Measure. Cut. Sew. Snip. Press. Repeat.

I’ve spent every spare minute the past week cutting material into little tiny pieces and then sewing it back together.

Maybe I’m crazy.

At least a little addicted.

But there’s something very relaxing about cutting little squares and methodically sewing them together to make geometric designs.

Sewing Quilt

My mind wonders as I measure, cut, sew, snip, press, repeat.

I plan menus, pray, listen to music.

Relax.

Measure, cut, sew, snip, press, repeat.

Piece by piece quilt blocks are forming in my hands.

Green. Blue. Plaid. Solid.

Rhythm. Order. Control.

Quilt Blocks

As my hands work, my mind slowly untangles the snarls of the day, almost unconsciously.

Measure, cut, sew, snip, press, repeat.

Schedules are figured out. Projects planned.  Lists created.

Little by little my pile of finished blocks grows – a tangible and very satisfying measure of my time.

A quilt is forming.

And peace reigns.

 

Got Grease?

GreaseA quick laundry tip today – because the weather is much too beautiful to be inside either writing or reading  blog posts! 🙂

You know those nasty grease stains that end up on your clothes after cooking – or the ones you kids create when they spill supper?

The fastest and cheapest way to deal with them is too use the waterless hand cleaner that is used to get grease off your hands.

Just pour a little on the stain and rub it in. Don’t add any water. Let it sit for a minute and then launder as usual!

I’ve been doing this for years and it’s never failed me yet!

Any brand will do – I picked up a cheap bottle at the dollar store today. Just don’t get the ones with pumice in it – they are a little hard on clothing!

Happy laundering!

Folks – We Have a Problem

Folks we have a problem.

ALL of these shoes….

Shoes

…need to fit in these buckets. Buckets Somehow I have the feeling it ain’t a’gonna happen.

It’s like putting “2 ton of fertilizer in a 1 ton truck”

I don’t honestly know where all these shoes came from.

Do you think that shoes can have babies when left unworn for a period of time?

I know socks can’t – they just run away from home.

Or maybe we have extra kids hanging around that I haven’t noticed. (Hey Cinnamon – have you done a head count recently? Do you have everybody?)

Maybe it’s time to play Cinderella and find the shoes that fit the kid – and make a large donation of the extras!

Shoes that is.

Not kids.

Check List

I can’t believe that Dagmar’s graduation is one week away!

The kids are teasing about my pile of lists – even adding nonsense things to them to confuse me! (Would you believe somebody actually wrote “chip concrete from my toes” on one list?!)

But the truth is – we’re making good progress.

1

Dagmar’s photo collage is done, we’ve dug out all the awards and ribbons, the invitations are sent and her senior picture is framed.

The dining room chairs are recovered.

The freezer is full of buns and cookies. (Just how many cookies and buns do you need for an Open House? I don’t know about you – but I always feel like it’s a little bit more than I already have!)

Remember my week-long quilting frenzy in March? The one in which I spent an entire week cutting and sewing 3 inch blocks together and ended up with 2 twin size quilt tops?

FinishedWould you believe that I actually finished hand quilting one quilt!!! It is now laying on Dagmar’s bed.  I hope to be done with Angel Girl’s quilt this weekend.

We have sanded, stained, and varnished the window and door trim from the sun room and the 2 basement doors (some of the downstairs trim that didn’t get finished before Matt’s graduation last year.)

Then there was the school room. Remember my mess?

2The desk and unused computers were replaced with a futon thus transforming the room into a guest room/library. (Look Uncle Tim – You now have a bed to sleep on when you come!)

And the piles of stuff on the floor waiting to be sorted? Well – just between you and me – I repackaged what was left and hid it somewhere else. 🙂 You won’t tell will you?

I still need to make a last minute grocery list.

Wash windows.

Hang the finished trim.

Oh – and  we should probably clean house!

I think I need a new list.

Some Days are Marathons

It’s finally time to put the Bosch Mixer away and clean the kitchen.

We’ve had a workout today.

MixerThings started really, really early.

Jan and I were in Kansas City and back (a 4.5 hour round trip) before 9:00 AM to get Matt to the airport for a 7:30 flight. I think the alarm clock said something like 4:00 when I woke up. 😦

But that was just the beginning.

