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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amaryllis, HAPPY NEW YEAR & Addendum on the Blanket



 I planted my amaryllis bulb weeks ago. It was slow to get started but once it did it took off like crazy and got taller, and taller, making me think I might have to cut a hole in my ceiling, lol. This is the first one for me although I have given a couple as gifts before. When I bought it I was thinking I could use some prettiness during the cold and gloomy days of winter. And so it goes, we have numbing cold and more snow in the forecast. The weatherman says starting tonight at midnight possibly 8 inches in total by Thursday. So here we go again with the snow removal. Anyone caught out celebrating will have bad weather to deal with. I am so glad I am way past that point in my life. I would rather just spend quiet time here at home where I can fall asleep at midnight in my chair. Nothing like snoring out the old and snoring in the new year :)


 I sometimes totally suck at taking pictures. Now look at this masterpiece, did I even realize that at the top, where the pending bloom is, that I got the bottom of the wind chimes behind it, no I did not! Well, I could go back and retake it but I won't. I think you all get the idea about how tall this plant was getting. Does anyone have any tips on these? I could use some pointers. I know you can save it and plant it outside when the danger of frost is gone. Should I transplant it in my flowerbed, or should I just set the pot on the porch and bring it back in for another blooming this next year?

I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year, one that is good to you in all walks of your life ♥

Addendum: And for any of you who are wondering how it went with mom and the blanket, it went well. She was very happy, in fact she gave me a big hug and "Thank You!" She even offered to pay for it, but I refused anything, after all I had made it as a present because she wanted one so badly. I am glad that is now in the past, and time to move on ♥

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mom's Blanket, Not Without a Cost


Yesterday was a sunny, warm winter's day, actually it would have been perfect for taking pictures of this blanket had the wind not been blowing. Yeah, mom's blanket is finally done and I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. This has been an albatross around my neck. You can now know that my whining and crying about this thing is going to be over for once and for all. This has been a thorn in my backside and I know I have left you all wondering as to why I have procrastinated so very much, I am sure to the point where it has brought you to this blog with dread over my complaining. I can only attest to the fact that I made the first one with so many sad memories attached to it. I had never planned to make a similar one again. I truly do not believe my mother understands what a torture it was to labor over each flower. I know many of you are thinking, but she is your mother, you should not feel that way about her wanting this.


I know she is elderly and my youngest tells me to "just indulge an old woman" and my response to her was to ask if that is what she and her sister do when it comes to me, do they indulge an old woman? One would have to know that when it comes to my mother there is a ton of history, not very much of it good. She is, and has always been very narcissistic and more often thinks only of herself and what she wants. There are 5 younger half-brothers in my family and although I am the oldest child I am probably at the bottom of the list when it comes to favorites. In my book there should be no favorites and so it goes for many years she and I did not speak to each other. As long as everything was going the way my mother wanted it to go then things would be just fine. Life was "walking on egg shells" and it was not a comfortable feeling where my mom was concerned. My husband use to tell me it was "like world war 3 was going to erupt" when she and I was in the same room. She was very demanding and very controlling to the point it would make me miserable.


I have never asked for one penny from my mother. My first job the day after graduation from high school was being a waitress. That was back in the day when you made 75 cents an hour and relied heavily on tips. My take home pay was about $35 and my mom got half of that because she insisted that she had to be compensated for washing my uniforms and because I slept under their roof. She made it crystal clear that I was not going to live there for free, I was working and I would pay.  And so I did, until I could take it no longer and I moved in with the boss's daughter who had become my friend. My mother retaliated by calling my friend's mom and telling her to send me home. I know it wasn't me she wanted but the money she was missing out on with me now gone. My future husband would come into the restaurant where I worked and I did not know that for a long time he had had his eye on me.


We got engaged at Christmas when I was 18, and married the next year on July 2nd when I was 19, and married for almost 43 years. My husband worked at the same place my step-father worked. It was not unusual for him to come home with remarks he had heard, things my step-father had said about me at work....."she has made her bed, let her lay in it"......."the marriage will never last"........and so on and so forth. Nasty remarks with not one shred of positive, loving words. It has taken me years to push aside all of this heartache and grief, to forgive the past and move on, but the remaking of this blanket brought back pain where the heartache and grief of loss are so fresh. If I could have made it like this one.....


I think I would have been okay. I know, I know, you are probably thinking  "but that makes little sense", yet to me it does. The above would have been faster to do, faster to join, and finished in better time, but she wanted one just like the first one with the bordered flowers. Anyways, it is time to move on and get past this.

