Saturday, December 31, 2005
On closets, cleaning, quilting, weight loss and toenails...
All of these things intersect in my life- like the burmuda triangle. Bonnie was talking about cleaning her closet the other day. She mentioned that she wore the same colors that she likes to quilt with. Lots of denim and khaki... got to thinkin' about that. My closet is in the throes of an identity crisis. I used to wear lots of khaki- actually, I wore pretty much exclusively khaki. Khaki skirts, pants and jumpers, jackets. Only solid-color shirts- mostly tan. It was kinda sad and weird, because that certainly wasn't the way I quilted. I love color. I've always loved color. I just didn't want it on me. (But I did and still do have a thing for mono-chromatic quilts.)
But then, I lost 40 pounds. No, I'm not bragging- it's rather embarrassing to admit that I had that much extra weight on me. I do happen to be on the tall side of average, but it was still 40 pounds. And it seems to be the time of year when people start making plans to shed those few extra pounds. So what does weight-loss have to do with quilting and closets? Well, now I wear lots of pink, and I've expanded my horizons to stripes- still not crazy about flower prints- unless they're tiny. I have turquoise shirts and raspberry skirts. Lime-green sweaters and purple t-shirts. And my quilting has changed. I play more than I used to. Someone was talking, here on the Maverick ring, about losing weight, and while I think that it is great for your health, it will most definitely have an impact on your wardrobe- not just the sizes- and on your quilting. It's not a bad thing, just different. I find that I expect more from my quilting. I want it to please me, not just be acceptable. But at the same time, I can force myself to work on something that I particularly don't care for because it is for someone else- and they would love it- while before, I just didn't have the heart to do that. And I love putting colors together that don't exactly go together- just because I like them. But some things stay the same. Like the color blue.
Whenever my husband would start tickling me, all I had to say was the word , "blue, blue, blue," and I wouldn't laugh. I have tried blue. I really have. I even bought me the most beautiful blue shirt from J.Jill- love their clothes- a blue drawstring-pocket shirt. And didn't wear it once. I tried, but before I'd get out of the bedroom, I had to change. It was just too depressing. I have no idea why. I like it at a distance. Sarah loves blue and I love her quilts. I'm trying to work with it, now. I'm making another Pineapple Blossom in blues and yellow. Yeah, I had to buy the fabric instead of using my stash, because I didn't have a single peice of blue. Weird. The whole time I've been working on it, I keep having pessimistic thoughts about how this isn't going to work. I know it's just the blue telling me that. I feel certain it will be ok. I just have to push through. Ok, I do keep bursting out into tears as I'm sewing, but honestly, maybe it's just hormones.
And toenails and quilting? Well, I had a lunch date with some girlfriends, yesterday. After my shower, I look at my toes and realize, I could really use a pedicure. I do my own. I have a choice to make- paint my toenails or sew for an extra 5 minutes. I seriously considered it... went for the sewing. My mom says I definitely have a sickness. I don't guess that's news to anybody, here.
(This is the second quilt top I finished using my FW. I had all of the blocks made, I just needed to join them. The points aren't quite as close as I'd like, but it takes awhile to get used to a new machine. You'd think that a quarter inch would be the same, no matter what. It's for my cousin, for college. His school colors are green and white. Happy new year to all!!)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
It's more like "kinda done." The pineapple blossom blocks are done. Aren't they lovely? Thank you so much for sharing that pattern with us, Bonnie! (I can't even imagine the amount of time it must take to figure one of those up- take all the pictures, type it all in... But I really do appreciate it and I know that there are so many others here, also, that do too!) I used only fabric from my stash. The background peices are all from the same fabric- a fact I nearly regretted. I actually had to peice 2 of the 3 1/2" squares. Now that's using every bit of fabric. And it's a solid- not most quilter's favorite, but I like the soft celery green color. I didn't have much of a selection of light fabrics as I have recently used up a lot in a couple different quilting projects. It's just not very exciting to buy...beige...fabric. You know? So I usually end up with very little in my stash. And it looks so nice in a quilt. Need to change that about myself. I made 48 of Bonnie's pineapple blossom blocks and the top is, thus far, about 58"x72". Something like that. I want to make it larger, so I was thinking that I might use all of those bonus triangle blocks in a saw tooth border. What do you think of that? too pokey? I was thinking to find a batik in, maybe, green. Maybe make a small border, then the sawtooth border and then a wider one. I had some interesting pink/orange fabric, but it muddied up the blossom blocks. It'll have to wait a couple weeks, until I go back to work- and the quilt shop reopens. The Quilter's Toy Box has loads of batiks. I was thinking, if it is alright with Bonnie, that I might see if there is any interest in a class for the Pinapple Blossom. I thought it was a lot of fun and it really slurped up the stash.
Look what Santa brought me!!! No surprise to you Sarah! Judy, the big box under the tree was full of smelly tennis shoes! BUT the box that was wrapped in the bedroom closet... now, that one was a Singer Featherweight! Isn't she a beaut?! I am so thrilled. DH Bill has been bugging me to get a new sewing machine for years, but I kept putting him off. I just hated to get something new. I'm really more of a vintage kind of girl than a designer one. I have an ancient Jeep that I drive around- lots of rust. You know the kind with the wood panels on the side? But I never worry that it is going to get dinged in a parking lot, or that I'll wreck it. It's kinda disposable. It's comfortable. That's the way I felt about my old machine. Yes, lots of weird little quirks, but basically reliable. A new machine? Well, you have to spend all of this time getting to know it, you're worried it'll break. Especially those fancy computerized ones. My SIL has one that actually tells her what to do. The gall. No thank you. Sarah mentioned to Bill way back in July that I might really like a Featherweight. What a friend. Bill has been looking for one, ever since. (You have to know Bill... He is so sweet and generous. My Dad actually admonished me- the week before I was to marry him, to be nice and careful not to take advantage of him. I was offended, but Dad was right. You have to be very careful not to mention that you like something, or else it goes home with you. So what would be wrong with that, you ask? Well, just because I like something doesn't mean I want it or need it. And it wouldn't be any fun to run us into financial ruination for, say, an ice tea maker! I can boil tea just like most of the tea-drinking world.) I'm rambling, right? But I am just so thrilled. Sarah says he called her when I was in WV with my dad, and asked some more specific questions about what I might like. If I recall, that was shortly after I was reading Judy's blog about all of her Featherweights and Singer 301s. I tilted the monitor ever so slightly so Bill could see what I was ohhing and ahhing over. He asked if I might be interested in one of them and I said I was- but didn't know which one. So now that I have the featherweight, he says that if we find a 301 that I like better, that we can always sell the featherweight, since they are so popular. Silly man.
