Monday, November 30, 2015

Inspired To Sew

This is the current issue of Inspired To Sew magazine. I loved talking to Pati Palmer, and it was a pleasure to tell her story.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our October Road Trip

I don't do Black Friday shopping. As a matter of fact, I'd rather light my hair on fire and put it out with a hammer.

So, in that spirit -- I'm going to get back to some normal blogging and act like that whole Black Friday thing is not happening...

In October, John and I celebrated our 45th anniversary. Wow. I don't know who's surprised more -- me or John.  Believe me, it was not a slam-dunk...l

John does not enjoy travel. Or parties. Or people for that matter...So, our celebrating is often a little road trip -- just the two of us. In October -- we love going to Wisconsin...
John always does ALL the driving.  I try to find a book on tape he will enjoy. (or, at least tolerate).
The farmers were busy picking the crops.
Although, there was still a lot of standing corn.
One of our favorite destinations is Pike's Peak -- near McGregor, Iowa.
The views of the Mississippi are incredible

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving

And, hey -- if you're reading this blog because your Thanksgiving sucks and you are feeling lonely and sad -- BUCK UP. You're not alone. Remember -- the very BEST thing about Thanksgiving is that it is JUST ONE DAY. That's all it is.

Read a book, take a nap, walk on the treadmill -- SEW A T-SHIRT DRESS.

Or, honestly -- forget doing anything worthwhile.  Eat whatever you want.  IT'S JUST ONE DAY.  Eat a whole pan of fudge. Find the recipe on my Pinterest boards -- I know the fudge is there...
Homemade hot chocolate sauce!!  For just today -- consider chocolate a Food Group!!
I can personally attest to the delicious nature of this salted caramel corn...
Wanna try fry bread?  Maybe today is the day.  Look it up on the Internet...
FRIED POTATOES has always been my personal go-to comfort food.  DO IT...

While enjoying a day of guilty pleasure junk food -- fall into your television!!

Get this --  HGTV has a marathon of Fixer Upper.  The Discovery Channel is running a marathon of NAKED AND AFRAID...and if that's not enough entertainment, TLC is running Who Do You Think You Are?  all day.

If you have On Demand -- OH MY GOD, WATCH Nurse Jackie.  I watched the first six seasons in about a week, and I can't remember when I ever enjoyed a television show more. Great writing, complex characters, interesting, fast-paced stories.

With On Demand, the possibilities are could watch five seasons of Dance Moms!!  Or Three seasons of the Real Housewives of New York City!!  I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the House of DVF.  (Diane Von Furstenburg).  There are only two seasons, but it's WAY better than Project Runway.

Thanks for reading my blog today. If you feel like you were nearly pecked to death by a turkey --  remember.  IT'S JUST ONE DAY.

Enjoy the chocolate.  You deserve it...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tie One On Day

If you're in the middle of a hectic day of Thanksgiving PREP -- take a deep breath.

 It's easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect. Your goal is to have the most beautiful table, moist turkey, perfect gravy, delicious's always more work than it should be. But none of that matters at the end of the day... It's about the people, people...

Appreciate your people. For who they are. For what they bring. Say some encouraging words...You never know if or when you might be saying the words they remember 40 years from now...Let them know you are proud. If not proud -- at least hopeful.

Kiss all the kids on the head. Tell them they are kind and smart and important... While every single thing you do today may not be appreciated -- Thanksgiving is one of those days that often remembers better than it lives...

AND -- Today is the official Tie One On Day...

It's about delivering something homemade, or handmade, wrapped in an apron, on the day before Thanksgiving.  The idea is to stop your busy day of pre-Thanksgiving prep to think about a friend or a neighbor who may benefit from a random act of kindness.

EllynAnne Geisel, who came up with the wonderful idea, told me there is no right or wrong way to do it.