I am anxious to start something new and from the looks of it that "something" will be the crib-sized bobble heart blanket and the toddler size 2 sweater and hat for my friend Debbie's other granddaughter. She sent me a note in yesterday's mail informing me that she has purchased the yarn for the projects and will get it to me soon. Then there will be the knitted/crocheted scarf for Sheryl when she gets me the yarn. See folks, I have decided that people just do not understand pricing for hand made objects. So many do not understand that when they want something special made that the yarn must be purchased and paid for out of someone's pocket. If you pay a small fortune for the yarn and then tack on the price of labor (which we all know can never really be calculated) then they think it is highway robbery and way over-priced. My friend Jean (who use to own a yarn shop) told me once that I was charging way too low for my stuff. She said the rule of thumb use to be whatever you paid for the yarn, then doubled that for the finished price, but that changed as time went by. It became double the price of the yarn and then add the price of the yarn for the total to be charged. It became a sticky wicket when you told people what they owed and they in turn would go buy a piece of crap that fell apart the the first time they washed it..........oh well, to each his own. If you want that one-of-a-kind thing, handmade with love, then be best friends with the gal working the hook or needles. She knows the cost even if you have no clue.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holden's Christmas, Making Suet Cakes for the Birds & Sneak Peek


On Christmas morning I went to Rachael & Chris's to watch Holden open his presents from Santa Claus. Diaper changed and he was off and running.....here he comes from the bedroom and look at him, our very own Elf on the Shelf come to life. He had to show me his toys that he opened on Monday evening (of course I was there then, and what he showed me I had bought him, lol). These jammies were from his Auntie Meghan. She had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but she was there on Monday evening with all of us.


This business of opening presents is all new to him. It takes him awhile to open one gift and then of course he is so absorbed with it that he doesn't want to open the next one.


His mom had to tear the paper a bit for him to get started.


It was slow going but he eventually got the idea.


Next year it will be a whole new ball game when it comes to Christmas morning.


Then it was back to the business of opening more presents.

 


We did have a simple breakfast, something fast, fried egg and sausage sandwich with cheese, and of course a nice cuppa coffee. It was good, but I left my camera on the dining room table as usual and didn't get a pic of the meal. We had a wonderful Christmas. The only thing that could have made it perfect would have been Roger being there, but his spirit was there with us, and that was a comfort. On Monday evening we opened a box of chocolate covered cherries, Roger's favorite, and we passed the box around and all had one in memory to him. Then I lost the cap cover to my camera lens and the girls said it was just like what their dad use to do. I did find it though, in the side pocket of my purse.

On Friday I made some suet cakes for the birds. Here is how I do it:


Have some sort of plastic mold. One from a suet cake you may have bought at an earlier time works well because they are the exact shape needed to fit in the cage or holder. I have used muffin pans too just don't fill them but half full.

 
Of course you'll need some birdseed and some sort of fat like beef trimmings (from the butcher) or I use bacon grease that I have saved.


Melt the grease on the stove til it is warm, not hot.


Add the bird seed and mix well.


As you can see I buy and mix dried mealy worms to my seed. They are crispy critters and the birds love, love, love them, especially the blue bird and woodpeckers.


You may have to add more melted grease to the seed once it is in the mold. Just be careful not to run it over the edge of the mold. 

 
I put them on a cookie sheet and transfer them into the freezer where they will harden up. Once that happens you can remove the cakes from the mold and put them in a plastic freezer container for later. I like to put wax paper between the layers. They last a long time in the freezer. This is a cheaper way to make your own bird cakes and also use up that bacon grease that you hate to throw away. The birds love them and they use the grease for their feathers and to help keep them warm through the winter months.

Lastly, I finished my mom's blanket last evening......oh what a relief it is! I will post more about it in the next couple of days but here is a sneak peek for now...........


I hope all of you had a safe and wonderful Christmas, and I hope you got to spend some quality time with the ones you love. If you couldn't do that, I hope you took the time to cheer someone up who is alone and has no family. Maybe you worked in a food kitchen for the poor or helped someone in need. It is all good and God knows of your kindness. I am certain that person will always remember you for your kindness ♥

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finishing Up, Cheeseball & Holden


I got the little hat done for Holden. It matches the scarf I finished last week.


This scarf is one that was ordered by a customer. She had seen Holden wearing his scarf and asked if I would make one for her to buy. At the time I had his hat still on the knitting needles, she didn't realize there was a hat to come yet. Now I'm wondering if she will also want a hat to go with the scarf she ordered.


And here is my little guy modeling his new hat and scarf grandma made him. They fit perfectly :)
Then for anyone who is wondering, yes, I am putting together mom's blanket. It was a long time in coming, but I am on the home stretch now. It took me 2 days to arrange and attach all the motifs into rows.