It runs like a dream and I have finished two quilt tops since Xmas- not bad, huh? I had forgetten how fun peicing can be. Honestly, it's been a long time since the activity in my quilting room resembled anything close to mere sewing. With my old sewing machine it was more akin to a WWF wrestling match- complete with trash talk. ie.-"Oh yeah, you're going' down. I am the undisputed champion in this sewing room! You wanna peice of me?" Leaders and enders? na-uh. Not possible, as every single peice had to be fed in- with the pressure foot up. Remember me grumbling about the bulkiness I ran into when I did some of Tonya's letters? Well, that's because sewing more than two layers was almost impossible. Now this baby just glides through tons of seam allowances and, I'm saying this in hushed tones as I don't want to alert the sewing maffia, but I can even sew over seams with pins in them!! I took a clothing construction class in college and I thought the teacher was going to stab me with her pinking shears when I stitched over a pin. But sometimes you kinda need to, you know? And now I can. I can even sew off of the fabric and hop onto another peice. Amazing. It doesn't knot all up in the bobbin case. And the feed dog plate is flat to the machine surface-instead of 1/4" step up- like the old machine and kept flipping my seams in the wrong direction. I don't have to tug and pull and push. I just sit there like a normal human being, and it's so quiet and it doesn't rattle off the table and constantly need to be dragged back into position. Bill even bought me 18 extra bobbins. It does smell a little like the barber clippers that I use on the boys' hair. But that's just the oil, I think. I can live with it. I'm a happy, happy camper! Thank you, Bill!
(Sarah- yet another thing we have in common! I also love using up every bit of thread off the spool! I can hardly stand to let them go!! Notice the pile of spools by my new machine. That's just two weeks worth. I try to throw them away, monthly. Joe once asked me why I keep empty spools of thread and I told him it reminded me that I did get something done, today. I usually pick them up on clearance- just odd colors, ones I consider neutral. I remember when all I did was dress making- it would take me forever to run through a spool of thread- if ever. Now it is an almost daily thing. And that's a good and lovely day!)
Eva was thrilled with her wallhanging. I was surprised by her reaction, when she opened it. I was expecting a shrug of the shoulders, a "that's nice," because she was opening so many presents... But she slapped her hand over her mouth, her eyes were huge. "It's beautiful!" she said so softly as she ran her hands over all the beads. I think she 6 going on 60! She said she remembered coloring all the colors- just like a quilt! She is really very pleased with it. I know you can't tell by the picture, but I decided to take Tonya's advice and go with the "more is more" philosophy. I can see how people could get "embellishment fever" and never want to stop until your project weighs 500 lbs! It is kinda addicting sitting there putting on one bead, then another, another...There are over 1000 beads on that little wallhanging! There are over 500 in the grey area, alone. (My DS Jacob's bead collection has been decimated, somewhat, but he likes it, too, so he doesn't mind.) My favorite beads are the little turquoise daisy sequins on her dress. Eva loves jewelry- so I added a necklace and a couple bracelets. I made a pocket on the backside for her drawing to fit in- as well as a place to put the color copy of it and the label. I enjoyed doing it, but I am glad to have it behind me so I can work on some other UFOs.
Monday, December 26, 2005
This is Will. The love of my life. He's 40. (I just had to say that because I told all of the kids' ages.) And he really is the love of my life. I know it's hard to tell from the picture, but this is my kitchen. His feast was the other night and, with Bill, it is always a big surprise.
He hung about 10 yards of my 120" wide muslin from the kitchen ceiling, making a huge tent. The ends he closed in with extra yardage- Mom, recognize the blue leopard fabric? He hung little white lights above it for stars. So we had ourselves a little "camping trip." He grilled hambugers on the grill and then we had s'mores for dessert- over those little chafing pots. I was a nervous wreck that we'd set something on fire. Never happened- outside a marshmallow or two. He had the camping plates and lanterns on a tablecloth on the floor. No, Grandma didn't sit on the floor. We got her a little table. Bill gave the children each their own huge chocolate candy bar. The kids know that's always part of his ritual- they just have to find it. Once, it was taped to the underside of the table. Once, under the seats. He had them thinking he changed his mind, since they had s'mores. Enough chocolate, right? Nope.
This is the "quilt" that I made Will for Xmas. It is Minkee Blankee on both sides. It weighs a ton. I put extra-high loft batting in it and so it feels like a real fur. Only softer and it doesn't shed! I used 2 yards of fabric on each side, so it is about 60"x70". I nice size to sit under when watching movies or sitting at the computer. There must be some kind of black hole by my computer as I am always freezing when I am sitting here.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
The children are all tucked into bed and the house is settling down for the night. Will was called away to work- he is "on call" throughout the holidays. (I miss him, but I am so thankful that he is only having to work in a hospital on Xmas Eve- it is very sad to think of those that are there because of illness. Hospitals and sickness don't take holidays.) We decided to wait to open presents until Monday- when he would be home. I don't have any particular attatchments to the 25th so that's fine by me. It'll give me one more day to finish wrapping those 60 pairs of socks! Of course, I want to wait until we are all together. Having said that we are waiting one more day to open presents... I must confess to opening one, a few days early. My roommate from college sent me the most amazing gift box.
It's like a little anti-nervous breakdown kit!! And since I just said I don't have any hang-ups about the 25th....I must confess to feeling a little blue at having to spend it alone. So... I broke out all the goodies in the anti-nervous breakdown kit- except the chocolate, but that's another story. I am wearing the flannel PJ's she got me last year- with the Mary Englebreit tea cups of kindness... I showered with the Lavender Kiss My Face bath gel- you won't believe how wonderful I smell! I slathered on lavender and shea butter lotion. I lit the lavender soy candle- we midwesterners appreciate anything in soy- except our food! I brushed my teeth with the Tom's of Maine orange and mango toothpaste- got a shock at how much whiter my teeth are. I smeared my face with anti-aging cream- I usually have enough dry skin flaking off my face to fill a snowglobe, but not anymore! I set out the necklace that she got me to wear with the sweater that Sarah got for me- oh ok, so I opened two presents early. What do you expect when left on my own? The sweater is about the same color as the green box, above. I just love it! So now I feel all pampered and loved and not so down in the dumps. I am planning on finishing up Evabeth's wallhanging, tonight, while watching some movie- haven't decided, yet. I hope everyone is having a lovely Xmas Eve and a wonderful day with your family and loved ones.