As soon as I got home, I popped a turkey in the oven that had been in brine overnight, started a batch of rolls for graduation, and gave 2 spelling tests and a English lesson.

By lunch time I had a mock-smoked turkey to de-bone, yeast rolls in the oven, a second batch rising and cookies in the mixer.

tableBy 4:00 I had the turkey in the freezer for graduation weekend, 120 rolls ready to freeze, a batch of  graduation cookies done, supper in the crock pot, and 12 cups of dry bread cubes for another meal next weekend.

Oh – and a batch of decoy cookies  so the kids will stop eating the ones we’re making for graduation!

Whew. I’m tired.

Where was all my help? Matt was in a plane somewhere between Kansas City and Texas. Dagmar was in an ambulance on the way to Des Moines (as the attendant – not the patient!) and Buddy was helping Pedro fix fence.

That left Angel Girl, who bravely manned the kitchen with me all day.

She’s tired, too.

Boy am I glad supper is in the crock pot!

Anybody want to do some dishes? 🙂

Remember that Melted Spatula Incident?

Remember my little incident with the melted spatula in the cast iron pan?

It Melted
Yep. That mess.

I really liked that little pan. So we started researching how to remove the melted plastic and restore that sweet little gem to its former glory.

We checked on line but came up short – so we checked with Jan’s buddy Donny. (Donny’s the kind of guy who knows everything – and he’s usually right.)

Well – Donny told us to throw the pan in the fire the next time we had a hot dog roast. Throw some ashes in it and let it get good and hot. The plastic would just melt off.

Remember those brush piles Jan and the boys burned off?

We did just what Donny said and threw the skillet in one of them, covered it with ashes and let it cook for awhile.
Pan2
The plastic did melt right off – and so did the seasoning – leaving a rather dejected looking pan.

But Donny told us what to do about that as well!
PanI scrubbed it off, covered it with a thin layer of shortening and put it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and a half.

I repeated this process until I had a nice, well-seasoned pan!

Thanks Donny.

And now you know the rest of the story!

Keeping Up With the Parents

Hey! I’m back! Did you miss me?! So what was I doing all last week that kept me from blogging?

Would you believe I was trying to keep up with my parents?

I’m not kidding.

Mom and Dad spent several days with us last week and I don’t think those two ever stop!

The big project of this trip was the stairwell.  When we replaced the plaster and lathe with drywall, it left an unsightly 1/2 inch gap between the existing stair trim and the wall.

stairwell before

The solution? Wainscoting.

I carefully stained and varnished every piece and Dad painstakingly fit them together just like a puzzle.

stair well afterI still need to stain and varnish the top rail – but it looks amazing!

When he finished the upstairs, he had enough to start the basement stairs.

Meanwhile Mom was on the sewing machine whipping up 2 skirts for me and teaching the girls how to make bow ties.

We still had time for a quick trip to town (which included a stop at the lumber yard!), several games of Bananagrams, revising my to-do list for Dagmar’s graduation party next month, and lots of party food sampling.

Whew!

There’s nothing as wonderful as a finished project – especially when it involved spending time with those you love!

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Spring Cleaning

I felt so rested and refreshed after Easter Sunday that I embarked on a rather ambitious project on Monday – I decided to clean the school room.
Cleaning

Our school room is rather misnamed. It should be called the “catch-all”.

It’s the little room tucked off the living room where we have many library shelves filled with books, my file cabinets, a couple of computers that no longer work and lots of stuff that I need to deal with it.

You know the stuff – it’s all the things that you discover while cleaning and don’t know what to do with.

“Just put it in the school room and I’ll decide later.”

And the things that are out and need to be put away quickly because company’s coming.

“Just put it in the school room and close the door. We can put it away later”

But later never came.  Until now.

It was a mess – but I was determined to deal with the clutter. I went through shelf after shelf, sorting through hundreds of books – each one an old friend.

I straightened, organized and yes – even purged a few. (Oh – but that was painful!)

I emptied boxes, sorted computer games, and worked my way through files.

Now three days later – bits and pieces from the school room are spread all over the downstairs as I sort and sift.

But there’s a problem.

I’m out of energy.

