Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Surprise Box!

I had fun mail today.  I received a Christmas card from somebody in England.  I'm in a couple of Christmas card swaps that is being done on Swap-Bot and the first one came today.  I forgot to take a picture of it but I will take a picture when I have some more cards from the swap.  I also received some other Christmas cards and, gasp, sent out the first batch of my own Christmas cards.  While I was at the Post Office, I snapped a couple of picture of the lights in the area.  The first one is Rosita's Restaurant and I liked how they decorated their outside patio.

This next one is how the light poles by the Post Office were decorated.  DeKalb has some trees that line the streets down town and they had the small lights on them.  It really does make it look so festive.

But wait, as the announcer would say, there's more!  I received a box full of goodies.  Look at everything that was in it!  Somewhere buried under the fabric is a magazine called create and decorate.  It looks very interesting.  I haven't seen that before so it will be fun to look through it.

That painted rock says "love" on it too.  isn't it so cute?!


Since it is the weekend, I've also done some cooking and worked on presents/not presents for work.  First of all my cooking.  I made a slow cooker potato, hamburger (although I used ground turkey), cheesy layered dish today.  Didn't take a picture of it since I dished it up for lunch before thinking on it and then the cheesy in it made it sort of slide and not stand up well.  It was good though.  I also made 5 minute sunshine sauce from Pinch of Yum.

It is hard to describe but has olive oil, various spices, a touch of sugar and either white vinegar or lemon juice.  I used lemon juice.  It is very smooth and, dare I say it?, almost velvety.  I added more sugar since it was a bit salty.  Don't know why I thought sugar would counter the salt but it did help a bit.  I would cut back on the salt next time.  It can be used on almost anything.  I actually used it on my eggs.  I'm looking for different ways to have fried eggs.  This was good.  I'll have it on something else during the week.  Perhaps a salad or over potatoes or just meat.  Not sure what I have around.

I then started to work on some presents/not presents for the office.  I have two co-workers who I gave mug rugs to last year.  Not a technical Christmas present but just a little something.  This year Dana and Debbie are going to get this.

I have another version that I will give to my student helper Noah.

Noah's bowl is microwavable safe (but not the lid) and the decals on it were put on with Elmer's Washable School Glue so they can be taken off and washed clean.  I used the same glue on Dana's and Debbie's jar so it can too can be washed and reused.

Employee Wellness, years ago, gave us all M&Ms when we had a lot of stress in the office saying that it would us de-stress us because everybody loves to eat M&Ms and if you look at the M is can look like a smile (we won't go that it can also look like a frown).  We all need to have a stress relieve and who doesn't like to eat M&Ms?  Even if they don't like it, there are enough people at work that will help eat them if they leave it out and then they can reuse the container for whatever they wish.

That's about it for me tonight.  I'm going to sign off of the computer and go and sit in a comfy chair and do some crocheting.  Tomorrow is working on the test pattern since it has to be turned in soon.  But that is tomorrow and not tonight.  

I wish everybody a great day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017

Welcome to December!  Can you believe it?  Christmas is almost here (I'll wash my mouth out later with soap for saying that) and so is the new year.  I have finally decorated my office with what little decorations I put up and thought to share them with you.

My perpetual Calendar

This one always makes me smile.  The snowflakes are little rhinestones.  It's put up on my file cabinet.

I didn't make the tree but it's the right size for putting it on the typing stand/table.  The outside little ornaments light up too!

My latest creation which is now hanging on the door to my office.  It's called Anybody Home (found in The Quilt Pattern Magazine December issue) and I thought it appropriate considering where it is hanging.

Just a variety of mini wall hangings.  The "how good do I have to be" will be going to the office of an ex graduate assistant so she has something to hang up.

I like this one because I can keep it up even after Christmas.  
That's it for this post.  Just wanted to show that I do decorate around the office but don't at home.  Oh, did you notice George?  That's him sitting on the corner of my desk looking at the BIG snowflake.  He guards by desk for me.

