Friday, January 31, 2014

A Look Ahead at February

I’ve got a few things planned to work on during February. It’s a short month so I hope I can get them done!

First, I’m going to be linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes 2014 for February over at Fabric of All Sorts. My finish for February will be the top to my Sawtooth Cats quilt from The City Stitcher, designed by Janet Miller.

I have had this pattern for years, and I just started it last spring. I still have to finish hand appliquéing the cat bodies to the paper pieced backs. I have some of the background fabric, and the rest on order, so as soon as I get the appliqué done and the fabric all gets here, I can get it pieced. I will also need to paper piece the borders. It’s pretty ambitious for me, but I’m hoping to get it all done by the end of the month.

I’m also going to work on the Scrappy Challenge 2014 over at Patchwork Times. As soon as I see the block for February, I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with it. I do know I will be making a potholder with the block…we’ll see if I have the time to make something more.

For my NewFO 2014 project for February over at Cat Patches, I will start this Family Tree Wall Hanging from Keepsake Quilting:

I’ve had this kit (in fact I have two) for many years. I’m going to make this one with my husband’s family. The other kit I will make with my family. I actually hope I’ll be able to finish this one during the month. I doubt I’ll get them both done. As long as I start one of them, I’m good.

Finally, I’d like to finish the sweater I’m knitting.

It’s a really simple stockinette stitch pattern and I’ve just been working on it forever. I really need to push myself hard to work on this and get it done.

That’s it. So what’s on your to-do list for February?

NewFO Challenge 2014 - January

This is my first time linking up with the NewFO Challenge. My NewFO for January 2014 is the Hello Moon quilt-along over at April Mae Designs. I cut and fused all the appliqué pieces onto the background pieces for all the blocks. I haven’t decided yet where I’m going with it from here. I don’t know if I want to stitch down the appliqués when I quilt it or before. I don’t know yet what to do for the sashings and borders, plus I won’t be able to quilt it for another month or two anyway. Once I find sashing I like and a backing, I’ll get moving on it again. So, this is going to be set aside for a while until I figure out what to do with it!

This month I also started (and finished) my project for the Scrappy Challenge 2014 over at Patchwork Times. You can check out what everyone is doing for the Challenge here. I made this potholder using the January block:

The last NewFO I started in January is a baby quilt I’m calling Hugs & Kisses. I completed the top without borders and it just kind of sat there. I put up some scrappy borders to see how it would look and I love it. So, I still need to put the borders on it, then baste, quilt, and bind it. I found the perfect backing for it, so once I order that fabric I’ll be able to finish it. Here is the top with the borders (not attached, just up on the design wall):

I’m linking up over at Cat Patches for the January NewFO Challenge. Check out what everyone is doing over there.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Be Prepared – Part 5

A big problem for my family – and I’m sure others as well – is the thought of running out of fresh food during an emergency and not being able to get to the store to replenish our supply. We would be fine drinking just water, but families who want milk might need to have dried milk on hand, just in case. However, make sure your family will actually drink it before you store it.

For our family, running out of fresh produce and bread would be a problem. If you have a garden, even a small one, you could get by for a while if your emergency occurred during the summer months. But during the winter, unless you have a greenhouse (we don’t – yet!), you might be out of luck. We usually have sprouts growing year round so we always have some fresh greens.

We generally use our sprouts on sandwiches in place of lettuce, and on salads; but I also eat them on crackers or with bread. They are extremely easy to grow and take up very little space on my kitchen counter (and I have a SMALL kitchen). They are also packed with nutrients. Our sprouts are a combination of broccoli, alfalfa, radish, clover, and fenugreek. You can generally buy sprouting seeds at a nutrition store or on-line. I use the “jar on the counter” method, using a wide mouthed quart jar with cheesecloth covering the top (held down by two large rubber bands). I rinse them twice a day, and in about 5 days or so I have a batch of sprouts ready to eat. I have used several other sprouting jars/methods, but this one works best for me.

