changes

G's new schedule (which changes each week), my new work schedule (and getting used to it), Riley going to Doggie Daycare (with me this time and not G) and walking the dog after work. I'm going to be pretty excited and pretty exhausted for awhile.

I took a blurry photo of my rutabaga. Turnips have such a lovely watercolor-ish surface. (a rutabaga is a larger variety of a turnip) I was thinking I really should have the rutabaga "model" for a nice watercolor or perhaps an oil pastel. Perhaps the surface is more of a wax encaustic? But, let's be realistic, this turnip's destiny is a New England boiled dinner.

The weather, yesterday, was delightful. Mainers were out in short tee shirts. Not me. I had removed the down under coat from the lineup but still had on two layers for the dog walk plus a light hat and light gloves (which I removed). I will never be a Mainer, as I wasn't born here, so I don't have to demonstrate the "cold hardiness" that they enjoy so much. It was in the 40's.

The snow in the yard is compacting with the sun and "heat" making it easier for Riley to chase and chew sticks and small tree limbs he drags around. Small. Like 5 to 8 feet long. I'm hoping the snow has melted enough to get the gate to the garden open so I can dump my compost bucket in the compost bins. I certainly won't be planting my peas this week. Unless I shovel the snow off a raised bed.

The Art Group organizer sent photos of the group working on collages. Everyone looked exactly as I remembered them looking. I have to come to realize that the photo of me is what I look like. Old. Not thin. Double chin. So depressing. And I hate the way my hair looked. The double chin thing has always been a problem for me if I don't hold my head UP. And I am NOT photogenic. I deleted all the pictures.

Today: G has the day off so we will do something together? I have laundry to do, I'd like the floors vacuumed, the garden gate dug out, the collage materials on the dining room table returned to their proper places, sweaters to hand wash. My work clothes are washed and ready to wear, my lunch bag and keys have been located, the Jeep has gas in it. Ready to begin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Still Blooming

A good couple of days. Lunch with the Frayed Duo was perfection. Good Food. Book Sale Chat. Craft How To. And the weather that day was frightful. Snow. Sleet. Rain. All in one morning before 11 am.

I learned how to make a rag rug with a toothbrush tool (needle/pusher/thing). Well, I saw one being made and watched the tutorial and now just have to try it.

Finally made a short forage in the grocery store. G needed breakfast supplies. Orange juice, bagels, yogurt. So, while there, I also purchased supplies for the St Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner. All on sale. Today I return for pizza supplies cause it's Friday and Friday is pizza day.

I have packed up two bags for Goodwill. And yesterday (at Goodwill) purchased three green shirts for me to wear to work and three for G to wear to work. I used my $25 unemployment stimulus check. I return to work on the 17th. Nineteen hours the first week, so I will report that income on next week's unemployment report and see what happens.

Today, I need to get dressed, walk the dog, go to the grocery store and get some sleep. I must have gotten coffee with caffeine yesterday at lunch because I was awake ALL NIGHT. I am SO tired. And because I was awake, in the dark, I ran through all the things that worry me, make me crazy, such as why was the furnace going on every 5 minutes. And, by the way, the furnace is still going on way too often for my comfort (and nerves) and it isn't cold or warm in here. So why? I may have a nervous breakdown by noon. Would a banana calm me down?

I have to organize doggie daycare for the dog when I go to work. And drop him off and pick him up. Now that G is back to managing a restaurant, he can't just leave when his shift is over. He has to stay and finish things. And doggie day care ends at 6 pm on the DOT. And your dog better be on his way home by then. More and more of the daily dog care is now my responsibility, and really, I don't care for it. I don't get any of the doggie adoration. G walks in the room and you'd think the dog won Megabucks. I walk in and he may lift his head off the dog bed and he may not. Saving all the love for G.

But I'm going back to work in the greenhouse and the fushias and geraniums are waiting for me already and more coming in each day. Such a riot of color, earthy smells and LIGHT streaming through the glass ceiling. I won't even mind the wet socks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dearest Dreams Coming True

Remember when I was so sad? Well, I'm happy again. Enjoying the sun shining on my face, the gray sky full of snowflakes, the smell of spring in the damp, warmish air, opening the windows for the first time in 2009 to let fresh air into the house (only momentarily), eating cereal out of my favorite Pottery Barn bowl, coffee from my favorite polka dot cup, collecting sticks and branches for the dog to chase and chew, watching Riley run like the wind back to the house where G has just driven the truck. Little things. Happy things. It feels good. Real good.