Have a great day everybody and remember to smile and give somebody a hug.  They might need it but they might not tell anybody they do.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Quick update on Mini Owl Cross Stitch

I was able to work a bit more on the Mini Owl Cross Stitch from HAED.  It helped me not get any more patterns during Cyber Monday. 

Here is what I have done.

That is 1150 stitches on it.  I think it's coming along nicely.  I recently redid my storage containers and now have the mini owl in one side of my double storage container.  There is another cross stitch pattern and floss on the other side.

It's working out pretty good.  I'll update more later.  Thanks for reading and for all your encouragement. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wow! November is almost over!

News Alert - I survived Thanksgiving!   Perhaps I should say that I survived the leftovers also.  So what did I have?

I made:

Slow Cooker turkey breast with gravy
sweet potatoes
Delicata Squash
fresh cranberry sauce which I took some of and mixed in with cream cheese for a cracker spread
Lil' Smokies

So here are the pictures.  Nothing super great looking but the taste....yummmm.

3 lb. turkey breast
Gravy that was cooked with the turkey breast and then strained.  It's cooking down further on the stove.

Delicata Squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

What do you do with leftovers?  Make some refried rice.   Peas, rice, Lil' Smokies, spices.

Of course with such a full stomach, I sat down and picked up my yarn to work on my crocheting.  I managed to finish up the first skein of variegated green, or green tones as it was called, and am now working on the solid green.

I think I posted this picture before but it is the order of the colors I want.

You will notice that the skeins are different sizes.  The variegated colored ones will give me about 5" when worked up.  I will crochet the solids to about that size also.  I get bored with crocheting so then I put it aside and pick up the cross stitch again.

Here is my current progress picture for the Mini Owl.  This is a little over 800 stitches.

Of course I also had to pick up another cross stitch since it is a Christmas one.  It's on the floor stand which, to tell the truth, I took the picture of from across the room.  Yes, I was being lazy.  I think you can still see a little bit of the picture which is a snowman on a sled.

It's back to work tomorrow so I'm going to quit here and get back to crafting.  :)

Everybody be safe and have a great day.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Yep that's right.  I get to toot my own horn.  Way back I mentioned that I was testing another pattern for The Quilt Pattern Magazine.  They just notified me that it would be in the December issue so I can now show it to you.  It's called "Anybody Home?" and it is by Sharon Kirkpatrick.  It was so much fun to do.  

Isn't it cute?  What's not to love!

There isn't much else to report right now.  The holidays are coming and I'm working on a couple of projects that I can't show yet but when I can I will.

I've also decided to crochet a lap robe for me for home.  This will be an undertaking because I'm terrible at crocheting.  This is nothing but the basic and no pattern.  No pattern basically because I can't follow any patterns.  I am going to do this for me so it will just be single crochet.  I hate tying off so it will be do one skein in one color and then when I have to, I'll tie in the new skein.  LOL.  I am starting with a variegated green and when that ends I will pull out the other skein which is the red/white/green variegated one that I posted before.  It will be sort of Christmasy   Perhaps that will keep me going on it.  

I'll post pictures of it when it gets large enough to get a good feel for it.  Now it's back to some more cross stitch and some crocheting.  Gasp!  Did I really type that I'm going back to crochet?  LOL.

Everybody have a great day and a safe holiday.

Hugs to all!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Progress and goodies in the mail

What a hectic day.  It has been so busy that I forgot to post some things.  This is a quick post to catch up.

I had some goodies come to me this week.  For one thing, a new quilting ruler/template came.  The simple 7/8th ruler.  I saw a demonstration of this on YouTube and it convinced me to get it.

I also ordered a mini cone of the black/brown DMC floss since I had decided to use three strands in my Mini Owl HAED. 

I also discovered that I use that color in one of my applique blocks.  This will be a good addition to my DMC cone thread.