This is John, also known as Jack. He's 9. Last, but certainly not least of the kids' feasts. John stays on the walking wounded list. His mouth is always busted and his teeth, well, the dentist really likes Jack. He has braces in his future- as soon as he gets his cap put back on- for the umpteenth time. He had shaved ice with rootbeer over it. Then he had lots of flavored crackers and that funky cheese in a can. Kids loved that. Then he had a great salad- mom has to suggest that salad would be nice or none of the boys would even think of it. Pizza- he made with Chef Boyardee- and you know? It was really very good- we put our own cheese and toppings on them. He served ice cream or sherbet in cones with chocolate chip cookies. Only a kid would think that ice cream sounds good in December. Well, we did have a warm day and I think it got up to nearly freezing. His gift was "screamer balloons"- have you ever seen those? They are about 4 feet long, and after you blow them up, you release them and they scream around the room. How annoying is that? But they kids loved them and they were so... John, that I couldn't say no.
I can't even tell you how much these special evenings mean to us. We have a very long, narrow kitchen table- reminds me of the one Finn described in her old home. DH made it for us the week we moved into our old farm house. Or first meal on it was Thanksgiving- 6 years ago. How righteous was that? It is 8 feet long and only about 28" across. Bill and I sit in the middle, together, on one of the long sides. And as I sit there by the light of candles and Christmas lights and I look down the length of that table at all of these beautiful smiling faces, oh, how could my heart be anything but filled with such joy that I can't express. I think that sometimes people believe that things need to be perfect in order for them to be truly happy. Newsflash for 'em. Life will never be perfect- not here. And as my Aunt June says, "Those hard times make such sweet memories." So, life is sweet. Bittersweet at times, but sweet nonetheless. And I'm gonna soak it all up!
Friday, December 23, 2005
This is Rebekah. Most people call her Boo. Sometimes, Bek. Sarah's DS, Ian, started calling her Rebekah-boo. Then it was Bekah-boo. And finally it was just Boo. She says, "My church name is Rebekah Jehosheba. My home name is Bekah-boo." She's 4.
She had her feast and did a lovely job. Her appetizer was those frozen french toast sticks- dipped in strawberry preserves that had been warmed up. She had a nice salad and chicken soup- "with those twisty noodles." She made crescent rolls with some help from the Pillsbury dough boy. She was quite handy at rolling all 64 of them up! She had strawberry poke cake for dessert and gave all the children three little strawberry candies. Notice a trend? She loves strawberries. I take each of the children out to lunch the day before, or the day of, their feast and then we go grocery shopping, together. She ate at the Chinese restaurant and wanted brocoli after her icecream dessert. I know she ate her weight in the green stuff. Every mother's dream- a child who will eat her vegetables!
My Basket of 2" strips...
You know, I'm still not sure where everyone else gets their tubs of 2" strips. I had to make mine. Anyone feel up to filling me in? Bonnie's quilt patterns so often call for hauling out the tub of 2" strips... I get to looking around my quilting room, thinking mine must have wandered off or something. At anyrate, I picked out some scraps from my stash- aren't you proud, Judy- and cut a basket of 2"strips. I feel part of the co-hesive whole. I must be a real quilter, now. I am working on a pineapple blossom- love how everyone else's is turning out. I am getting close to having 46 blocks made- with all the little bonus triangle blocks- and wow, now I can see the fun of having a bunch of those 2" strips. But where do they come from???
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This is Joe. He is a great guy. 15 years old and a heart of pure gold. He is always laughing and finding funny things in what the little ones are doing. But he's the "big dog" so ya better tread respectfully. He had his feast the other night and true to his age and gender there was a mountain of food. He went Mexican. No surprise, there, though fettaccini alfredo is his favorite. I think he was trying to be unpredictable. He had chili-cheese nachos and then soft-shell tacos for his entre. For dessert, he had warm brownies topped with vanilla ice-cream and hot-fudge sauce, whipped cream and a cherry on top. He gave each of the children a satin bookmark with pretty foil inspirational sayings on them as his gift.
I have been sick over the past few days. When Joe realized that I wasn't going to make it out to church, Sunday evening, he says, "Are you getting enough fluids?" How cute is that? Of course, he gets his mother-hen tendancies honestly, as his dad is very good at it. I am passable. A few minutes later, he brings me a diet Coke for my headache and a bottle of water with strict instructions that I was to have both drank by the time he got home. He's really a great kid and I couldn't be more pleased with the way he is growing into a fine young man. I'm not even going to get into what I consider essential qualities in a man, these days. It's ok, you can sigh a big sigh of relief, now.