If you start sprouting, be sure to wash your hands prior to dealing with the sprouts, and rinse with fresh water and be sure to drain the water out well each time you rinse. When my sprouts are ready I rinse them several times in a bowl to remove the seed hulls, and then store them in the refrigerator. I’m glad to know we can have some fresh foods even when we can’t make it to the store.

I also bake bread for my family. I don’t make all our bread yet – I still usually buy sandwich bread; but I do buy wheat berries in bulk and grind them into flour to make all our other baked goods. I have both an electric grain mill and a hand crank grain mill, so I’m set if the power goes out for long.

We are just thawing out from the snow/ice mess that hit the Southeast, and I saw several people being interviewed on the news saying they needed to get out and get bread and milk, but couldn’t make it due to the weather. The weather forecast was rather accurate for our area, yet they did without rather than prepare prior to the storm. Having the 50 pound containers of wheat is actually quite reassuring for me; I know even if I can’t get to the store we can still have bread, muffins, pancakes, etc. If your family cannot do without bread and other baked items, you might want to have extra ingredients handy so you can make bread at home rather than do without.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Be Prepared – Part 4

The easiest items to store for an emergency, in my opinion, are canned goods. They stack easily, no need for refrigeration, and they last for a long time…whether you can your own or buy it from the store. So that’s where I start when I’m storing food for an emergency.

First thing, make sure you are only storing items you (and/or your family) will eat. There is no sense in buying something to store because it was on sale, if your family won’t eat it…even in an emergency. Besides, during a stressful time – whether it’s an illness, power outage, winter weather, or a more severe or long term emergency – we want everyone to be as comfortable as possible, and familiar foods is part of that comfort. You don’t want to try out new foods on your family in an emergency.

I do not (yet) can my own food. That is something I intend to start this summer. I will be on the lookout for canning supplies so I can put up some of our vegetables from the garden we’re planting this spring. But I don’t have a large enough space to grow and can enough food to feed us for a year to get through to the next harvest season. So, I will at least supplement our canning with store bought canned items. 

Another way to store your fresh foods is dehydrating. I haven’t done that yet either, but I would like to try it and that will help in our emergency food provisions.

I always like to have cans of soup on hand. I know that my husband and I can share a can of soup for lunch and that will be enough (especially if I also have crackers or bread on hand). If I have 8 cans of soup stored, I know I have 8 meals. So, determine how many servings you will get from your canned goods to determine how many you would need for a meal. You may need 2 or 3 cans to equal one meal for your family. Then determine how many cans you need for the time frame you are preparing for.

Some of the items I like to make sure I have on hand are: canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fruit/applesauce, canned meat (tuna), canned beans (especially ready to heat and serve baked beans), microwaveable ready to heat rice, spaghetti and sauces, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars, and cereal. There are a lot more items you can keep on hand, just make sure they are items your family will actually eat. We don’t eat canned meat other than tuna, so it won't make sense for me to store canned chicken. But if your family likes it, buy it.

One thing I buy for storage that we don’t generally eat is canned vegetables. We usually eat fresh or frozen. But I do store canned vegetables that we will eat…such as green beans and peas. No lima beans here! Sorry!

Another thing I try to do is buy smaller portioned items to store. For example, snack pack/individual serving sizes of items like applesauce or fruit cups. I don’t want to have to worry about trying to keep leftovers fresh, particularly if the emergency is a power outage and there is no refrigeration.

For cooking, we have a propane camp stove, plus we have a travel trailer with propane for cooking. Always think of safety when cooking during an emergency and read the instructions on your cooking equipment before using. We also can use our charcoal grill (always outside) to cook if necessary. During a winter emergency, we have a wood stove in our fireplace where we can cook our food.

Just be sure everything you have on hand is something your family will eat. Also remember to switch out your canned goods occasionally. If you store five jars of peanut butter and you find some on sale, pick it up and put it to the back of your P.B. jars. Then pull the one in front to use now.

