Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sugar Fast

It looks like Fall here in Mid-Michigan, the trees are seriously starting to turn colors and the fields are dotted with orange pumpkins.  But it is hotter than blazes, with several days in a row now at and above 90 degrees.   We are not hot weather people here, and don't appreciate it much.   Even the specter of cold and ice just around the corner aren't enough to make me enjoy this much heat. It makes me think with real concern of all the people who are suffering from the recent storms and floods and fires, who don't have electricity right now, or water or basic sanitation, no matter the temperatures.  And since I am a follower of Science and a believer in climate change, I fear for all of us and believe these problems will only get worse.

But on my local front, we are fortunate, indeed.   My biggest recent problem is that I am going to a wedding, my Honey's sister is getting married, and I STILL have nothing to wear.    On an unrelated/related note, my Sweetie is having a cardiac ablation in November, and his physician asked him -- and me, as a support person -- to give up processed sugar until after the surgery.   So I have not had any intentional processed sugar since early August.   I am sure some sugar has slipped in since we do eat out from time to time, but even there we are avoiding sauces and dressings and of course, no desserts.   At home I am carefully reading labels and paring my diet to the raw essentials.   (Dry red wine, you will be happy to learn, does not contain processed sugar.  My fella doesn't drink and so normally I go months without it, but it is likely to become my greatest solace as this sugar deprivation goes on.)  

You would think I would be wasting away but alas, no.   I've lost only a few pounds, and I SWEAR, as I try on dress after dress after dress in anticipation of the coming wedding, that I am actually getting fatter.  I don't do sleeveless, I have no waistline, the litany of defects seems overwhelming lately.   So, despite my understanding that this is not a big deal and that I am fortunate indeed, these are grim times in this old gal's household.  I've bought eight, yes, 8, dresses so far, and hate them all.  I add to them every few days and try them all on every freaking morning.   I have about a week left, and more shopping time (I hate shopping) to put in before I choose the least hateful one.  And then begins the equally dreadful chore of returning the rest.    Oh how I suffer.

Other than that, thank goodness, things are just ducky.   I am sewing and volunteering and enjoying my Grands.   Truly, except when I have to dress up, life is good.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Happy Traveler

My guy friend and I took a most amazing trip into the Path of Totality last week.   Even though the drive home took an extra FOUR HOURS because of construction traffic, the eclipse was worth the trip.  But as an added bonus we got to spend several days with his youngest sister and her fiancĂ© at their home in the Path.   We spent the first couple of days visiting the Illinois State Fair, the first State Fair I'd been to in years.   I carefully examined the quilts and bags, wondering if I will ever dare to enter.   I ate a slice of deep fried cheesecake.  And I enjoyed seeing the critters, including the most beautiful steer I've ever seen, really too pretty to eat, although I suppose he will also be a lovely set of steaks.     The horses were gorgeous and I learned several things about ancient methods of 'dressing' them for battle.   The sheep and llamas were just plain fun, although it was way too hot to really appreciate their wool.  But it was a lot of fun talking to exhibitors and learned about their various areas of expertise.  There is so much to learn in this world!
The total phase of the eclipse, of course, was absolutely amazing.   Absolutely.  Amazing.  And it was a great trip.   We ate way too well, I even made my famous pancakes, with local blackberries and blueberries.  We laughed a lot, and got to chat about his sister's upcoming wedding.   The celebration will be outside by their beautiful pond, and she is planning on fall flowers and patchwork squares on every table.  She ended up adding a few tables and was feeling anxious about having to create several more mini quilts, so I offered to help.   I never got around to finishing the Solstice Blocks this year, and this sounded like an excellent reason to get back to those, so I have been happily sewing since we got back.   It's funny how much easier it is for me to find the time to sew for someone else than it is to sew for myself,  but I am enjoying this project and it will be fun to see the finished squares when we drive back down for the wedding in October.   Now I just need to find something to wear!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Northern Michigan and Home Again

I am just back from a week in Northern Michigan with my family, 3 siblings, all but one of the nieces/nephews and the whole passel of grands.   It was the usual mixed bag that family can be for me, a fair share of hurt feelings and annoyance, but overall a good trip.  There were fake mustaches and temporary tattoos.  We picked blueberries, made jewelry (and messes), roasted s'mores and saw meteors, watched the kids catch tiny fish, and ate boatloads of fudge from Mackinaw Island.    I was lonely when I got back to my empty house. 

Home again, I am at loose ends, no longer in the usual rhythm of my life. The vacation laundry is done and the bills are paid, but nothing else is falling into place yet.   I sewed one of the little purses today that I've made dozens of, only to make mistake after mistake, to the point that the purse was ruined.   I will tear it out to save the zipper, but nothing else can be salvaged, something that has never happened to me before.  But the tear-out will have to wait -- a distant friend has just called from a hospital a hundred miles away to say he is stranded after his Friday back surgery and asking if we could drive down and pick him up because he is being discharged, and so my afternoon will go the way my morning did, out of whack.