While I was sick, it got me to thinking... not sure how lucid my thoughts were as I definitely had a fever, but nonetheless... What if you could schedule a cold? Not that you'd want a cold, but what if you knew that on, say, Friday, you were going to inevitably come down with a nasty cold? 'Cause I know that at my house, they come at such inconvenient times and I am never ready to be stopped in my tracks by illness. But what if... I got the whirlpool all cleaned out, made a big pot of chicken noodle soup, had a new box of Puffs Plus, nice clean flannel sheets on the bed, a stack of DVDs that I've been wanting to watch but haven't had time, and plenty of light cranberry juice and diet gingerale... now, I ask you, how bad would that cold seem, then? But it would take some planning, yah? so... do you think I could arrange a nervous breakdown? Not that I'd want to have a nervous breakdown, but what if I knew one was going to inevitably hit, say, the day following Xmas... What do you think I would need to really enjoy it? I am figuring on the following... completely cleaning my sanctuary of the master bedroom and bath, 'cause what fun would a nervous breakdown be if no one can tell where the moaning is coming from? (My bedroom looks like a cyclone hit it- a cyclone full of clothes and newspapers. And the bathroom...well, the contents of what should be a walk-in closet are spilling out into the bathroom. The whirlpool is actually clean but I'd just like to give a little advice to those of you that think a soaking tub is dull... I'd take the dull compared to the spiders that occasionally creep out of the jets. EEEEECH!! Anything but relaxing. It only has to happen once, and ya get the willies everytime you sit in it. So the jets need to be preflushed and honestly, it kinda snuffs the mood.) I need a freshly laundered pair of thermal underwear, some fluffy socks, and my terry bathrobe- just to carry the whole, "I'm falling apart" bit. Again, the tissues. Chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate. Maybe a schedule for cups of tea to magically appear on my now cleared bedside table... I think 2-3 days would do me. Yep, it's goin' on the schedule. I gotta go clean my bedroom.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
actually, it's a bag for her Bible. This is part of Sarah's Xmas gift that I gave her. When we were down in FL., my sister made me and my DM and DSIL each a bag. My Bible fit in it, perfectly, so that is what I use mine for. Laurie had found this old quilt top at a flea market- with holes, and made all of our bags out of it. I really need to take a picture of that one. Anyway, she had embroidered all of our names on these little pockets in various colors. Her DMIL has a Viking embroidery machine and I can't say I've ever been interested in one until I saw the things my sister could do with it. She showed us how it worked and as a demonstration peice, she worked up this pocket for Sarah in the colors Sarah picked out. When Laurie was done she handed it to Sarah, who handed it to me and said, "Make me a bag, sometime." Well, how hard could it be? really. Yeah, I think I could figure it out. I didn't have a cool vintage quilt to work with, but I did have this little Ricky Tims convergence I had fiddled with. I wasn't so thrilled with it that I had planned to do something more with it... It was like one of Finn's orphans. I thought it might be big enough. Backed it with some vintage-esse fabric. Played with the qulting. Tried Darcie's stones... I still need a lot more practice- it takes a lot of concentration to get them really scootched together like she does. I didn't have a pattern- just based it on the one Laurie made me- only a bit bigger as my Bible sticks out of the top a little. I had some vintage binding already made up from a previous project. The handles are made from rolling the quilted fabric up so they are very sturdy and cushy. All in all, I used every bit of that fabric and I am pretty happy with the results. I filled it with 1/2 yard cuts of blue and yellow. Figured that if Sarah has sworn off buying stash fabric, somebody needs to take up the slack!
aren't they nice? We had a very pleasant lunch together- too short, too short!! But it was such an unexpected surprise for just the chance to see each other so I'll take it and try not to whine about the brevity of our time. I ate too much shrimp. What's new? I was able to hand-deliver her quilt to her and a couple little gifts. I'll post a picture, next, maybe. The kids got a little visit in, also. We are planning a tiny retreat of our own in June for our birthdays- Sarah's mom volunteered to watch a couple kiddos. Brave woman, that. Sarah's DH told us how to change a water pump in a toyota truck- I must say, I am fascinated by all things mechanical, and thought he should blog about it- it was a funny story with a happy ending. Who couldn't use one of those? Sarah told how she wore a complete stranger's less than clean pants to her Grandma's funeral- come on, DSarah, it was funny. We just had a really good visit.
I just heard from Sarah. Her Grandmother's funeral was last night. She said that they were married for 62 years. I know that her grandfather must be so sad. She sounded tired, but she is on her way home.
On a brighter note, she will be coming through Indianapolis around lunchtime. Quite a coincidence, eh? We will be meeting her for lunch. Joe's Crab Shack, here I come! Bill and I are taking the girls since they are good friends of Sarah's two knee-munchers. I got her presents all wrapped up- ok, it's a plastic bag, mostly. Only one little thing looked like it needed wrapping. Even added jingle bells. Well, I need to go try to pull a brush through this mess I call hair. I am so excited to see Sarah. Isn't that a great Xmas present? But I won't turn my nose up to the big box that mysteriously appeared under the tree, this morning. Has my name on it. hmmmm....
Friday, December 16, 2005
This is another of my very first quilts. My second peiced one. My first scrappy one. This was in the same magazine as the red school house quilt and I thought it looked like a lot of fun. Figured that if I couldn't do it, I'd just play around with the different blocks in it. There were so many, that I thought I'd try to complete one, a day. That's when I discovered how much fun it can be to play with things like that for short little bursts, without making a huge time-commitment out of things. I had five busy little boys, at that time, and I'd get frustrated if I tried to work for very long. So this was a really fun quilt to do. It was also my first experience with applique. The angel was done like Eleanor Burns suggested(I seem to mention her quite a lot, but, back then, she really was the only quilter you could watch on public television. There weren't many other books out there. And I still think she's brilliant. Maybe a bit kooky, but in a nice sort of way.)- sewing two layers together and then turning, and blind stitching it down. I didn't care for the end results so much as they tended to be bulky and it seemed to muddle the detail. The horn, I just needle-turned and wow! was that ever fun and I really liked how flat it sat on the quilt. By the time I got to the WELCOME, I was having a lot of fun with applique and it is still something that I enjoy- even if my results are mediocre. The fishy on the right side, had a frontal lobotomy. Poor dear. Had his eye pulled off and it created a little rip. I have been intending to applique a set of fins on him and give him a prosthetic eye... but another thing I have yet to get to. Hmmm... could be a pattern... nah. My favorite thing about this quilt is the border. I usually don't mess with peiced ones, but I loved this one. All those little squares were sewn together, one at a time. I had the boys take turns sitting next to me and putting them right sides together and then handing them to me. Some of them got sewn wrong-side up, but that's ok. This is also my first try at quilting. I did a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch, and then I even hand-quilted in some of the spaces. There are some areas I've been meaning to... oh, bugger bombs... it is a pattern.
It's 3am and I can't sleep...
