Saturday, August 31, 2013

Project Runway

I am not going to blog every week about Project Runway -- because, well -- I'm just not that into it.

Don't get me wrong -- I watch it every single week.  But, mostly -- I tape it and watch it on Friday night -- when there is NOTHING ELSE ON TELEVISION.

This time around, the quality of the designers is SO disappointing. I mean, really? How many applications do they receive and why did they pick THESE people? And what is the actual criteria? Because so far, every week feels like a "No-Doze"challenge. The garments coming down that runway are ill-conceived, poorly made and completely forgettable.

The challenges have been equally as lame. Too many disconnected paid sponsor placements which make no sense. The yogurt challenge, mixed up with an amusement park? Then a water challenge and a completely random glamping episode?? Anybody remember a garment?

I rest my case...

AND THE JUDGES!! What is their job, anyway? Because here's how it works now....

Heidi (the producer) speaks first -- and then everybody else chimes in with their complete agreement. If she says "it feels dated"...every other judge on the panel starts using words like "not current, old-school"...etc... IT IS SO BORING. I wonder what their comments would be if they were in a sound-proof booth. Because it is unbelievable that any group of people could be so harmonious...


But, now that I'm thinking about the power of the "Heidi Factor" -- this woman is WASTING HER TALENTS. Really. TO hell with America's Got Talent and Project Runway. I SAY HEIDI KLUM FOR PRESIDENT!!



No kidding. If Heidi was the President -- she could bring Congress and the White House together and the world would be a better place!!

Yes, I know -- she's German...so here is a bit of danger involved. And, of course -- we'd have to change the constitution first. But I'm ready to take the risk...

HEIDI KLUM FOR PRESIDENT..!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lilly's new pink dress

Of course -- sewing for Lillian has become one of the joys of my life. It combines so many things I love to do. Thrift shopping...laundry...sewing...designing...seeing Lilly smile...I love everything about it. And I love that moment when she comes to my house -- and she runs into her room to see what new Grandma Rita creation is waiting for her.

She puts things together in odd ways that please her..


And she LOVES to accessorize...


I didn't even have to make this. But for 49 cents, I could hardly pass it up!!


There is no end to the Grandma Ritaluck....


This dress started out as a very expensive woman's top...and I added the white t-shirt, cut down the sleeves, etc....
But, of course, NOT EVERYTHING is a hit....

And, I've gotta say -- although I am disappointed when she doesn't like something...I am delighted that she hasn't learned how to be fake. Of course, that will come. We ALL learn how to pretend we like something when we really don't...but honesty is still possible at FOUR...
video


So I'm going to enjoy these moments...even though they are not exactly what I was hoping for...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Granny Smartphone

To celebrate her first week of school (Pre-K is now mandatory in Iowa) -- Lillian and I went to Clinton, Iowa for Sunday breakfast. It was a very busy after-church crowd -- and every table was FULL at our favorite little joint.

We waited patiently. The table right next to us had four well-dressed old people. (75+ is my guess)

At one point, woman #1 asked woman #2 to "google " something. Woman #2 apparently has a new I-phone...

Killing time while they waited for their food -- the three tablemates looked at the screen of her I-phone and laughed. Then she showed them some pictures from her Gallery.

I remember thinking how great it was that the old woman was tech savvy. GOOD FOR HER. I consider myself a late-adapter...and embracing new technology can be a challenge.

Then it happened. Just as the waitress delivered their food -- the smartphone rang.

Woman #2 answered her phone. She is actually sitting less than 3 feet from me -- so I can hear every word -- along with her tablemates. All other conversation at that table stopped instantly.  The three other old people were eating in silence -- as Granny Smartphone prattled on, oblivious to their discomfort...

SHE TALKED FOR SEVENTEEN MINUTES.  Are you kidding me?? The caller was her granddaughter (she announced that when the phone rang).  The topics they covered (in no particular order) -- included the weather, the garden, a shopping trip to K-Mart, a family wedding and why nobody wants Uncle Jerry to come to Thanksgiving dinner...

OH MY GOD.  HOW RUDE IS THIS??   HANG UP THE DAMNED PHONE. LIVE IN THE MOMENT.  LOOK AROUND...YOU ARE PISSING OFF EVERYBODY YOU CAME WITH... WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE??

