Sunday, January 31, 2021

Thread and ropes...

 I set my machine up for quilting, made a plan, and began my first official free motion quilt.  

I wanted to quilt aspen leaves, so I found a few outside.  I traced them onto some old labels. It works perfectly.  I just stick them on and quilt around them.

I'm very happy with the results.  I think it should go well.  Quilting is my favorite part of the whole project.  It is soothing to just focus on each stitch.  

Today I went to the Rapid City Stock Show to watch my niece team rope.  The steers were fast and she missed. It was an honor to be there as only the fastest high school rodeo times got to go.  It was good seeing the older two nieces.  They grow up so fast.

I'm afraid that is the extent of my adventures.  How have you been occupying your winter time?  

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Whiling the winter away...

Nothing exciting this weekend.  I made an upside-down pineapple cake.  As always, Ella and I went for our weekly jaunt.

This cake is easy peasy.  

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

1/4 c. Butter melted 
1/3 c. Brown Sugar
1 can of Pineapple (rings, chunks, or shredded)

Melt butter in bottom of a 9x9 pan.  Mix in brown sugar and pineapple.

1 1/3 c. Flour
1 c. Sugar
1/2 t. Salt
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/3 c. Shortening
3/4 c. Milk
1 Egg

Mix flour-egg and pour over the top of the pineapple mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  A refreshing treat.

Ella and I had to work off dessert.  We went for some cold crisp fresh air.  We actually had enough snow to break out the snowshoes.

She is a bit stiff tonight.  Other than that, it was a quick weekend.  I hope you had more excitement. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Winter work...

It is hell getting old.  Today we got about 8 inches of snow.  Did the shoveling get to me?  Maybe a little, but not as much as basting that dang quilt.  
The only place big enough to spread out quilt for basting is in the basement.  The floor is a very cold hard tile.  Actually, colder and harder than I remember.  I am very happy with the quilt, not so happy with how stiff and sore I am.  I can hardly move.  During the process my knees popped like corn in a hot kettle.  I don't remember that being such a deal.  Now it is done, I will recover, and on to the fun part the quilting.
I got a pleasant surprise from my sister.  She sent me my Grandmother's favorite cookbook.  Filled with notes and recipes.  I was overjoyed to see her silver dollar pancake recipe in her handwriting.  Whenever I stayed at Grandma's she would make silver dollar pancakes, bacon, and hot black coffee.  I really wanted that recipe for the family cookbook.  We tried the recipe today and it came out perfectly.
Ella and I went for a run yesterday.  It was good to get out and breathe fresh air.  We had terrible winds on Thursday and Friday.  There was a bit of a break then scattered snowstorms yesterday and today.  I guess winter finally found us.

 It was a good weekend.  I accomplished quite a bit. Most of all I appreciated the time winter offers to sit, reflect, and plan.  I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for my quilt project.  I also did some serious housecleaning.  Part of it was to ease my restlessness caused by the high winter winds.

Do you find winter productive?  How do you keep busy?  I hope the weather was a bit calmer in your corner of the world.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Winter Wonderland...

 We had an icy fog for two days.  Not anything anyone wants to drive in, but it made for a beautiful walk.

It was a good weekend to work on the back of my quilt.

Next weekend is my least favorite part... basting the front, batting, and back.  Then my favorite part the quilting.

I hope everyone had a productive weekend.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Goodbye 2020 and hello 2021...

  Every year I look back on my past goals and look forward to my goals for the upcoming year.  Everyone talks about how terrible 2020 was, but looking back 2019 wasn't a picnic for me either.  It has to get better right?  After all, hindsight is 2020.  Normally, I start with my new goals and then review my success or failure of last year's goals.  I think this year I will start with the past and end with a new beginning.  I am posting my 2020 goals from the first paragraph... 

I will begin with the past, 
2019 was a difficult year.  In May, I sat in on a phone conference where we were told that all Forest Service Job Corps were being closed.  I then had to tell our 57 employees that in September we would be done.  Thankfully, legislators and support from the Forest Service kept that from happening.  Still it was a scary year.  Twenty five years at an alternative school and finding out you need a new education job at the end of May does not bode well for a person.  Still, we made it through.  Now that that heart stopping obstacle is over, I'm mentally stronger and ready for a new year.   I'm a goal setter and I feel like I already have a good head start on 2020.  (Little did I know)

First is self improvement.  I have been doing yoga six times a week for the last two months and I cannot say enough how much better I feel.  My balance, strength, and stress level has all improved.  Last year I started reading a book a month and I will continue that into 2020.  I am still looking for something to do within the community.  This one is more important than ever as the support we received from the community was overwhelming when we were told our program was going to close.  Very few of our students are local, yet the concern from the people around us meant more than they will ever understand.  I really feel the need to give back.