Maybe it was too much diet Coke...maybe too much knitting... I swan (as my great Aunt Margaret would say) knitting seems to put you to sleep while you're doing it, but once you try to lay your head down, you're still trying to slip that needle under that yarn, pull the thread over, loop the needle under, slip the loop off... well, it's just stuck in your brain like a scratchy record. Maybe I'm a bit obsessive. Anyway,
This is a picture of the first quilt I ever made that was, what I would call, peiced. My first actual quilt was an Eleanor Burns' Trip Around the World. I made a queen one for our bed and was pretty pleased with myself. It took me longer than the day she said it would take, but it was something I actually finished, so it couldn't have taken much longer. I made 3 more, but alas, the two I kept are in shreds in a landfill somewhere. Wal-Mart fabric, a ton of kids, and I just tied it- which is hard on a big quilt, 'cause of all the pulling. You eventually pull holes in it where the threads are. And you know kids, once there is a hole big enough for their fingers to fit in, out comes the stuffing. Tragic, but true. But they got my feet wet and I was hooked. I saw a pattern for this one in a magazine. It had a lot of things in it that I had never tried, but thought the directions seemed good. I had such a blast. I still remember the cool June breeze coming through the window and Sarah Brightman singing loudly on the stereo- DH had gotten me the CD for my birthday. This quilt is also tied, but it has held up better. I have been meaning to quilt it with swirls- for snow, but just haven't gotten to it. I backed it with a bath blanket(try saying that really fast, 3x!)- a very heavy cotten flannel-type thing, so the kids love to cuddle under it. It is very "early 90's", but I still like a lot of things about it- such as the star sashing.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
This is DD Evabeth. She's 6. She had her feast and she fixed breakfast for everyone. That girl can really multi-task! She was baking cakes in her and her sister's Easy-bake ovens- we all got 2 each, she was making waffles in the toaster and quartering oranges all at the same time. Oh, and she was reminding me to set the timer. In case you ever need this vital peice of information, it takes 8 minutes to bake a cake in an Easy-bake oven. She made 22 cakes! She had scrambled eggs, bacon, polish sausage, and sausage gravy and biscuits. The cakes she just sprinkled powdered sugar on top. But the funniest thing about her feast, was her gift. She gave each of the kids their own can of whipped cream! They are always wanting to squirt it into their mouths, but I won't let them. It was so funny when she was handing them out. The boys laughed their heads off! They were sitting in the TV room later in the evening, watching a movie, with their cans of Reddi-whip. Looked like a bunch of depressed women on a binge! Evabeth is such a sweetheart and she insisted we put "fluffy-stuff" on the seats in the kitchen- "...so it'll be more comfy for them." We used old batting scraps. She also wanted to decorate the table with a baby Jesus. I have a thing for nativity sets... but there is one vital rule I never break when acquiring a new one. The baby Jesus must be swaddled. No hands or feet outside the covers. Have you ever noticed how he looks like he's flailing when his poor little hands and feet are all sticking out? What kind of mother would Mary be if she left a little new-born baby all hanging out like that?
The little quilted peice is the wallhanging I am working on for Eva for Xmas. She drew me this beautiful picture- "Mom, I have quilts in my head." She asked if I could tell that she "...did it like a quilt?" Maybe you can see part of her drawing over on the left. This is a little out of my realm, but I just loved her drawing so much and thought that she would enjoy having it hanging in her room. I did my best to keep true to her art- figuring that even if I am not the artistic type, her natural flair will come through. I am finishing up the binding and then I am going to embellish it. I'm not much of an embellisher. I bought some pretty glass beads- like the ones on her headband. And then a fringe of beads for the bottom. I also wanted to embellish her dress with some little seed beads. I bubble-jetted (is that a word?)some fabric and plan on making a fabric color-copy of her drawing to stitch onto the back of the one I made. That way she'll always have it. Evabeth was diagnosed, yesterday, with epilepsy. She isn't scary or anything. She just takes little trips. She says her brain is talking to her and she has be be very still and quiet so she hears and then, can "snap out of it." But you know what? All of that doesn't matter a bit, because she is beautiful- inside and out- just the way she is.
Recipe for Sausage Gravy
- Brown 1 lb of sausage- get a good quality sausage
- 1/4 cup butter- don't drain the sausage- I never said this was lowfat. But if the sausage is quality, then there shouldn't be more than a tablespoon of fat from it.
- 1/2 cup of flour- stir the flour into sausage and melted butter. This should look pretty dry. Cook for a minute or two.
- Now is the tricky part of knowing how much liquid to add. This is how I do it on my stove, in my pot. Pour milk over sausage mixture until sausage is just covered. Stir and cook until very thick.
- Now, again, pour milk over sausage mixture until covered again. I'm guessing about 5 cups, total. Stir until smooth. Cook on low until thick. If it is still too thick, just add a cup of water. Simmer until the desired consistency- this is just a matter of preference. It'll get thicker as it cooks. So if it is thicker than you like, just keep adding milk or water. If you add too much, just cook longer and it will recover.
- salt and pepper to taste- lots and lots of pepper and the salt depends on the sausage. We also like the hot sausage, but pick the kind you like. Serve hot over hot biscuits.
Hope everyone is healthy and happy! Blessings on you!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Isn't this a funny picture? DS Paul had pulled up a patch of moss and other flora from the bank of his Grandfather's creek when we were there a couple years ago. He called it his coonskin hat! Paul(10) had his feast, Saturday night. He was celebrating his, finally, finishing the fifth Harry Potter book. If you know anything about those books, you know they each weigh about the same as a small child. He was pretty thrilled, and when he invited his "guests" into the feast, he says, "Come in and wreak havoc!" They have a lot of experience doing that. He had 13 orders of chicken sticks from the local Chinese restaurant for his appetizer. He had even made Butter Beer- apparently, from the book, and the kids weren't too sure they wanted to drink anything that had butter in it, but they were good sports, and everybody tried it. Then they moved onto the Mountain Dew Pitch Black. Need I say they were all hyper by meal's end? He had chicken Parmesan and corn and bread sticks. Then he made rice-crispy treats with chocolate rice and fruity rice. It was carbohydrate heaven. Paul never does anything halfway. He gave the other children Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans aka Jelly Bellies. Just looking at everything that he made makes me feel woozy from diabetic shock! But the kids didn't seem to mind- fact is, they thought it was all rather tasty. Well, it is a once in a year event, right?
I have been knitting up a blue streak- as much as I can with the gimp finger and I am really not a knitter- how do you fix mistakes- and I make many? So I usually stick to crocheting, but I have been using that eyelash yarn, and it is impossible to see the stitches, so knitting it is. Haven't made too many mistakes, ok, maybe I have, but with that yarn, you can't tell. I made myself a scarf- that was the practice run. then I knitted one for each of my girls. Now I am working on another one. They go pretty fast. I have been watching movies late at night as I work on them. Return to Me, Fools Rush In, The Librarian and Cinderella Man were all good. The Wedding Date and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind were both lousy- to the point of being painful- each for completely different reasons. Just to let you know. Well, I'm off.