I am also working on my Gnome and Critters Christmas.  It doesn't look like much yet since it is the background more.  As you can see by the picture, I will soon be getting into some colors.  Can's wait for that.  I have some days off coming up so hopefully I can make progress on it and the other projects.

I need to get to bed so everybody have a great night/day.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Another use for fabric boxes

I just had to take a break from work today and share with you another use for fabric boxes.  You have seen my boxes that I made and today I found, thanks to the Dean of the Graduate School at NIU, another use for them.  I had been showing the larger size box and had left it on the persons desk.  The Dean came out of his office, saw it, and said "What's this?  A hat?"  Of course, being the kind of guy that he is, he had to put it on.  Sigh.

At least it has a use now.  LOL.  Yes I love where I work.  You never know what will happen.  :)

That's it.  Just wanted to share another use for the fabric boxes.

Enjoy and have a great day.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Squirreling

It's Sunday and, as usual, I'm squirreling.  I start one thing and change to something else.  My solution?  Work on more than one project at a time.

I don't have cross stitch progress pictures to share with you because they are boring.  Even *I* think they are boring.  I had to restart the Gnome Critter Christmas AND the Mini Owl.  So those are the two I am working on.  My goal is to do 300 stitches on the weekends in any combo of those two projects.  During the week?  Not sure what is a realistic number of stitches between work, gaming, quilting and cooking.  I'll report back on that.

On the quilting front I *do* have a picture to show you.  In the clean up the sewing area process, I discovered some blocks that I had done a LONG time ago but never put together.  I should have thrown them out.  I did such a terrible job on them.  I still had 9 of them so I put them together today.  Then I unstitched them and put them back together again since I messed up on the placement that I liked.  Pretty bad when you take pictures of the layout you like and you STILL mess it up.  Welcome to my life.  LOL.

Anyway, here it is.  I have a lot of trimming or something to do in order to straighten it out a bit more but it will eventually become a wall hanging.

I hope everybody has a great Sunday.  I'll chat later.  I still need to get my cross stitching done for today.  :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Stitching and Cooking on Sunday

Whew!  It's time for me to take a small break.  It's been a busy weekend.  I've made Sweet Potato Hummus, Beef Stew, Garlic Parmesan Potatoes, and decorated some of the cookies for the birthday party at work on Halloween.  Here are the pictures (well some of them since you already saw some in other posts).

The recipe, idea said to partially cover the nutter butter cookies but I'm tempted to totally cover them (at lest on the front).  What do you think?

I also managed to get some crafting in.  Remember that mini wall hanging I talked about in my last post?  I am stitching on the binding now.  I left off the bats which, to me, made it more Halloween than Fall. 

I am also in the process of taking off the blue markings on one of my Aida cloth so I can reuse it.  Since it would be blank Aida cloth I decided not to take a picture.  It is one step closer to getting back into some cross stitch which is nice too. 

Speaking of cross stitch.  I had ordered a double floss container from Amazon and it arrived today!  That was exciting.  Unfortunately one of the handles to one of them (I ordered two).  So I went on Amazon's website, went through the clicks to say I wanted to return one of them and why and much to my surprise (and delight) they are sending me a replacement and I do not need to mail back the broken one.

What broke was about a one inch piece of the handle.  Since I don't have to send it back, I'm going to try and gorilla glue it back in place.  Either way I will be able to use it!  Another thing that I that I wanted to share with you is a cross stitch journal that one of the ladies in one of my Facebook groups shared.  I hadn't thought of doing this, although have attempted to do them before for quilting, and thought some of you might be interested in seeing it.

I doubt that I can keep something that neat but it is a great idea.  :)

Time for me to get back to sewing on the binding to the little mini quilt.  Perhaps I'll get it done tonight and be able to hang it up tomorrow.

Everybody have a great night/day.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

cooking day

Usually I do my cooking on Sundays but I got a head start today when I decided to make Sweet Potato Hummus.  Yes, another hummus.  I decided to do this recipe since it was so cold in the apartment.  Heating up the apartment by cooking the sweet potatoes in a 450 oven seemed like a good idea...and it was!