And company is coming.

You know what’s going to happen don’t you.

“Just throw it in the school room and I’ll decide later!”

I think I’ll close the door again. 🙂

Hypothetically Speaking…

It MeltedA quick question this morning:

Are the fumes from a melting plastic spatula harmful?

As in – should one evacuate the house if said spatula should happen to melt and fill the house with eye-watering noxious fumes?

Hypothetically speaking of course.

Let’s just imagine that a housewife wakes up late, rushes to get her husband breakfast only to discover that all the metal spatulas are dirty and sitting in the dishwasher that didn’t get turned on the night before.

So she grabs a plastic one. As soon as the egg is flipped out on the plate, she puts the plastic spatula in the cast iron skillet and moves it to the back burner.

Then, after she hands her wonderful husband his lunch and kisses him goodbye, she decided to have a cup of hot tea.

So she fills the tea kettle and puts it on the front burner and turns it on.

While the water heats, she decides to check out Pinterest for a few minutes. A few minutes turns into several because Pinterest is so addicting…and the next thing she knows there is a nasty odor emanating from her kitchen.

She rushes in to discover that she accidentally turned on the back burner instead of the front burner and there is green plastic slime melted all over the cast iron skillet and a cloud of nasty fumes billowing through the house.

Hypothetically speaking of course.

So – other than sitting the pan and melted plastic outside, opening all the windows in the house (despite the fact that it is 50 degrees and sprinkling) and offering the kids hot chocolate for breakfast to warm them up, what else should she do?

And how in the world does one get melted plastic out of a cast iron skillet?

Hypothetically speaking of course.

I never liked that spatula anyway.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

SoapOkay – I’m  jumping on the band wagon.

While I’ve seen recipes for homemade laundry detergent all over cyber space for some time – I never quite got my act together to make some.

Until now.

Yes – this country gal finally found the right ingredients – had them all on hand at the same time – and made a batch of laundry soap.

Believe it or not – it was easy. And uber-cheap.

My friend Kimmer sent me this recipe. She got it from her friend Cindy – who found it at Thy Hand Hath Provided.

Homemade Laundry Soap
This recipe makes 5 gallons of concentrate which equals 10 gallons of ready-to-use laundry detergent. 

1 five gallon bucket (clean and with a tight fitting lid)
a long handled spoon
an empty (used) laundry detergent container (or juice or vinegar container, clean)
hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Bar
1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1/2 cup borax

Grate the Fels Naptha laundry soap bar we used a cheese grater (Well, actually, it was Buddy who used the cheese grater. This was the most time-consuming part of the entire process making it the perfect job for an 11 year old boy. If you don’t have one – you could borrow mine- but he does eat a lot.)

Add the grated Fels Naptha to a medium sauce pan along with 4 cups of water.  Heat over medium high heat while stirring occasionally until the soap has melted completely. (The funny thing is – the grated soap looks like amazingly like grated cheese – causing some puzzled looks since we heated it up as we were making lunch!)

While it’s melting, fill your five gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. (At this point your house will be smelling very – well – soapy. Pedro commented that our house hasn’t smelled this clean since Matt got the air freshener for graduation!)

Once the bar soap has melted, add it to the bucket along with the washing soda and borax.  Stir it well until everything has dissolved.  Add hot tap water to fill the bucket and stir again.

Cover tightly with the lid and let sit overnight to thicken.  Stir well (it will gel and separate a bit).  You have just made concentrate.

When you’re ready to use it, stir the detergent well, then fill your empty detergent container half full with the concentrate.  Fill the rest of the container with water.

Shake before each use.  Use 1/4 cup per load for a front loading machine and 5/8 cup per load for a top loading machine.

 I must confess that I had trouble mixing the concentrate the next morning. It was pretty globby (is that a word?!) and I finally gave up on using a spoon and used my hands to squish the globs.
Finally I measured out enough to half- fill my empty laundry detergent container into a large container, added that much water and used my immersion blender to mix it up. Perfect!
Also – if you are needing a good bucket and lid – I would highly recommend using a 5 gallon bucket and a Gamma Seal Lid . These plastic lids fit tightly on the top of the bucket but easily screw on and off. I love them!
Happy washing!