Granny clicked off the call with a big smile on her face -- but her three friends were up and out of their seats. They were fuming....and clearly -- what started out as a cordial, chatty meal had been ruined. Granny asked the waitress to put her skillet breakfast (now cold congealed eggs...ugh) in a box.

I think it is RUDE to answer my cellphone when I am actually WITH A REAL PERSON.  It makes the person you're with feel less-than.  I know because it's happened to me a thousand times.  At this point in my life --  I leave it in my car when I'm meeting friends.

I am going to write the TEN COMMANDMENTS of cellphone etiquette for old people...


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saturday with Bert AND Lillian


This will be the first Saturday Lillian goes kicking around with me and Bert. We met Bert at the Village Inn -- already having breakfast with her two granddaughters.


Lillian was DELIGHTED to be included in our big-girl (make that Old-lady) day...

Any day that begins with a Micky Mouse pancake is bound to be a winner...

One of our stops was the Goodwill Store. Lilly knows how this works...she picks up many things, and asks me "is this a possibility, Grandma?" Then -- at the end our our shopping trip -- she lays them all out somewhere and PICKS ONE...

From everything laying on the top of the dresser -- the winner on this day was the Dora mermaid. Lillian was due for a new tub toy -- and it was 38 cents.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Simon Haskins new website...

Last year, at the Babylock convention -- I saw my friend Simon Haskins. I interviewed him for my job with Sew Expo -- and he was excited to be coming to Puyallup. Where -- in 2012 -- he hooked up with his two biggest fans --   MY SISTER DEB and her sister Barb...

We will miss you in St. Louis, Simon!! But thanks for keeping us posted on your Facebook page...


Sunshine4All -- Simon's website for his Leukaemia awareness quilt block project -- just went live.
From the website: My name is Simon Haskins and I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in June of 2013. This is a very rare blood cancer that has a very long and difficult road to recovery. As part of my journey I would like to try and do something to raise awareness about blood cancers and money for The Leukaemia Foundation to support those with this horrible disease and hopefully we will one day have a cure.

My idea is for the Jenny Haskins, quilting and machine embroidery communities to help me with this project by making an 8″ x 8″ quilt block that will be used to make quilts which will then be auctioned to raise money or given to a child who has ALL. The response that I have had so far has been overwhelming. So many people have jumped on board to make a quilt block, most people have made more than one block with some people making 20 blocks or more!

The awareness colour for Leukaemia is orange. So with that in mind I would like quilt blocks made in orange, with a splash of pink and yellow for good measure.

Anyone can be involved with Sunshine 4 ALL. I will be undergoing treatment for the next two to three years so we will have heaps of time to get this done and I am hoping that by end of my treatment we all will be able to celebrate my cure with an exhibition of all the finished quilts and raise money to find a cure for ALL.

Make sure you read the Guidelines page to get all the logistical information you need to make a block or two and participate in this amazing cause – Sunshine 4 ALL

I would like to express a HUGE MASSIVE thank you from me to everyone and anyone who becomes involved in Sunshine 4 ALL. Make sure you mention this to your local sewing store or guild and we can really start to make a difference.

Pictures of finished blocks and quilts will be posted to the Gallery. So make sure you visit regularly to see what other people have made and maybe it will inspire you to make another block and contribute more to Sunshine 4 ALL.

Sunshine 4 ALL has been an incredible avenue of support to me as I battle ALL and undergo treatment and chemotherapy. On my very worst days Sunshine 4 ALL has helped me to smile and gain strength to continue and move forward towards the goal of being cured from this cancer and hopefully one day gaining the precious gift of a normal life.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lillian's New Chair


Athough I am still in St. Louis -- making an exciting announcement about Schmetz Needles at the Babylock convention -- I got very ambitious after my blogging break -- so there will be new posts coming up EVEN WHEN I'M TRAVELING...

***************

Lillian spent TWO NIGHTS with us recently. I had several activities lined up. One thing was this ugly chair from the Goodwill store...
It cost $5.38. And it weighs about 100 pounds. IT IS HEAVY...