Finished Sarah's quilt...
the other day and it was a good feeling. I had to order more thread and the guys at King's Men Quilting Supply came through for me. It is a very pretty quilt to begin with, so I hope that the quilting I did on it doesn't take away from that. My mom wanted to see another picture of it- I see another log cabin in her future. The quilt is so large (108"x108") that I couldn't lay it out to show all of it. But you get the idea, eh? Sarah called me when I got to work, yesterday, to tell me that her grandmother had suffered a stroke and wasn't expected to recover. She is on her way to Wisconsin. I am concerned for her as we have had some pretty bad road weather, but they do have 4x drive. I know she would appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers. She told me to hold onto her Xmas box as she is hoping she can persuade her DH to stop back by this way on their drive home... With all the small peicing in that quilt and three cones of thread, it weighs alot, so it would be nice to hand it over in person- Stacy is always saying that the quilts made, today, aren't as heavy as they used to be... well, this one, with cotton batting, might be a hit with him.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
This is Daniel. He's 14 and this is how a 14 year-old reacts when there is a camera around. They scoff...they frown... then they give in and look really, really cute! Couldn't we just skip the frowning and scoffing and get straight to the cute? Nah, that wouldn't be cool. His feast consisted of all fesh fruit- nearly amputated the tip of a finger on one of Darilyn's pineapples. See? Ya live in Hawaii and you get blamed for my being a klutz! Note to self, and you know this one, but it never hurts to reiterate, NEVER rush with a knife in your hand. It'll never amount to any good. Well, it was only the index finger on my left hand- have 9 other digits and the throbbing only kept me up one night. I'm a "glass is half full" kinda gal. The kids were enchanted by the pomegranate. I don't think they'd ever had one, and having the genes they do, had to pick the thing apart, seed by seed. And it was quite tasty. We had clementines from Spain. Then, it was build your own grinders. Followed by candy bar cake. Oh, and he even made punch. I offered to add chips, but he said that he didn't want it to be all about junk food. The blessings they were thankful for were predictably wide-ranged and covered the gammit from chocolate to dirt. It was a very nice evening.
With all the talk, lately, about what Xmas is and isn't, I thought I'd share just a little amusing antecdote. DH Will picked up a Xmas CD at the Speedway station- you know the shpeel- only $1.99 with a fill-up. He figured, what's 2 bucks? Plus, he knows I love the stuff. Sorry Bonnie, but I love Xmas music and I listen to it, on and off, all year 'round. (When I was a kid, my sister and I would hall the Xmas decorations out of the closet and decorate our bedroom- in July! We'd listen to Xmas records- remember records? The first record I ever bought was Bing Crosby's White Xmas. Of course, the fantasy got off the ground better if we cranked the air-conditioner- sorry, Dad.) Oh, at any rate, back to the bargain Xmas CD. Contemporary Xmas Classics. I've come to the conclusion that there are songs that have no business being contemporized. Take, for instance, Hark The Herald Angels Sing. "Offspring of the virgin womb..." with the snare drum chinging and the trumpets doing a jazzy little number... Now that's just beyond silly. I don't think the word "womb" belongs in any song remotely jazz-like. When I am quilting, I listen to music very, very, loud, and even then, I only hear about 1/3 of what is being played. I had to take a quick break for a sip of Diet Sunkiss(it has caffeine, Darcy!) and then that line comes blaring out of the speakers, "Offspring of the virgin womb." she bop dubee bop! Nearly sprayed bright orange pop all over Sarah's quilt- wouldn't she have loved that? Cough, cough, splutter, splutter. I mean, what are people thinking? I don't guess they are. I don't have anything against contemporary Xmas music. Like it, even. Things like Deck the Halls, and Silver Bells, Frosty the Snowman, and Jingle Bells. But, please oh puh-lease leave the hymns alone. It's bad enough that they get relegated to the Xmas Department of songs when they were never intended to be stuck there for all eternity, but man, show a little respect!
Recipe For Candy bar cake:
- Make one Devil's Food Cake mix, according to directons, in a 9x13 pan. Leave in the pan.
- While still hot, poke holes in the cake with a butter knife and pour 1 cup of caramel sundae topping over the cake. Some will soak in, some won't. Cool.
- Top with one large tub of Cool Whip.
- Scatter about 6 candy bars, of your choice, coarsely chopped, on top of the Cool Whip. My kids love Butterfinger candy bars. I like an assortment. Keep refrigerated.
I won "best dessert" in a cook-off with this silly little cake, but figured it was kinda rigged, 'cause with the eight kids, the voting was bound to be in my favor. But it is yummy!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
We are getting ready to celebrate our 3rd feast when I realized I haven't had the chance to post- for Grandmother- the happenings from our second feast. This is DS #3, Jacob, and he is 12. He's the artsy type and makes really cool earrings. And tables and just about anything involving his two hands. His feast was Monday night- definitely a nice way to spend a Monday evening. He had an Italian-themed feast with Garlic bread and cheese dip and calzones stuffed with all kinds of good things- there were no leftovers, and that's saying something. For dessert he had chocolate fondue with pound cake, strawberries, bananas, and pineapple. Yummy stuff, that. His gift to the other kids was lip balm. Hey, when you've a set of kissers like that, chapped lips could be more than average-ly painful!
Just thought I'd mention a couple things that happened during the evening. We moved to this area to be near DH's family. He only has one sister and his mom was living with her. Now, his sister has 6 children and we were able to find a house only one mile down the road from them. My children affectionately call her children, "The Cousins." We spent the last 6 years, here, together. Celebrating holidays and seeing each other nearly daily. The kids were in heaven. Well, The Cousins moved this past school year to Florida. Talk about trauma and heartbreak! So, my kids have been a "bit" blue. I say all this to preface the conversation at the dinner table, Monday night. DH decides that, really, enough is enough and it is high time we all move on. Easier said than done, but still he thought he'd give it a try. So he begins by saying that his DBIL made the decision to move and that we need to accept that and be happy for them. All of a sudden, and out of the blue, DS Paul, who is 10, stands up with his fist in the air, and says, "I can't accept it because I don't understand why they moved, and his decision is ruining my life!" Thump! His fist bangs down, firmly, on the table. We all sit up a bit straighter, blink, and then burst out laughing! Not that what he said was funny, but you have to know Paul. He is ever so reserved. He is the strong silent type. Not much to say, but apparently, a lot going on in that quiet head of his. Poor baby. Well, then DH tries to make things better by saying that, yes, we have all suffered a loss, here, but don't we all still have so many blessings in our lives? We have our health. None of us are worried that one of us is going to drop dead at any moment... eight little sets of eyes all shift down the length of the table... "OK, guys, stop looking at Grandma that way!" Honestly, you're a day over 25 and you've one foot in the grave! Reminded me of circling vultures. And only Bill would have worded it so...directly. Ok, maybe I would have. So now the kids have the assignment of listing the things in their lives that are good and that they are thankful for- and they have to be specific.