So once I was committed, and not THAT kind of committed, I just HAD to finish the hummus, right?  That isn't the only cooking I will be doing.  I will also be making beef stew in my crockpot later.  Maybe Parmesan potatoes in the other crockpot or instant pot.  This should lead nicely into the second week of my FutureLearn course. 

I was looking into other courses of FutureLearn and found some interesting ones.  These are the courses which interested me.

Food as Medicine:  Food, exercise, and the Gut
A History of Royal Food and Feasting
Military Ethics:  An Introduction
Agincourt 1415:  Myth and Reality

So now it is time to turn my brain towards crafting.  I am working on the Happy Birthday Banner/table runner.  I have two more letters done.  It shouldn't be a problem at all to get it done by the end of the month.  YAY!

I was going to do some cross stitch after that but then it happened!  Most of you can relate...I saw another wall hanging that I want to do.  It's a seasonal one so of course I must get it done like NOW!  Ok, I'm delusional. It's a Halloween wall hanging and it's obviously not going to get done in 3 days or however many days it is away.  BUT, and this but is about as big as mine, I think I can convert it to a winter or fall scene if I just leave out the bats.  Otherwise it is a tree that doesn't have any leaves on it with a moon in the background.  It's called Moon Rise and it should finish around 12 1/2".    It was offered for free from Connecting Threads.

I'll think on it more as I eat some beet hummus with red wine vinegar over the top.  That's a healthy snack right? Beets are healthy right?  Plus it's a pretty color.  LOL.

I'll update you later and in the meantime have a great weekend!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Update - forgot the picture

It's me again.  I forgot to add the picture of the three hummus dishes.  Left to right they would be:

beet - Italian - classic

I think that with a little more tweaking, the beet one would be great to take to a holiday party.  It already looks festive.  Has anybody tried to use some food coloring on a classic hummus?  It looks so pale it needs some decorations too.  LOL.

NOW I really do have to get back to work.  Bye.

My surprise gifts!!!!!!!

I was so surprised to find out that I was gifted 3 HAED cross stitch patterns.  They are part of the The Lady and The Unicorn series.  A couple of days ago I posted one of them up and that one was "touch".  Here are the ones that I received from Sue.  Thanks Sue!

Not sure when I'll get them into a rotation to do but I'm excited to get them.  So many patterns, no little time.  One thing is for sure...I'll never be bored!

I am typing this during my lunch hour so I need to stop soon.  Before I do, I wanted to mention that I made three types of hummus last night and brought them into work to taste.  I made Italian Hummus (which I already knew I love), classic hummus, and beet hummus. 

The Italian hummus is the best of the three.  I had some packets of Olive Oil Blend from Subway so I used half of one to dribble over the top of the Italian.  That turned out well.

I used the rest of the packet to put it over the Classic hummus which also enhanced it a bit.

My surprise was the beet hummus.   It certainly needed to be well chilled for the beet flavor to come out.  It still needed something so I search my office frig and found another Subway packet (I knew there was a reason I had taken those).  This one was a wine vinegar one.  I a little bit that over the beet hummus and think it worked out well.  I'm wondering what it would be like with a drizzle of ballistic vinegar on it.

Tonight or this weekend I will be making more pumpkin hummus.  :)  Yes I'm on a hummus kick.

Gotta get back to work now.  Have a great day!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Finishing an UFO - almost

It's a beautiful thing when you finish a UFO.  I am soon reaching that goal.  I have had a Happy Birthday Banner (table runner) for a bit now and only pick it up occasionally to work on.  In my reorganization, I found it again and opened it up.  Much to my surprise I am almost done with the top.  I only have the word Happy  to stitch down and then stitch the icing on one of the cupcakes.  That means I hope to have this UFO ALL done by the end of the month.  That will be a good feeling. 