I now have more fabric. More blues and more browny greens. More squares and more circles. I made a huge error in cutting up the half yards of focus fabrics. I could have used them for the borders if I had left half uncut. But I didn't so later when I am finished with squares and circles I will have to go searching for a border fabric. I intend to search here at home and not in the stores. I noticed the strips I cut yesterday were not "exactly" perfectly cut. That's because I am sloppy and the ruler slides. Which means I will have to be patient and fix the problems when I do the quarter inch seams. Doing things right the first time is easier.

I now have all the fabrics I used for the French Hens (not chickens!) quilt. It took some digging but I found them. I pinned the new squares on the padded board which is leaning against the Hens. It was, then, that I realized I needed the rest of the fabrics for the new quilt. It was my intuitive mind sending a message. I like when that happens. Or else, the first time I went looking for the Hen remainders, I only found half.

My neighbor asked me yesterday evening if I would be interested in a joint garage sale in May or June. I said yes. So now my sorting will have more purpose.

Tomorrow I am having lunch with two members of the Frayed Edges. We'll be discussing library book sales and not fiber art but I am pretty excited about seeing the two of them. Now would be a great time to use my "linking" skills but I didn't plan ahead.

I haven't had to go to the grocery store. Still plenty of stuff to eat in the pantry and fridge. I may be able to wait until Thursday (a whole week) before picking up supplies for G's breakfasts. I would encourage you to try this yourselves. Use what you have stored in the freezer and pantry and don't go shopping for a week. No stockpiling. Just decide to do it without planning ahead. And, if you need 1 to 3 items, like milk, eggs, butter, go ahead. But only three. And the three items should be necessary ingredients for recipes. As an example: If I had dead bananas in the fridge and wanted to make banana bread but didn't have an egg or enough flour, then I would buy some. Or better yet, ask my neighbor for some.

Right now I have two leftover flour tortillas in the fridge and I am trying to think of something to make that would use them. A sandwich wrap? I also have a 1/2 cup of baked beans, some sour cream and a jar of of pickled jalapenos. And, of course, the three dead bananas in the fridge which will be turned into incredible banana bread this afternoon.

Incredible Banana Bread 350 degree oven, greased 9" loaf pan (I spray with Pam)

4 Tablespoons of butter, room temp or softened in micro
1/2 cup sugar
3 dead bananas, peeled and mashed
1 egg (I use egg beaters in everything)
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup of ONE of these items, not all. Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream

If you don't have any of these items, use 1/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup milk and add a teaspoon of vinegar. Let sit till curdled. About 5 minutes. Half and half and whipping cream can also be used. No milk? Use an additional 1/4 cup yogurt, sour cream or cottage cheese. Or use liquid coffee creamer. I have used "bad" sour cream in the bread and it was still incredibly good.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
mix all the dry stuff together and stir.

Cream all the butter, sugar, egg and milk. I use an electric hand mixer. Add bananas and sour cream (or one of the others) Mix well.

Now mix all the wet and dry together and then : (Add the optional 2/3 cup raisins or chopped walnuts. I add walnuts. But if you feel crazy and wild: add chocolate chips.) and scoop into the loaf pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for one hour. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before tipping out of the loaf pan.

I wrap in foil when completely cool (after I have sliced one of the crispy ends off and eaten it alongside a cup of tea). Best kept in the fridge so it doesn't develop "banana bread blue spots". I know there are fans of banana bread mold, but I'm not one of them.

This is the very best banana bread you will ever make. My gift to you today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Never Enough

Fabric variety when making a scrap quilt. I can see now that I need more choices and after digging through piles in the workroom, I found the remains of the French chicken quilt and will be cutting that fabric into 5.5 inch squares and 4 inch circles. More varieties of blue and yellow and some greens and browns. And I think I will remove the lime green.

Each time I go to visit K, I come back wanting my house and activities to match hers. We have the same coffee maker, sitting next to a small tray with cream and sugar. My cups are on a metal stand and hers hang under the kitchen cabinets from cup hooks. I have 6 mugs and she has more than a dozen. I have a little container full of small spoons next to the two Polish Pottery sugar bowls (one cream and one sugar).