And, for the second year in a row -- here's what I'm doing.  I will take a coupon for a large pizza to Warren's wonderful daycare provider.  Julie is her name -- and taking excellent care of little boys is her game...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sandy's Wild New Pants

One of the highlights of 2009 was the fall trip I took to New York City with my friend Sandy Randolph. Our friend Carol was working as a travel agent at the time -- and got a screaming hot deal on a beautiful hotel room at the Marriott Marquis. Evelyn went, too -- and the four of us had a wonderful, wonderful time.
Sandy, Carol, Evelyn and me. At the TOP OF THE ROCK.
I first met Sandy 25 years ago, when she gave me a GREAT haircut. She's been doing that ever since...and we've had some wonderful times together both in and out of her beauty shop.

About the only flaw I can find in my friend Sandy is that she does not sew. lol...

Recently, she asked me if I could make a pattern from her favorite pair of leggings (8 years old).  They were that one-pattern-piece kind -- with no side seam...hummm...Her sister Kay (who does sew) was willing to make some new leggings for Sandy, but they couldn't get the pattern right...
I cut the pants I could get the crotch curve right...
Then, I added in seam allowance, hems and turned over waistband...
I traced the new pattern on Do-Sew.
Then, I decided to make a test pair of pants.
Using some WILD stretchy knit out of my stash.
After a scant ten minutes of sewing -- here's Sandy's not new leggings...
She looks SOO GREAT in these pants!!
I was delighted with the way the pants turned out.  I've gotta say, it was a good exchange of services. Sandy got a new pair of one-of-a-kind designer leggings. And I got my last haircut before she leaves for Florida.

After our most recent blizzard, those Snowbirds are looking smarter and smarter...

Monday, November 23, 2015

The First snow day of the year

We had 8" of heavy, wet snow -- which totally socked me in.  Although it did get sunny in the afternoon, I did not feel the need to fight my way down the long lane....

So, my first Snow Day of the winter, I stayed cozy and quiet in the house.  Here's how it went...
  • John made breakfast. His wonderful brown eggs, bacon and toast.
  • I went to the basement and sewed insert side panels into Warren's too-small John Deere plaid fleece jacket. (wait till you see it -- it is so cute!)
  • Then, I repaired the cloth Mittens hamper...and tried to gather up winter mittens and hats.
  • I made Nancy Zieman's Banana Bread recipe...yummo...the house smelled GREAT. (recipe at the end of the post)
  • I had leftover Chili, so I boiled some macaroni, added a package of cream cheese, topped with some shredded cheese, and made a chili/mac/bake.
  • Since I was in the kitchen, I decided to pressure cook the giblets for Thanksgiving stuffing. That'll give me a head start on some of the prep work...
  • I did a basement treasure hunt for last year's WINTER gloves, mittens and hats
  • I spent a quiet, leisurely hour reading the wonderful book, Personal History, by Katharine Meyer Graham
At 6:30, because Elliott and Emily were invited to go out for dinner,  they brought both Lilly and Warren here to spend the night.

Hey -- they're young!!  They have a different criteria for being "snowed in"...

So my quiet day turned into a riotous loud night...with the kids running around, generally chasing the dog with a lot of random screaming.


Nancy Zieman’s A–Z Quick Bread Recipe  (most delicious)

Blend together
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour

Add 2 cups of “A–Z” Such as:

2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups bananas, mashed
2 cups carrots, shredded 2 cups zucchini, shredded
“N” for nuts is optional

Note: For moist bread, use 1 cup of applesauce and 1 cup of another fruit or veggie.

Pour into two loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50–55 minutes

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Holiday Parade

We are having our first big snow of the year. With high winds, it's a blizzard. And the people in control decided that, to be safe, they had to cancel the Holiday Parade.... I am so sad. Lilly and I were both excited about going to the Parade -- but, instead -- we'll be snowed in this weekend. The snow is still coming down...


Here's my parade report from LAST year....

We arrived in downtown Davenport about an hour before the parade was to begin. There were thousands of people, and soon, we were in gridlock traffic. Ugh. I parked the car and we got out to walk down to the parade route.

All those thousands of people were carrying those nifty lightweight folding canvas know the kind -- with the carrying case they casually fling over their shoulder.