 Then to start sewing the rows together.




 There are a total of 15 rows. The first row has 8, then the next row has 9, and you add to each row until you get 15 total for the center row and then you finish off the other half by decreasing 1 each row until you get to 8 motifs in the last row. I have 8 rows done so far and so I am over half way done. Mom knows she is getting this now. I took the last row with me to her house and showed it to her. I do believe she was surprised and never dreamed I have been at it on and off for several months crocheting this for her.


 I wanted to share this recipe below which is very simple and had some thumbs up reviews by family members....Bacon Cheddar Ranch Cheese Ball......


No holiday is complete without a cheese ball and normally I make the dried beef one at Christmas. This year I decided to try something new and found a recipe for a Bacon Cheddar Ranch Cheese Ball. I tweaked it up a bit because the amount of bacon and cheese was laughable.....I mean after all who doesn't like bacon and cheese, especially bacon, right?


You need:
2 packages of Philly Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package Hidden Valley Dips Ranch powder
1 pound bacon fried crisp and drained, crumbled


Now the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of bacon bits.....poo poo on that, I had real bacon in the freezer and decided to just go with that. You cream the cream cheese and beat in the ranch dip powder. Then by hand mix in the shredded cheese and 1/2 of the crumbled bacon.


After that is well incorporated it said to take your hands and form it in a ball, well I plopped it onto the middle of the serving plate and used a flat metal spatula to even and smooth it out. The last step is just to take the bacon that is left and apply it to the ball, press it in a bit to make it stick. I will admit to being short 4 slices of fried bacon (the dogs are not talking). Serve with crackers. I made 2 and everyone at my daughters liked it and so did everyone at my moms.


We opened our presents at Rachael's house last evening. I just wanted to share a few pics of my grandson. One has to only to watch a child to be reminded what Christmas is all about, the giving, the wonder, the surprise, the joy, and the contentment and peace of play. (Please disregard the roll of toilet paper, we ran out of Kleenex and that works well in its place).



He got new pajamas, Sponge Bob. He did not want to go change his clothes, he did not want to leave his new toys.


This picture does not show it, but there was his dad, mom and his Auntie Meghan all playing and laying down the track for his V-Tec cars. There are more presents to open on Christmas morning. The ones he opened last night was from his aunt and me.


But this is the picture I love the most, where he unwrapped the little monster (I won at the auction) and he was looking it over, and then when I asked him if he would take it to bed with him he looked up at me and with a big smile said, "Yes!" My only grandchild, he is so precious to me, a blessing. I wonder if his grandpa is looking down from heaven and seeing this little angel, our little angel here on earth. ♥

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another Order


Sorry for the repeats in the picture department, but this was the only one I took of the little knitted scarf I made my grandson. I really should have Rachael snap a pic of him wearing it. I took it over to him yesterday morning and she put it on him today when he went to his Nana's house (I am Grandma, other grandma is Nana). Well, Nana saw it and she thought it was so cute she asked Rachael if I would consider making another for her great grandson. Soooooooooo, who is it that just can't say "NO!". And Teresa, if you are reading this, you are so right, I have that African Flower blanket to finish for my mom. Christmas is coming way too quickly, it is this next Wednesday. I don't think I work too well under pressure, and the pressure is on to get busy and meet all my obligations. I want to thank all of you for your kind comments on these past several postings. Some of you don't have a blog so I can only say "Thank You" on my pages. I was thrilled to finally have reached 150 followers and since I am now coming up a 2nd year anniversary for blogging I will definitely have to have a GIVEAWAY. I would like to do it on the New Year because by then things have kinda simmered down and everyone is wore out from all the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I will have to think about what I can do to get all of your attention so that you come back and try to win. In the meantime, have a good week and take care of yourselves. I know you are all working hard to have a wonderful holiday, making special plans for your loved ones, so slow down a bit and take time for you ♥

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Here I Go Again!


You know that feeling of accomplishment that you get when you have made something a friend ordered and it was a project that took several weeks to complete, that feeling that a load has been lifted and you can now move on. My friend Debbie came over yesterday. Her mother passed away last Monday. She is the one who commissioned the baby blanket and sweater set. If you recall, I had finished it awhile back, but did not call her because since around Thanksgiving her mom had been hospitalized and one thing led to another and her condition snow-balled from bad to worse. When Deb saw the blanket and sweater set she was so excited, her words, "I love, love, love it! It is so cute!" I was sure she would, but it is always good to hear that sort of reaction. I was done with that, she took it home and what will I do next????????