Recipe for Chocolate Fondue
- 2 12oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 Cup of whipping cream (milk would do)
Melt these in the microwave, cooking one minute at a time and then stirring. Let cool and add:
- 1 Cup sour cream
Pour into a fondue pot and serve with fresh fruit, cake, shortbread, whatever- anything tastes good with chocolate! If you don't have a fondue pot, just warm it back up in the microwave and serve in a warm bowl. That works fine, too.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I just taught a class on the Stack and Whack method of peicing, Saturday. It is a method taught by Bethany S. Reynolds, in her books The Magic of Stack and Whack and Stack and Whackier. I had six students in the class, which is a full class for me. It was six hours long, and that might explain the barkin' of my doggies- that's a slang term for aching feet, Lucy. We really did have a good time. The top quilt that is set in black is my Xmas quilt and the first Stack and Whack I had ever done. Sarah saw it on Simply Quilts and showed it to me. Way cool, I thought. I named it, "Oh Holy Night," because they kinda reminded me of stars. The original fabric- and all the blocks are from the same peice- was of these very nice kimonos. The two blocks that are sitting by themselves are the ones I made in class to demonstrate how to choose the fabric, how to cut and then sew. This fabric didn't look too interesting on the bolt, but it was a Stack and Whack fabric, so figured I'd give it a go. It's turning out prettier than I thought it would. Yes, there are only two blocks done, because the teacher doesn't get a whole lot of sewing-machine time in. The bright orange and pink blocks are leftovers- the ones I liked the least- from a baby quilt I made for a friend. The tropical print quilt is leftovers from a baby quilt I made for a cousin's son. Seems a bit girly, but then, I set his in royal blue. His daddy is a surfer dude, so it seemed appropriate.
There are several things I like about this quilt peicing method. First, it uses those larger scale fabrics that we rarely get to play with- other than borders and backing. The hunt is always fun when I visit my favorite quilt shops- I grab them whenever I find them, because a good one is a rare find. Second, one slice is all it takes to cut out a whole block. Each block consists of only 6 peices- even a 9-patch has 9 peices! But it still looks more interesting than just 6 peices. It goes together very quickly. Third, you never how each block will look, when it's been stacked and whacked! It keeps the process interesting. All in all, I like the variation in the looks of these.
Monday, December 05, 2005
My Friend Sarah...
This is my friend, Sarah. She is the best friend in the world and if she ever comes into your life, you'll be blessed. You'll have to indulge me, today, as I am feeling sentimental and just a bit weepy. I met Sarah six years ago. Have you seen the movie, White Christmas? Sarah looks and talks just like Rosemary Clooney. Only Sarah actually sings better than Rosemary Clooney! No kidding. And can't we all use a little bit of George Clooney genes in our lives? She is very nurturing and mothering, without being smothering. And she knows everybody. We actually dated the same guy! How weird is that? She had just moved to Indiana from Seattle, Washington and I had just moved here from the Chicagoland area. We had 5-month old daughters who were only one week apart in age. Both our first- her first child and my first daughter. Now, I had 5 sons and so you might think that we wouldn't have a lot in common- and really, I probably thought that, also. Let's face it, with six children and having bought the king of all fixer-upper houses, I was afraid I wouldn't have much to offer someone, in terms of time, energy. But Sarah was irresistable.
I think it was our first winter here when some of us ladies from church decided we would have a quilting day, once a week. Several of them had never made a quilt and a couple of us had made many, so it seemed a good combination. I decided not to make anything and just help out those who needed some extra attention. The first sewing session was at Sarah's house and she was sitting in the dining room wrestling with an irish chain for her daughter, Madeleine. She couldn't get the points to match up- it was her first quilt. Her mom quilts, but does/did most of it by hand, I think. So I take a peak. She was doing a lovely job, but she didn't know about opposing seams. Wow, it was like a light going off and she was outta there! She was so thrilled with the results and just a bit miffed that she hadn't known about that earlier! One of our friends would constantly suggest that you just rip out seams if they weren't perfect, but I am a quilter, not a ripper and I coaxed Sarah into easing things into place. I wonder if Sarah could post a picture of her first quilt? If she'll still talk to me after this! Quilting, as well as a lot of things, is all about knowing the tricks. Yeah, you can do it the hard way, but when you know the tricks, it makes things so much more enjoyable. That's how Sarah started quilting like a maniac- and I'd like to think I had something to do with it 'cause she really is a natural.
A couple years later and many more quilt tops done, we went together and bought a longarm quilting machine. For our birthdays- both in June. She had a huge house- mine is pretty big, too, but by now I had 7 kids and so the rooms were filled. I would come, faithfully, and quilt every Thursday. We'd have lunch together and she'd help me pin quilts on. I'd help her pin quilts on. Some days we'd quilt together. We'd drive an hour to the nearest quilt shop and make a day of it, lugging babies along. Having chicken salad croissants on the porch of the victorian tea house. Can I express how much those times meant to me? I don't think I can.
The following is really for Sarah, and I don't mind you reading, but it gets emotional and I'd hate to drag anyone, unwittingly, through that.
The summer that I was pregnant with our 8th child, we made several trips to those quilt shops and I bought this freakily bright batik to make a baby quilt. Sarah says, "Are you sure? Might keep the baby awake!" It was rainbow colored with jungle animals on it and I loved how bright it was. I made a nifty orange peel quilt from it with some bright yellow. Then the next time I bought citrus colored fossil ferns and the next time it was berry colored fossil ferns. How many quilts would one baby need, but it was like I knew he'd need them... Our baby Abel passed away when I was 5 months pregnant and it was the worst thing ever for me, but Sarah was so steady. That's when you really need a friend. She'd let me talk when I wanted to, but mostly, she just treated me like ME, instead of a sad story. She didn't make demands and she didn't ask questions. She just stayed the same Sarah that I loved. She's a great person and a great friend.