When we burn brush, we have lawn chairs nearby and big cups full of ice and the "beverage". K's own mix of lemonade and green tea. I have all the ingredients but it just doesn't taste right here in Maine. K suggests I use the same jug to prepare the "beverage". I have it on my shopping list. When G and I did the big burn pile here in Maine last fall, there were no lawn chairs and no beverages. What a bummer!!!

On this visit, K had salads with "all the fixings" in little screw top containers. Ready to use. I already have the generous salad bowls K uses (bought those three or four visits ago) and we enjoy salad as an easy lunch and supper. K had diced red pepper, sliced almonds, green onion, shredded cheddar cheese, croutons, chinese noodles and a whole shelf of salad dressings. I added julienned carrots (cut with the chef's knife I made her buy last year, to match mine at home). We also had leftover chicken from Zaxby's. I think she had dried cranberries but we didn't use them. We had salads for lunch and each day we thought we had made the best one ever. I brought home little screw top containers for my own salad "fixings".

Another good idea Kay has is a sewing tray. Just a small, wooden, tea tray. K has glued a magnet (one of those things businesses mail you) in one corner to hold needles and pins, a painted card stock box with a lid holds more pins, another small flat box holds thread, thread clippers, masking tape etc. The remainder of the tray is open and in my usage of it, while there, it held my freezer paper circles and the embroidery floss I use to applique the circles to the squares. Everything close at hand and easily picked up and moved. And no need to stick pins and needle into the arms of the couch or chair. Or into the knee of your pants. Well, I don't "stick" them into my knee, but I do "pin" them into the fabric over my knee. I'm at that point in life where I lose the needles and pins constantly. And with a dog, I have to be more careful.

I don't think K has ever taken any ideas home from my house. She has taken home fabric. And she has asked for and used recipes for food I cook when visiting.

What brings all this to mind today, is the fact that I prefer the spare, clean home that K maintains and not the cluttered, messy place I call home. Here I sit at the computer desk and I am surrounded by little piles of "junk" that no one uses but is still here. The top of a pen, a clip, some Christmas evergreen made of paper, a film canister, paper clips, a coaster, 2 phone cards, scissors, post its, bills, articles clipped from the newspaper, business cards, magazine labels (used to get refunds), menus. I don't toss it all because I was raised by parents and grandparents who saved things "just in case we need it and there isn't any more". In fact, I filled a 40 cubic yard dumpster with 86 years of my Dad's "saved junk". I need to do the same with my own junk. Not a dumpster, but several boxes and bags each week. The boxes to Goodwill and the bags to the dump.

That's what I brought back from K's this year. And the need to paint my rooms the same tan color with bright white trim. I had spent a great deal of time (years) trying to buy the same dishes K has (no longer made) but in beige or tan and have now settled on using my Polish Pottery daily and no longer treating it like a decor item.

So today: fill a garbage bag with debris, fill a box with Goodwill, walk the dog, cut out more squares, serve leftovers for dinner. G got promoted to manager this weekend and is at his new restaurant today instead of having a day off. Never a dull moment around here!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Winter Blooms

I have been lucky this winter. I have managed to have something blooming for all these cold, dark winter months. First amaryllis, then christmas cactus, then the lovely clivia with yellow flowers touched with pale orange. I now have a gorgeous orchid in bloom for the next several weeks (multiple stems) and another clivia (this time in a deep orange) still in bud. Not so spectacular, a geranium, has been in bloom since summer, even though I have pruned it back, hard, several times. Just keeps making flowers.

It is just about time for me to set up the bay window for seed starting. I need to get my peppers going as they are very slow to start. I plan to try Fava beans this spring along with kale, beets and little turnips. I already have garlic planted. The peppers will spend the spring months in the house along with the tomatoes I start from seeds. It will be a long time before it's warm enough outside for anything "tender". My friend Patty and I may plant onions and potatoes in her larger garden to share. I will try leeks again this year and plant them in deep furrows this time. Shallots also.