I know that I posted my new cross stitch patterns the other day but I think that I forgot to post the set I picked up right before that.  I just love the cute dragons (like in Couch Dragon) that HAED offers.  Eventually I will get all of them.  They just make me smile and that, if for no other reason, is justification enough to get them.

That's about it for this posting.  The bells tolls and that means it is time to turn my attention to Excel Files, budgets, and work emails.  

I hope everybody has a good day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Cross Stitch Patterns for my collection

That's right.  I am starting to call my Cross Stitch patterns a collection.  Especially when they are from Heaven and Earth Designs.  Here are my latest.

I didn't forget about my quilting.  I did another fabric box but this time from different fabric and a different size.  I pulled out two 10" fabric pieces I had and sewed them.  The box is bigger and was easier to sew.  I could also sew the insides down more.  I am thinking that these might be nice to do in groups of 2 or 3 matching colors and give as a present.  What do you think?

Lunch time is over so I must get back to work.  Have a great day/evening!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ups and Downs of Normal Life

 Everybody has ups and downs and I am no exception.  This week has already seen some ups and downs from cooking to sewing.  In the cooking category the up portions were getting a bit more organized, crockpot cooking, making hummus, and stocking the freezer.  The down parts were having to do dishes (no dishwasher except for me) more often, alternating what to cook in my 2 crockpots, eating the hummus too quickly, and running out of room in the freezer.  I adjust though and carried on.  I only have the freezer which is part of my old refrigerator so I can only fit so many containers in it.  Guess that means I will be having more soups and such this coming week because I like to cook on Sundays.  New additions to the freezer have been

Ground Sirloin and mushroom marinara

black bean soup
15 bean soup
navy bean soup

(Do you get the idea I'm in a soup mood?)

My hummus didn't stick around long enough for me to freeze it.  I finally broke down and bought some tahini but only after I did some research on would it be cheaper to make it or to buy it and also found out that it can be frozen.  The cost to make it vs. buy it was about the same so I decided why make more work for myself so I bought the pre-made tahini.  Wouldn't you know that the first hummus I tried to make on my own didn't even use tahini?  It turned out great though.  If you need some ideas on different types of hummus to make here are a few that I found.


 You might have to download the pictures so you can enlarge them to read on how to make the hummus.  Off to the store to get the ingredients for the Italian hummus which turned out great!

While I was at the store, I decided to pick up some small containers of spices and knowing that some of the recipes only called for 1/4 teaspoon of certain spices I finally discovered jello shot containers with lids.  They were the perfect size to put my spices in.  The problem came when I tried to get off the top of the lids of the .5 oz size containers so that I could put the spice in its new home.  After spilling a lot of my allspice, I managed to figure it out and now have smaller, easier to use and see, containers.

Flushed with victory, I decided to try and do some sewing also.  This cat pattern (Pins and Paws from MSQC) is going to be a mini wall hanging for a friend for Christmas.

THEN I decided to push my luck and work on a small fabric box.  The instructions seemed easy enough.  I started and finished it last night.  I did have a small scare during the last step but I missed my finger so wasn't injured.

The fabric box started out around 8" and ended up around 3".  I have it in my office today and it is holding my paperclips.  The first pre-cut fabric (I was being lazy) my hands found was denim so I thought I'd use that.  It worked out great but by the time I was done hand sewing on buttons and the flaps down on the inside, my fingers were TIRED!  Tonight I will make one with lighter fabric and see how it goes.

This is a small size (3") but it is just the right size to hold my stork scissors as well as my larger clips.  I will experiment with different size squares and see how they turn out.

That's my report today.  I have to get back to work.  I do have a cute picture to share with you.  My friend Simon has an adorable puppy dog.  His name is Maximilian or Max.  This picture is taken at the vets office where he received a clean bill of health.  He now weighs 55.8 kg or 123 pounds.  Doesn't he look happy?

I hope that picture made you smile.  I know that I smile whenever I look at it.  Have a great day everybody!