Yes, the blank spots in this quilt are my doing- or lack of doing. Sigh. Sarah, of course, got all of her blocks done. I intended to... I had the best of intentions. You know what that means. (This is a follow-up to Sarah's post where she showed her Batik blocks. The scrappy blocks are all hers. Her mom thought the batik was too feminine, so it is just as well that it didn't go to my nephew, Michael. He just proposed to his sweetheart, so I guess I need to start thinking of a wedding quilt to make.) There are 57 peices in each of those star blocks and I have to ask myself, "What was I thinking?" They are pretty, aren't they? I can usually whip up a few blocks of whatever I am working on in an afternoon. But with this block, I found myself taking about an hour per block. I couldn't figure out why, until I counted peices. 57 is quite a few- even though the block looks very simple. I have all of the other blocks assembled, except for the different colored stars. So, really, it shouldn't take too long, to finish it. Sarah has threatened to sell it off so that the funds raised could help pay for a little retreat for us. I couldn't bear to part with it- our first quilt, done together. I haven't settled on a setting for it, yet. Maybe narrow black sashing with small batik cornerstones- all on point. We'll see. But I'm letting her know now, that it ain't going anywhere. It's mine, MINE, MINE!!!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Somebody is playing in the quilting room...
And it's me, it's me!! Weeee! I am making a wallhanging for DD Eva. She drew me the most amazing picture and I'm attempting to replicate it in fabric. So far, so good. I'll show when I finish. But what a mess! I have projects exploding all over the room and I have decided that is how I like it!Sarah's quilt is coming along nicely- I only spent one hour removing stitches, today. Hey, that's progress. I came to the conclusion that the reason I didn't like the feather meander I started with was because the scale was all wrong. Her pieces are only 1 1/2" wide so I needed to small it down. Now I like. But then, I tried a little something different in the darker areas- thought Bonnie had a good idea there, but what I tried was a little too casual... so picked it all out and will try again, tomorrow. Once I decide what I am doing, really, it's all fun. I am still fiddling with the jacket fabric that I am making. And then there is the quilt I am still trying to finish for my cousin. I have all the blocks together and all the rows together- just need to join the rows. How hard is that? Yet, I'm not inspired to do that just now. I am wanting to spell a word via Tonya. Rejoice. Thought that would be nice for the season. And then, Jenny had a piece of artwork posted a few weeks ago and I wanted to try to make a quilt like it. It was huge blocks of color, different sizes, set very randomly. It was in autumn colors. Do you remember that one? Well, it was cool. Then the feasts began, today.
A few years ago, we started a new tradition where each child prepares a feast for the family. I was aiming for the season to mean more than just Xmas day and presents. Because the really valuable things in life aren't things. What matters are people and experiences. They can't remember what they got for Xmas last year, but they will always remember the wonderful times we had, together. I borrowed the idea, loosely, from Esther and her feasts. At the end of November we draw names for the order that they will go in and then for the month of December, we have about two feasts a week. That's eight kids. The menus are secret. No one else is allowed into the kitchen while the preparations are being made. They pick out simple gifts to give their "guests" and decorate the table- or the room. It sounds like a lot of work, but we try to keep it simple and according to each kids' skills. When all things are ready, they call for their guests to come into the feast. The kids ooo and ahh over the pretty table and all the good smells. Bill reads a short scripture and talks with the kids about it. Then the "host" serves everybody. We have the best time doing this. Tonight was Abraham's feast. He's two. Grandmother always asks what they fixed. He had chicken nuggets, french fries. He made Jello jigglers and sliced some cheese to go with crackers and grapes. I fixed a Texas sheet cake for dessert. He gave the kids each their own Xmas pencil and eraser. You should have seen the look on his face when he invited them in. He was so proud of himself. When it came time to serve the other kids, he'd give them a grape and then, take one for himself. He was stuffed before he ever got his chicken! I helped him cut out the pictures from some of last years Xmas cards to use as place markers. We look forward to this all year. The older kids plan what they are going to do, months in advance. It is amazing what some of them come up with. Bill is always trying to top the kids- he gets Xmas Eve and I get Xmas day. Last year, he strung huge pine boughs from the kitchen ceiling- I have beams, so he could do that. Then he strung little lights in them. He covered all the counters with boughs so that it felt like you were having a midnight picnic in the woods on a starry night. I can't imagine how he'll top that one.
The pitter-patter of soles, the little feet of tadpoles...
Movin' right along, footloose and fancy- free. Darcie mentioned that she likes my floors. Well, funny thing about those floors... My DH is always looking for a bargain. Now, he didn't used to be that way, but he's pretty smart and figured, hey, he'd rather save a buck than throw it away. So he haunts all those bargain papers where people are selling just about everything. A regular hunter/gatherer. (We just purchased our second Ebay vehicle. A 1999, 15 passenger Dodge van for $2800. Runs beautiful.) But back to the floors. Bill decided to bargain shop for building supplies, because they were so expensive due the the "rebuilding of Iraq." He found these cool boards and bought them for the subfloor to our addition. (The addition consists of my quilting room, a spare bedroom and handicap bathroom, and a laundryroom.) When we were finishing up the quilting room, which of course, had to be done first as the 5'x15' quilting machine was in my bedroom and he was getting tired of having to go around through the bathroom to get to his side of the bed... I tried to decide what kind of flooring I wanted and could afford. There are two layers of those boards down on the floor, so they were sufficient but Bill wasn't so sure they were good enough for a "finished" floor. Well, I already had a couple gallons of polyurethane and figured it couldn't hurt to try. They turned out so much better than I could have imagined. We put 5 coats on it and it cleans up very nice. I like the primitive, rustic look, so they suit me fine. I always get compliments on them and to think Bill just bought them for a dollar a board! (Oh, and the quilt a friend made and I quilted.)
This is the inside of my shelves in my quilting room. When DH and I were putting the varnish on my quillting room floor, we noticed that someone had wandered into the room while the varnish was still tacky. It wasn't a big deal as we still had 2 more coats to apply, but it gave me the idea to preserve their little foot prints in the closet. The older boys felt a little foolish putting paint on their feet, and the baby cried, but everybody in between had a good time. Notice I have a flat footer in the mix. If you're having trouble counting, ask Sarah how many there are- I'd hate to deprive her of the tickle she gets from telling folks. She rolls her eyes as if to say, "My friend is insane." But she loves me anyway!