We had a little child's rocking chair in the living room -- but now it is too small for Lillian. And we enjoy watching movies together.  Lilly needs a chair of her own.  Magically -- as soon as I decided that -- I found this at the Goodwill Store. RITALUCK is a powerful thing...(you know I always use it for good -- never for evil)...
The FIRST order of business is to take it outside, and sand it all down...


The first coat was an old can of white ceiling paint.  Good job, Lilly!


Lilly easily found some PAINT CLOTHES on t-shirt mountain...


It was a beautiful day.  And cool enough in the shade...We gave it two coats of white paint...


Later on that day, John fell asleep in his chair and Lilly tried to cover him with a blanket...so thoughtful....

It was a REALLY BUSY WEEKEND!! The chair isn't finished yet -- mostly because we are still arguing about the upholstery. Of course, she wants Barbie or the Disney Princesses. Ugh....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friend Catch-up

Today I am on another ROAD TRIP.  Yippee!!  I will be covering for my friend Rhonda Pierce in the Schmetz needles booth at Babylock Tech convention in St. Louis, Mo.  I'll get to spend some time with my dear friend, Mary Mulari -- and -- with friendship as my theme -- here's my report on LAST week's catch-up...

*************
Sue has been one of my best friends since we were in the 7th Grade. We never lost touch -- through school, marriage, living in different parts of the country, raising children. We have always enjoyed each others company. A LOT. But, for the last year -- Sue has been doing full time grandmothering and I've been working long hours and traveling. We were OVERDUE for a nice long catch-up visit.

Because it's her birthday week -- I wanted a SPECIAL PLACE for our breakfast -- so I picked the  The Indigo Cafe in Davenport, Iowa.  Here's what we ordered off their very interesting menu:

Italian Frittata 3 egg open faced omelette with mushrooms, spinach, asiago cheese artichokes and topped with a roasted red pepper pesto
I meant to take a picture -- but it was SO DELICIOUS -- darn it...


The little cheesy potato casserole as finger-licking good, too!!


I asked the waiter to take our picture -- right before he delivered DESSERT...


Oh, yeah -- this is a REALLY GOOD START for our special day!



After breakfast, we kicked around some antique shops and went to an Estate Sale at the Col Ballroom in Davenport, Iowa. Walking through those doors, we remembered the last time we were there -- for a dance in 1967!!

We walked and shopped, ate lunch -- we laughed, we cried, we shared the happy and the sad. We both have a lot going on right now -- and the great thing is that we completely, 100% "get" each other.  She knows me and I know her.  After four kids, seven grandchildren and 80+ years of marriage between us -- on this day, for a brief moment -- we both felt like we were 17 years old.

I am telling you -- CALL YOUR OLDEST, BEST FRIEND AND HAVE LUNCH WITH HER!! It is like a wonderful gift you give to yourself...

************

P.S.  You will not believe the Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania treasure I found at an estate sale!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Clothesline Invention

When I wrote about John hanging my thrift-store shoe bags -- I told you he fixed TWO things. This is a about his SECOND project. It was all about my clotheslines. They are very special to me. My Dad used to go up into the woods and find just the right young hedge tree -- it had to have the perfect "Y" branch. Then he would cut it and trim it, and turn it into a clothespost.

Dad put these in the ground the summer we moved into the house. 1981. Of course, over the years, John had to string new line...and it was time to do that again. The problem is that when I hang heavy sheets on the line -- the line droops so much, the sheets almost hit the ground...My Mom used to have some tall clothespoles to prop up the wet clothes -- but John came up with this invention...
video

At my house -- this is what love looks like...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Three Sheets

Of ALL THE TREASURE I have purchased over the years -- nothing will ever beat My Three Sheets.

Here's how it happened.

It was a typical Saturday -- and Bert and I had our catch-up breakfast, then we hit a local estate sale. It was the third day -- so everything was 50% off.  But, of course, by that time -- it's very slim pickins...Remember -- at this point in our lives -- our real hope is that we DO NOT BUY ANYTHING...lol...
Sometimes, we run into Frank or Mike from the American Pickers!