I was going to photograph the little blocks I worked on while at K's. I need to do that while the sun is shining and the dog is sleeping. I made over 40 five inch squares with a 4 inch circle of another fabric appliqued in the center. Sort of the center. I decided not to measure but to "eye" the center and just let them be a bit off. So after I stop blogging, I will run down to the workroom and get pins and tack blocks to the display board and snap a few pictures. I wanted a French feel and you'll let me know if it works?

I saw a quilt made this way in a show in Damariscotta a few years ago. In fact, there were two pieces in the show that got me interested in quilting again. And I hadn't been interested for quite awhile. The second was a strange but wonderful piece titled Red Lanterns and I think it was made by Schultz. From New York or New Jersey. The most outrageous patterned commercial fabrics sewn together into this wonderful, vibrant piece. Made me want to go shopping for big prints. Huge prints. I drew it into my journal but hadn't brought a camera to the show. So I only have my "selective" memory of both pieces.

I did get into one quilt shop while on vacation to buy another "French" green for the quilt. And two little fat quarters for my Gingerbread quilt which I will make "someday". I am looking for a few commercial pieces that look like candy. The one I bought looks like a fat red and white stripe candy cane. It will be nice as window shutters on the candy houses. The other is a petite pink and cream stripe with tiny hearts. It looks delicious.

Riley and I finally got going and walked yesterday in the drizzle. We met a baby dog who is just 10 weeks old. So adorable. Riley walked up ahead and the baby dog followed. They have named her Spice but I thought the owner said Spike. I have to remind myself of the correct name by saying Sugar and Spice.

The sun is shining today. It makes such a difference.

I won't be returning to work until after the 15 th so I have another week to entertain myself. I have two books to read, the little blocks to sew and I am having a bit of fun trying to feed us with what is in the fridge and pantry -- no shopping. Last night I threw together grilled cheese sandwiches using stale hamburger buns cut side down and served the little round sandwiches with canned baked beans I doctored up with ketchup, mustard and brown sugar. We opened a jar of the zucchini pickles I canned this summer.

As long as I have garlic and onions, we should be okay. Today I'll be making pork roast and potato dumplings with sauerkraut. Comfort food from my grandmother's kitchen. I hope I have some sauerkraut in the pantry!!!!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Some People

Go on vacation and bring back stuff that is a whole lot more interesting than four big containers of coffee creamer. I even had to check a second bag (for $15) to bring this stuff home. Yes, I have tried the local brands of coffee creamer and they just aren't as "wonderful" as the Publix brand.

I also returned home with 6 (maybe more) pairs of Smartwool socks. Some were expensive and some were marked down to $5. I like them because they stay warm even when wet and they feel cozy. Not itchy.

So here I am back home after 12 days of having a very good time with my best friend K. We started the vacation with three full days of burning brush and pine straw. Big. Hot. Smoky. Fires. Man, did we stink! And after a full day of burning, we relaxed with cocktails. Lots of gin. I tried to stay on my diet but fell off the first evening with the spaghetti and meatball leftover's from K's husband's birthday dinner and the chocolate birthday cake and ice cream. It was downhill from there with Meatball Subs and birthday cake the next night. And I had Hooter's wings a day or two before I returned home.

It even SNOWED while I was there. Not the 20 inches that fell in Maine on the evening I traveled to Atlanta, but a decent 4 inches of wet snow on the ground. And no snowplows. Lots of snowmen showed up the next morning lining the streets in K's subdivision. They sported hats made from baskets and beer cap eyes. No carrot noses.

Riley has returned from his 11 days at the kennel looking very trim and exhausted. He's been asleep most of the time since we picked him up yesterday. And I think he had another bath which probably is a very interesting "story" the kennel isn't sharing with us. They only said he was a "very good boy".

I am still in my robe and socks. Drinking coffee with Publix creamer. Tired but happy. Even though I had an enormous stack of Medicare "this is not a bill" statements from my dad's last month to open. The bills will arrive at some point in time.

My dad's empty house has used $79 worth of water and sewer and $13 worth of electricity this month. Guess it's time to have the caretaker shut off the water and then turn off the heat ($166). The lawyer is sending me things to sign and the bank has STILL not transferred the accounts into my name. It was delightful not to have to think about all this for 12 days.

I think I'll check the fridge for supplies and then make a trip to the grocery store for something to make for dinner tonight. Vacation is over.