Oh oh. It suddenly dawns on me that I'm going to have to stand for the next three hours.


I almost turned around at that point -- but Lilly was so excited.....So, we walked on -- and I hoped there would be a bench somewhere...or at least a tree I could lean on....

Then, on the corner of 3rd and Ripley, right where the parade is going to make a turn -- I notice all these people sitting on chairs and benches in front of a junk store I've never noticed before. We went in, and it is jam packed with my kind of treasure....used furniture, some Retro stuff, many kitschy pieces....
I took this picture three hours AFTER the parade...because during the actual parade, it was impossible to cross the street to even TAKE the darn picture...

Lillian and I walked in and I looked around, hoping there was something I WANTED TO BUY -- so I could befriend the owner...(yes, I am an evil genius -- AND I used to own a retail store...!)

As Ritaluck would have it -- I found the PERFECT treasure.  Larry (my new friend, the owner) negotiated a price with me for a lighted coyote mirror. ($20)

Still looking around his exciting store, I said   "how much for one of those benches out front?"

Larry:  $5

Me:  Sold.  (getting my billfold out of my purse)....So, now, Larry -- you must go out there and tell those people to get off my bench...

Of course, laughing now -- he did exactly that. The two men who had settled in on the bench to watch the parade were dismayed to be losing their sturdy seat  (hey -- THEY HAD EVERY CHANCE TO BUY THE DARN THING)...

Larry brought my bench into the store...and I paid him the money. He told me we could set it up on the empty lot side of his store -- where there was a little rise -- and we'd be able to see all the balloons coming down the street...
I actually took this picture AFTER the parade -- when there weren't SO MANY PEOPLE

Lilly and I sat on the bench until the parade started. Once things got rolling, she wanted to be on the curb -- and as it happens -- we had a small tree right in front of us -- so she had a PERFECT watching spot, and she didn't have to push in front of the people who arrived before us...

It was one of those spectacular, perfect days.  Lilly was five years old.  And, even though I was counting on it becoming an annual tradition for us --  maybe it's okay that it was canceled.

Because we could never top last year...

Friday, November 20, 2015

My Love Affair with New Glarus

As you know, once a week, I try to have a real visit with a friend. It can be a local lunch -- or a little day trip. (I am long overdue for a visit with Anne in Cedar Rapids.)

This fall, as the leaves were turning -- I met my friend Deanna in New Glarus, Wisconsin. She lives in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and I live in Princeton, Iowa. Last year we hooked up in Mineral Point, Wisconsin....and this year, we picked New Glarus. It was about a 2 hour drive for each of us.
Our plan was to meet at the Swiss Historical Village.
The front door
A wooden sculpture of a Swiss Alp animal?
I had to show the animal first -- so you wouldn't think Deanna was growing horns in this picture...
A wall map of the actual Glarus, Switzerland
Deanna, with our tour guide, John.
Yes, it's a cannon. And yes, we think we're hot stuff...
There are many little buildings in the Historical Village.  This one was fascinating...
On the outside of the Bee Hotel.  (the inside, the hives are on one side, like a post office -- and the lets-make-honey kitchen is on the other side.  Genius.)
Of course, a replica school
This wasn't actually so long ago
At the end of the tour, in the church, John let Deanna sit down and play the organ. From the 1800's. She did some kind of irreverent ragtime number...and our tour guy John loved it...
Yes, there was some fried cheese....
Deanna and I had the perfect day. We laughed, we talked, we caught up on each other's lives. In a way friends simply MUST DO every now and then. Touch base, y'know?? AND, on this particular occasion, we also learned something. Which I will write about later....

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Sometimes, I have trouble posting videos. Who knows...the deep and unknowable internet...but if it works, I think you will enjoy this. 

Every now and then (rarely, actually) -- John sends me an email. He knows I won't open anything that comes from Fox News. But I do get a kick out of something like this...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wonderful Warren Wednesday

Our beautiful Fall is over. It's been cold and rainy for two days now...and winter is clearly on the way. But today -- I'm going to do this...