But tomorrow is another, and hopefully a better, day.  And the weather here in Mid-Michigan is glorious again today.  I have nothing to complain about.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vacationing in Manistee

I am mid-way through a week's vacation with (a small portion of) my fella's family in Manistee, Michigan.  There are 9 of us sharing a house and we are having a lot of fun.  Manistee is on Lake Michigan, one of the loveliest of the great lakes with its sandy beaches, temperate water and rolling waves.    We found an area with lots of multicolored pebbles and collected a bag of colorful little stones and beach glass that our 'artists' plan to turn into jewelry.  There have been the usual unwelcome sunburns and mosquitoes, but otherwise the week so far has been lovely.

Our "salmon slaughter" competition was yesterday and to everyone's surprise, I 'won.'   It took a village to land my fish, with everyone on the boat pitching in to help me hold the rod and turn the reel, but that didn't stop me from accepting the top award for the day.   The first mate helped me hold the fish for the photo since my arms had turned into spaghetti by the time the fish was landed.
Each of us caught at least one fish so the trip was a definite success.
My award consisted of a medal, a salmon-colored mug created by one of the 'kids' in our group, and bragging rights for the next year.  

One of the many cooks in the group prepared the fish that night and it was, to my surprise, absolutely delicious.   He made a marinade of brown sugar, lemon juice and soy sauce and grilled it with apple wood chips.   I am not a fish eater, but this was worth changing my mind for!

Today will be more of a take-it-easy day, at least for me.   All this relaxing just wears me out!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


We have had record flooding in my area but, for no good reason, I have been spared.  Counties and homes all around me have been declared disaster areas, but not a drop of water in my basement.   Mother Nature is capricious.
Well, the part about the dry basement is not entirely true -- there WAS some water in my basement, but it came from my broken water heater and not from the storms.   My fella hooked up a new one and things are dry and warm again.  After several days without hot water, I was amazed to be reminded what a luxury it is.   We are so fortunate in so many ways that we, or at least I,  take for granted.   Having a Handy Guy is also a luxury that fills me with gratitude, by the way.  :)

Today I took my Grands to visit a Lego art exhibit at a local art museum -- what fun!   We saw dozens of 'reproductions' of paintings and sculptures, as well as a lot of original art, all made entirely of regular ol' Lego bricks.    It was quite amazing, and always fun to spend time with the Littles.

When I got home, I discovered in the mail that arrived today that I've been ordering fabric . . . again.   Oh, such pretties, five different kinds.   I really need to learn to sew well enough for these not to be a waste.  I should also probably stop buying things just because they are pretty, without any real project in mind!

My guy is also, apparently, an impulse shopper.   He decided that it would be fun for me to have a "starter" embroidery machine, although I had never used or even considered one.   Next thing I knew, I was embroidering.   And he was right, it IS fun.     The last thing I needed was another list of projects to make, but what the heck.     My mother used to say that busy hands are happy hands . . . she was wrong about almost everything else, but I'm hoping she was right about this!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mid-Way Through the Mid-Way Month

Little bits of sewing are still going on, but I have slowed down since taking my sewing machine back upstairs where it "belongs."   When I had it downstairs on the dining table I sewed every spare minute, but my house always felt a bit cluttered, which I do not like.   I am trying to rethink the best way and place for it going forward.   Meanwhile, I've sewed more little bags for no good reason,
and I learned from Barbara at Cat Patches about a "I Found a Quilted Heart" project so I made up a few of those, too.  A great scrap buster and a fun idea, sort of like geo-caching.   The idea is to hide the hearts in public areas with a tag that invites people to post their "find" on Facebook or a website.     I think this will be fun, and I am all for anything that gives people a smile or a reason to feel hopeful about their fellow humans.

It has been beautiful here this month, and I am so glad I took the few minutes to plant flowers in my window boxes this year.  I love seeing them.   It is just too dang bad that I was too lazy to actually plant a garden, too.
My backyard has become a visiting place for a whole bunch, a murder, I believe it's called, of crows.   They start calling out to each other as soon as I go out to put fresh water in the bird bath and the crowds begin to assemble.   They quiet down when I am done, before I go back inside, and then they bathe, wash their food, and generally enjoy themselves before leaving again, my birdbath dirty again with bird debris and leftover food.  It's a nice diversion for all of us.