On my way home this evening from babysitting my grandson, my cell phone rang. Of course it was snowing and there was enough on the road to have my Jeep in 4-wheel drive. I wasn't going to land in a ditch hunting for my cell phone, but at a STOP I dug it out of my purse to see who called. After all, it could be an emergency, right?..........It was Deb......."Sue, the reason I called is I want to know if you will make me another heart blanket, only bigger this time, crib size, and another sweater only bigger, all in a lighter shade of pink. I don't need it for about 2 months or so, I will go buy the yarn, how much do you think I need to buy?"

Now don't get me wrong, I like that she was so happy she wants more, and she has ordered things from me on other occasions in the past......now the pressure is on again. And, my friends, this girlfriend does crochet too, LOL. Looks like when she finds that yarn I will be back in the crocheting business again, for sure.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow & Other Stuff

 

After 2 days of snow this is the scene outside the French doors in my kitchen. Ya want some snow, come get it, it's free!


I spent 4 hours outside yesterday morning shoveling snow the old-fashioned way. Do I have a snow blower, why yes, I do. Can I remember how to start it, no, I do not. I shoveled snow till my coat was soaked through to my blouse. I shoveled snow while it was still snowing. There was another inch on the driveway when I stopped. I had about 3 more feet to go to the end of the drive and I had had it. Why bother I thought, the snow plow will just shove it all closed again anyways, I know, it happens all the time. I came in and then went back out at 5 pm for 2 more hours of shoveling. Some sweet soul had cleaned out the end of my drive. I have no clue who it was. I just know I thanked God for their kindness to me. I came in and took a nice hot bath with a side order of Tylenol. I thought if I should have my heart attack at least they will find me clean. I went back out this morning for another 3 hours. The wind was blowing and it was cold. The sun came out for about 30 minutes and then it was cloudy again. Our first measurable snowfall and I am sick of it already.

I filled the bird feeders and cleaned a spot for the dogs to do their business. When you have little dogs the snow is as deep as they are tall.

 

I have been doing little projects. I made a quick scarf for my grandson Holden. It is another stash buster. I love doing the knitted rice stitch (aka moss stitch) but was not so happy where you join the new color to the previous one. You always get that funky spot where the two colors come together. The rice stitch is done by casting on an odd number of stitches, I did about 17, then you k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 all the way across the row ending with a knit stitch. You will start and end with a knit stitch. You turn your work and the next row is just a repeat of the first row. All rows are worked that way. I did get the fringe on the scarf but didn't take a pic of it completed.


Then before the baby's scarf (I'm back tracking here) I used some more of my Jiffy yarn and made myself another scarf using the same rice stitch.


I love this Jiffy yarn for its softness and the ease when using it to knit or crochet.


More of the same yarn, different color for an eternity scarf for my youngest daughter Meghan. She will get this and matching hand warmers for Christmas. A few more pictures of them.......



 


The scarf and mitts do match in color, but amazingly the flash shows them otherwise. I seem to be on a kick of doing nothing but scarves lately. I'll do them until the next obsession comes along.





For a fleeting moment I got the bug to do some holiday baking. Well, this is as far as I got. I was meaning to add some decorations to these spritz cookies but.........

 

my heart wasn't in it, although my mouth was willing to be the taste tester over and over again. I ended up putting them in a container so they were out of sight. Oh, I had big ideas, I bought all sorts of ingredients to make up several kinds of cookies and share with family and friends, but I lost all interest in a short period of time. Right now I have a hard time focusing on any one thing for long. I seem to have lost interest in a lot of things. I know people are wanting me to get back to normal. I hate to tell them, but I will never be the same old Sue as before. I feel like such a wet blanket and I hate that I might be bringing people down with my loss. I am honestly trying hard to shake these feelings, but unless you have gone through the same thing it is hard to understand. I know 5 women who have become widows in the last 3 years so I am by no means the only one who is feeling like this. It just seeps through the cracks of my life and it takes so much energy to keep from falling all to pieces. Maybe it is because this is the first Christmas without my guy and next month, on my birthday, it will be a year since he passed away.


I ask that you do not give up on me. So many of you are the sunshine I need to brighten my days. I love that you include me in your lives, even if it is from afar. I love to read what you are doing whether it be happy or sad. I get many a good laugh from some of your funny happenings and the silly things that you share with all of us. So many of you have a rock solid sense of humor mingled with compassion and understanding. So many of you have your own troubles and struggles. I love that many are so giving and unselfish. You are all undemanding and accepting. You are all blessings, I can't say that enough ♥
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