We NEVER know what we're going to find. On this Saturday, there was an estate sale at a 100+ year old mansion in Davenport, Iowa. The kitchen was tiny -- more of a hallway, really. Stacked in a windowsill was a huge pile of discolored damask tablecloths. The hand-written sign scotch-taped to the wall said $2 each. (remember -- it is half-price day). I noticed the embroidery and I thought there was a good chance these were SHEETS, not tablecloths. But it wasn't possible to open them up...the room was small and there were too many people. THEN I REMEMBERED THEY WERE ONLY ONE DOLLAR...so I bought all three of them.

At that point, I really had no idea what I purchased.  But the minute I got home, I opened them up and they took my breath away.  THEY ARE EXQUISITE antique embroidered sheets that measured 7' x 9'. HOLY COW.  Two linen and one a fine long-staple cotton.  One flat sheet this size (French embroidered linen) sells at ABC Rugs in New York City for $2200.   I found a similar sheet on ebay (with two mends) that sold for $648.

My three sheets are PERFECT.   Most likely, never used.  I put them in warm water to soak overnight. The next day, I washed them and hung them on the line. They went from dull tan to bright white...GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS...

Seriously -- I take the WORST pictures...

I tried to capture the beauty of the embroidery...but white on white is way beyond my capability....



The embroidery is very different on each sheet...

And these sheets were obviously made BEFORE there were standard mattress sizes. They are HUGE...





I took them to breakfast club for "sew and tell" -- and we ended up at Aunt Adda's house. Sandy is making the bed, Linda is complaining about my camera.  I am ignoring her...
The "foldback" on these sheets is 24"....


with a purple towel underneath -- you can see the drawn thread work...

Bert told me I should sell them. I told her she was crazy. I have NEVER, IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, enjoyed anything I've purchased more than I've enjoyed these three sheets. Every Monday, I hang one of them out on the line...and getting into bed with a freshly laundered, line-dried vintage embroidered linen sheet....well -- it is HAPPINESS people...

Today is John's birthday -- and he understands that clean, fresh beautiful line-dried sheets is one of the MANY WAYS I show love for him.  (granted -- it's not his favorite thing I do...)

I'm just sayin' -- life just doesn't get any better than this....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up....

My sister Deena helps run the Vacation Bible School at her church in McCausland, Iowa.

Lillian LOVES going to school, or church, or swimming, or to the park -- really ANY PLACE that has other children.


There were about 15 kids attending the VBS at Deena's church. It was from 5:30 - 8:15 every evening. And when Lilly got in the car, she'd tell me ''THAT WAS GREAT!"

You can clearly see her excitement in this picture.....

She really did love Vacation Bible School. On the last night, Ross and I went to their little program. He took some great pictures of Lillian -- and here he is, enjoying an Uncle moment with Warren...

You just NEVER know how your babies are going to grow up, people.

When Ross was four years old -- he loved VBS, too.  AND he went to CCD every Sunday morning.  He was baptized, made his first Holy Communion and was confirmed.  Now -- he tells me he is two YouTube videos away from becoming an atheist.

Gheesh....I hate it when they get a mind of their own...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

5 Minute Meal

Although I will NEVER be the great cook my friend Pat is -- I pride myself on having an ability to put tasty hot food on the table REALLY FAST. This skill was developed when Ross and Elliott were growing up. I am a big fan of Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals. She is THE MASTER.  But -- who are we kidding -- sometimes YOU JUST DON'T HAVE 30 minutes!! Where we live -- it takes 30 minutes to drive to a "fast food" restaurant. So before or after a baseball practice it was just easier AND QUICKER to cook the food myself.

Last Saturday night, Lillian and I came home from a play.  It was after 9:00 (don't tell her Mom -- but I forgot to feed her supper).  We were both starving.  Time for one of my classics... a cross between a Fritatta and Spaghetti Carbonara...

You'll need eggs and a package of Ramen noodles. (which have already been cooked -- then dehydrated)

Instead of 2 cups of water -- start with one cup. Boil the water, add the flavor packet and break up the noodles. Cover with a lid until the noodles are soft. This happens very fast.

At that point -- break three or four eggs into the hot noodles. Stir until the eggs are scrambled...then take off the heat.

It's pretty darn good right now -- but if you really want to amp up the delicious -- add some Parmesan cheese, maybe some chopped green onions, leftover ham, salami or crispy bacon.

There you have it. You just can't go wrong with eggs, people....