I am proud to say I am still doing yoga 6 days a week.  It has made a huge difference.  Since I worked from home in the summer, I did a lot of running in the mornings with Ella.  I did quite a bit of reading up until October.  Then the library became pretty sporadic about when they were open and I started going back to work every day and wasn't able to stop when they were open.  I did start a natural resources program at our high school and that was off to a great start with community involvement and several projects planned within our forest and community.  Unfortunately, at the end of March our students were sent home and we were unable to fulfil our obligations.  Hopefully, this year.

Gardening is always a goal.  I need to be proactive with all garden intruders.  Last year it was deer.  This year it was mice and slugs.  They ate all of my vegetables.  I do have a sneaky suspicion that Ella ate the broccoli.  I found Sluggo and this year I'm not afraid to use it.  I want to add one more cutting bed by the barn.  I would also like to add some plum trees to the orchard.  I also need to come up with a water feature.  My beautiful birdbath was decimated by the hail storm two years ago and I have been unable to find a replacement.

My gardens were wonderful this year.  My loving husband got me a bigger greenhouse for Christmas and we put it together and got it up this spring.  My harvest included tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, and even a few luffa's.  The flowers looked great despite lacking late season rains.  I was able to get a little sheep water tank for my strawberries.  I planted my Gerkin cucumbers in the tank also and they went nuts.  Kelly won the giant pumpkin competition between my husband and I.  His was a whopping 3 lbs.  My orchard was the only area that didn't thrive.

On the family front, I want to create a finished family cookbook.  With every family there are traditional meals and dishes that everyone is known for.  For the last year I have been gathering recipes and photos.  I gave myself two years to complete the project, so it was an enjoyable experience and not a rush to complete the job.  

The cookbook project was a huge success.  I truly enjoyed making it and was happy with the outcome.  The best part is it will continue to have a life of it's own.  Although it went to print and was sent to family, I still have the template.  The cookbook has a life of its own and we will continue to add recipes, memories, and photos.  Every one of my nieces and nephews will get a copy when they graduate.  

I also started a big commitment and plan on making a quilt for every niece and nephew that graduates.  I believe there will be one every year for the next 10 years.  Oh my gosh.  What have I gotten myself into?  At least it will keep my winters busy.

I finished quilt one.  I am in the middle of quilt two.  I am a slow learner, but I am learning.  Usually, when I quilt I just keep adding and guessing.  This year I am sitting down and figuring out the math and trying to put the quilt together on paper before piecemealing it together. 

My biggest goal this year is to support my husband on his new endeavor.  He plans on retiring in April.  We have been preparing for projects and a few bucket list items.  I am really looking forward to enjoying this summer with him.  His job had him busy and rarely able to make any weekend plans.  Now the world is our oyster.  Maybe we will even be able to take a trip.

This proved to be way more than we anticipated.  Three days prior to retiring we found out some very bad medical news.  We spent several months worrying that our worst nightmare would come true.  If anything good came out of COVID it was that I had to telework most of the summer and if there was ever a time I needed to be home with Kelly this was it.  Thankfully, I believe we have made it through stronger and more appreciative our time together.  

Well, that's over.  Where do we go from here?  

At the top of my list is to do some adventure with my husband.  We really enjoyed our time together this summer and I want to spend a couple of weeks with each other doing something fun or even a project.  

Next is to continue family and friend traditions.  I missed our family gatherings this year.  Even though we still had a week at Aunt Bonnie's not all of the nieces could make it and it just wasn't the same.  I was happy to have my sister come out.  That was fun.  I am committed to a new tradition of providing all of my nieces and nephews with a family cookbook and a quilt when they graduate.  I have also enjoyed taking a little time here and there to meet with friends.  This weekend I went hiking and had coffee with my friend, Michelle.  I'm super excited that my friend, Jodi, is moving back to the area.  I really missed going to the Festival in the Park with her and going to quilt camps.  

I am adamant this year that we need more water features on our property.  Long ago when we moved up here the road past us was filled with giant potholes that were always filled with water.  Tree frogs used them for laying eggs.  Butterflies and birds used them for water.  Now we have people living past us and they have drained or filled all of the puddles.  There has been a huge decline in the number of tree frogs.  I want to add a small pond or at least some puddle pools.  Hopefully, that will make a difference.

In the garden, I want to include Westerland, Campfire, and Music Box roses.  There are some orange hollyhocks that I am dying to try.  This fall I really put a lot of work into my bee and butterfly bed.  Hopefully, I will see some results.  I'm very excited about the bigger greenhouse.  I am addicted to roasted peppers and tomatoes and want to produce enough to keep me happy and well fed all winter.  Of course, I also have eyes on the biggest pumpkin prize.  

Probably the biggest thing I learned from COVID was how important it is to slow down.  Life goes by too quickly.  I spent the summer working from the porch and enjoyed not having to make the high stress drive to work and the immediate demands of the day can drain you. Now that I am back in the office and the students are trickling in, I am trying very hard to pace myself at work and try to balance paperwork with people.  That is difficult, because the government likes its paperwork.  Being without the students taught me just how important my time with them is. 

I made it though the last two years.  I have no idea what 2021 is going to throw at us.  I'm still going to make goals and hope that life will get back to 'normal.'  I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year!