My sweetie surprised me a little bit ago with a no-reason Apple watch.   I was completely taken by surprise -- I would never have bought one for myself, but we are Apple folk, for sure.   The other day, as we sat side by side, we realized that, at that moment, we had 7 different devices in action between us.   The watch has been more useful than I would have expected, and receiving and answering texts is one of my favorite things about it, although being able to 'share' a heartbeat with my honey has been fun, too.   But it also  has activity circles that, in a perfect world, would close each day after beginning each morning as a small dot.   I am having the darndest time trying to figure out how to make my circles close, doing more and more each day with no success or movement of one of the circles.   My goal this weekend is to figure out what I am doing wrong so that I can have the satisfaction of a completely circular display.   
We spent last weekend on a golf course, although neither of us plays golf, because one of the families we worked with a couple years ago in search and rescue puts on an annual golf benefit for us and the other groups who helped them look for their dad.  Although their story did not have a happy ending, they are determined to bring good out of it, and they have become great champions of search and rescue as well as mental health and suicide prevention groups.  It has really touched me the way that they have channeled their pain, anger and loss into something positive for the community.   These days I appreciate reminders of the goodness of people more than I ever have before.

'Saw Wonder Woman last week -- fun! -- and going to see the Pirates movie tonight.   My guy likes movies, I like popcorn.   A match made in heaven.  :)   Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June Already!

Another year is flying by.   It has been a gorgeous week here in Mid-Michigan.  If it weren't for the needs of nature (and especially of bug control by deep freeze) I would like to have this weather all year, low 70's with a sweet breeze.     It's bunny season in my neighborhood -- I saw 14 of them on my walk last night!
Things are generally quiet in my life, just the way I like it.   A couple of weeks ago my fella and I went to the annual Ham Radio convention in (Xenia) Ohio, "Hamvention," a rare road trip, and of course we had a good time there.  
On the way home we stopped at Tony Packo's in Toledo, a restaurant my brother recommended that was apparently made famous by Klinger on the television show "Mash."    We got lost on the way there because of a road closure, and I was really regretting suggesting this little side adventure, but when we found it, I was so glad we had gone! We tried everything.   Yes, really, pretty much everything.   It's a small menu.  They serve Chicken Paprikas (pronounced with a sort of "sh" sound on the end) that tastes almost exactly the way my family recipe tastes!  With little dumplings that were way lighter and tastier than Grandma ever made.    I was amazed, it is a dish we have never found in any restaurant anywhere, and that we have never heard pronounced that way, either, outside of our family.   I guess we don't hang with the Hungarian crowd -- my grandfather always identified himself as "Czech" and it wasn't until after he died, and I came into possession of his birth certificate and Bible, that I learned he was, in fact, Hungarian through and through.   They also served a hot chili dog that we enjoyed, and the head-exploding garlic dills we had when I was a child, and even make those little sour cream cucumber slices that my grandma used to like.   My guy preferred the hot dogs, chili and soups to the Paprikas and dill pickles, but I could have eaten those dumplings and gravy all week.   Both of us wolfed down the warm cherry strudel with ice cream, though.  Anyway, much as I love Hamvention, it is Tony Packo's that I am looking forward to on our next trip down!  
My guy is out of town this week to settle a family estate, and so I am keeping busy doing the (many) things I should have done long ago but didn't because I spend so much of my time with him (no complaints!)  I planted my pots and window boxes and weeded the garden, more or less.   I painted the front porch and created a folder that I need for Search and Rescue interviews.  I dusted and vacuumed and organized a closet.   I wasted more time than I should have, but at least I got a few things done!
My front porch has been an ongoing frustration.   I paint it every year, and every year it fades to mostly bare wood.  The past couple years I've used the paints and stains recommended by my local paint store;  this year I read reviews and tried something new.  Fingers crossed!  On the plus side, I discovered a "paint mitt" at a local dollar store, a big fuzzy mitten with a waterproof lining, and used it to paint the thin rails that surround the porch.   What a great invention!   I wore it out on the rough wood spots, and loved it so much I went back to buy more, but they were gone.  Next time, I guess, I'll have to make my own, but it will be worth it.    Maybe not life changing, exactly, but a great painting tool!  (Don't mind the dirt that's already been splashed up by the rain on the bottom rails!)
I'm trying to take a little time each day to just sit on the patio to enjoy the lilacs (finally in bloom!) and the breeze, too.  It's a nice place to have coffee in the morning if it's warm enough, or iced tea in the late afternoon.  
Although I mostly just sit and watch the bunnies, birds and squirrels, I have embroidered a little more on poor  Abigail, who is likely to be mostly neglected until it rains or snows.   She puts on a brave face.  I learned about Abigail and her equally lovely Bag Lady friends from Barb at Three Cats Ranch.
I'm still sewing, although not as fast as I should be, given the size of my stash.   Little bags and key fobs, and another top that turned out well enough to wear (although my necklines are still wonky), with many more in the works!

I think that, like anything, it's just a matter of practice, so I plan to keep at it.  Hopefully I'll have lots more to share in the weeks to come.  All I need to do is overcome my lazy nature!  

Last night I ate my supper of roasted veggies, Michigan asparagus!, with a glass of red wine, looking out at the flowers on my patio, and thought about how lucky I am.  Life is good.  I hope it is good for you, too.  And that's not just the wine talking.