Monday, August 19, 2013

Panzanella salad


Keeping with my theme of FRIENDS -- Pat Leslie is easily the best cook of all my foodie friends. She has been recovering all summer from a broken leg -- so I was surprised to learn that she was hosting her dinner club -- (a dozen of her best friends!) -- for an Italian Dinner.

Here is her AMBITIOUS menu:

~ ~ ~ Pat’s Italian Dinner: August 2013 ~ ~ ~

  • Antipasto Relish Tray
  • Bruschetta
  • Olive Tapenade
  • Steamed Mussels
  • Herbed Bread
  • Cannelloni
  • Panzanilla Salad
  • Summer Squash Gratin
  • Chocolate Sin Pots
  • Hazelnut Biscotti
  • Lemonade
  • Wine
  • Coffee

Just READING about all that delicious Italian food made me hungry. And believe me -- Pat will  make everything from scratch. She plans great menus, writes excellent directions -- and when she sends me a recipe, it TURNS OUT PERFECTLY.

The day this menu arrived (with recipes for every dish)-- I had a table FULL OF DELICIOUS RIPE TOMATOES. Perfect....

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old crusty bread with crusts (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes
1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into small pieces
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. (Do not refrigerate. Texture of tomatoes will be destroyed.) Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

My bread wasn't exactly stale -- so I decided to toast it under the broiler for a bit...

I left out the cucumbers (cuz I don't like 'em)....

WOW...THIS WAS SO DELICIOUS...

Thanks again, Pat. FOR EVERYTHING!! YOU ROCK...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friends

Without my Sew Expo job -- my life is my own. It is an amazing thing. I can do whatever I want...

My women friends have always been important to me but I've been so busy the last coupla years, I wasn't as good a friend as I could have been.  So my mission this summer was to check the pulse of my friendships.   HEY -- people change. They move on. I get that. The hard part is knowing when you should push the NEXT button...

AND -- IT HAS BEEN SUCH A TREAT.  What a joy it has been to plan a catch-up visit once a week with a friend...old or new...

On this stunning summer day -- my friend-catch-up involved a ROAD TRIP!! BONUS...!! I have a wonderful book on tape (and a back-up). I took this picture of John's Hibiscus plant as I was leaving early that morning...


I left Princeton, Iowa -- drove across the Mississippi River -- two hours East on I-80, surrounded by Illinois cornfields...


Yes, that's a necklace hanging from my mirror...I LOVE IT...

My friend Becky was driving WEST from Chicago for two hours -- and we will hook up in DeKalb, Illinois. She told me to meet her in a parking lot of the Schnuck's grocery store -- but GUESS WHAT STORE IS RIGHT NEXT DOOR?? Yippee...I was 20 minutes early. (Yes, there is a God and I'm pretty sure she is a Goodwill shopper.)


Last year, Becky fought her way through a double bout of cancer....and NOW SHE IS DRIVING A CONVERTIBLE...

Neither one of us knew much about DeKalb -- but it didn't take long to find this beautiful park! It was a stunning summer day...all we wanted was a shade tree, a little breeze and some time together...

Becky is THAT GIRL. A lifetime friend...who really knows me and is interested in my life. And vice-versa. We were 18 years old when we met -- and no matter how long we are apart -- the minute we get into the same room -- we pick right up where we left off. She always makes me feel like I amEXACTLY WHAT SHE WAS WISHING FOR that day. She is a wonderful friend -- well-intentioned and kind....and so damned funny!!

If it's true that laughter is nature's best anti-depressant -- we are both good for a coupla months...

We had SO MUCH TO CATCH UP ON. After THREE hours of non-stop talking -- we were starving. We found a WONDERFUL little Thai restaurant right in the middle of town. The soup was amazing...

My friend Marion always says "why would anybody write fiction -- when the truth is so bizarre."...and Becky's story proves that point...here it is....

Becky was raised on a farm in Iowa. When she left for college (she was the youngest)-- her mother left her father and moved to Chicago. Becky's Mom fell in love with and married a man who was 25 years younger than she was. Oh, yeah -- he was black and he used to be a priest.

See what I mean??

It was a brilliant day and I am blessed to have such a wonderful friend....

And if you are lucky enough to have a Becky in your life -- CALL HER RIGHT NOW...!!