Tomorrow I will talk about how to have fresh food during an emergency when you can’t make it to the store.

Snow in East TN

The 3+ inches of snow in my front yard in East Tennessee is lovely this morning. The 4 degree temperature? Not so much!

I hope everyone is staying warm today!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Celtic Solstice Part 1 Done

I finally finished the piecing for Part 1 of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery, Celtic Solstice. Here are the pieces ready for the next step. I went ahead and sewed the blue/orange pieces together for the outer border.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yummy Crock Pot Baked Beans

Here's my recipe for some Yummy Crock Pot Baked Beans. I use a 6.5 quart crock pot. You can adjust the ingredients to suit your family's tastes.

3   28 oz. cans of baked beans (including liquid)
½ cup BBQ sauce
½ onion diced
1 bell pepper diced
2 cayenne peppers diced
1+ Tbs. spicy mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Spray large (6-7 quart) crock pot with non-stick spray. Add all ingredients and stir to mix well. Cook in crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

For a smaller 4-5 quart crock pot use 2 cans of beans, and adjust other ingredients to your liking.

Monday Menu Planner

It’s going to be COLD again this week. I usually like the cold of winter here in East Tennessee, but this year has been so bitterly cold at times. I’m so ready for spring! Here’s what we have planned for our meals this week:

Monday:    Chicken & Pasta with Alfredo sauce and broccoli

Tuesday:   Chili Cheese Fries – Chili beans from the crock pot a couple of weeks ago, and we have potatoes we need to use up. Plus it’s only going to be in the 20s for a high on Tuesday. Nice and toasty meal.

Wednesday:      Mexican Spaghetti

Thursday: Waffles with berries – I make whole grain waffles, grinding my wheat before mixing the batter

Friday:      Pizza night

Saturday: Fish with Yummy Crock Pot Beans and vegetables/salad

Sunday:    Skating afternoon, so we’re having soup and sandwiches

I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes 2014 Finishes Party

A Lovely Year of Finishes 2014 - January Finish

I was able to complete my goal for ALYoF in January. I was #203 at the Linky Party for January goals. I finished the top to Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 mystery, Easy Street. Finally! That’s now set aside and maybe I’ll quilt it later this year. We’ll see. Now I need to figure out what to finish for February…so many choices! Here’s my quilt top:

Head on over to the January Finishes Linky Party here.

Stash Report 2014 Week 4

This week is easy…nothing in and nothing out. I plan to go fabric shopping next week though, so things will be changing! Head over to Patchwork Times to see what others are doing.

Used year to date:    16.0 yards
Used this week:         0 yards
Added year to date:  0 yards
Added this week:       0 yards

Total net used 2014: 16.0 yards

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Friday!

I didn’t get a lot accomplished in the sewing room this week. I had hoped to put borders on the baby quilt that is on my design wall, but it has just been too cold here (just like everywhere else!) to hang out in the basement and sew. I was out running my errands this morning in single digit temperatures, and it’s just a bit much for this Southern California girl! It looks like next week is going to be more of the same here, so I have been contemplating bringing the sewing machine upstairs to the dining room and taking over the table. We’ll see.  

I did brave the temps (and turned on my little space heater) and worked on Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice yesterday. I did a little bit of each step as they were released, and when I saw the finished quilt I was really glad I went ahead and started this one. I think it is lovely. So, I need to go back to each step and complete all the piecing. Yesterday I finished the blue/orange triangle units from Part 1. I still need to trim some down and remove the paper (I’m doing the paper piecing method), and I also need to do more of the blue/neutral units. Since the blue/orange units make up the outer border of the quilt, my hope is to finish trimming the blue/orange units and sewing them together this weekend. Then I’ll work on finishing the blue/neutral units. Here’s where I left it yesterday:

Since it has been so cold, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time upstairs knitting. I started a pullover sweater last winter and had problems with my hands (carpel tunnel from my days as a secretary), so I put it up. I picked it up again this winter and things are going much better with my hands, so I’m hoping to get it finished in time to actually wear it this winter! I’m over halfway done, then I’ll need to knit the neck. It’s a cowl neck-ish thing, but I think I will just make a shorter mock turtleneck. I’ll probably work on that more this afternoon. Here’s where I’m at with the sweater:

I’ll probably spend some quality time with the cat bundled up on the couch this afternoon too. I have many, many books to read. I have three from the library, plus three more e-books from the library on my Kindle. I also started re-reading The Tightwad Gazette this past weekend. Right now on my Kindle I have Silence in Hanover Close (Anne Perry), Zealot (Reza Aslan), and Keepsake Crimes (Laura Childs). I’ve read all the Anne Perry books with Thomas & Charlotte Pitt already, but it’s been a while and I do enjoy them. I’m also reading Bones of a Feather (Carolyn Haines) and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (Katherine Howe). Today I picked up Donna Andrews’ new book Duck the Halls. All of these should be pretty fast reads for me, except Zealot, and I’ve never read Katherine Howe’s books so I don’t know how quickly that will go. I usually can get through books pretty quickly, so if I get bogged down I rarely have patience to finish it. We’ll see what happens.

I hope you all stay warm and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Be Prepared – Part 3

First an update on last week’s post…I only picked up one extra pack of water, so I still need to get at least one more 24 pack of water for our drinking water. I’ll take care of that this week. I also picked up some 4-packs of tuna since it was on sale. We now have 4 cans in storage for an emergency. I also picked up some paper goods, which is something I’ll cover today.

As I said at the beginning of this series, I’m not necessarily preparing for the breakdown of society or a long term siege. I will store as much as I can…but I don’t have a lot of storage space at my home. So my purpose in emergency preparation is for the possibility of sudden illness or injury, or unexpected severe winter weather, and we find we’re out of certain items and cannot make it to the store. In my opinion, those are the most likely occurrences my family might face.

Along with food and water, I like to make certain I have plenty of paper goods and sundry items on hand. I have been in the position of the flu hitting our family and we’re down to half a box of tissues. I don’t like it when other people go to the grocery store sick, and I don’t like to go the grocery store sick. So I now work very hard at making certain we don’t run out of those types of items.

This week at the store I was able to pick up several items to put into my storage closet along with my stored food. I picked up an 8-pack of paper towels (on sale for $6), some handi-wipes, and a package of 80 plastic 9-ounce cups (total cost was just under $10). I also had extra tissues, so I stuck one box in there as well. Most of these items may not be necessary for an illness, but if we are stuck at our home due to a weather (or other) emergency and need to start using our stored water, I do not want to waste the water washing dishes. Therefore, I like to have plenty of paper plates, etc., just in case. I also like the idea of using handi-wipes for cleaning up rather than using water all the time for washing.

The easiest way I have found to make sure I have plenty of paper goods on hand is to put it on my shopping list as soon as I open the last pack. For example, if I open the last pack of paper plates, I put it on the list and buy it next time I’m at the store. At least I know I will not run out if I can’t make it to the store for more. This is what I do for pretty much all my sundry items and toiletries such as soap and toothpaste, over-the-counter meds, and paper goods. When I start a new bottle of laundry detergent, I put it on the list and buy it next time at the store. Same for anything in the medicine cabinet like ibuprofen.

There are only a few exceptions to opening one/buying one for me. I always pick up a pack of toilet paper when it’s on sale, whether we have one or five packs. Usually I have two or three packs in my laundry room, but I am of the opinion you can never have too much T.P. J  Another exception is cold medicines. If you don’t use over-the-counter cold/flu medicines, fine, but we do. So in the fall I check what’s in my medicine cabinet. If we have unopened cold/flu medicine from the previous season that won’t expire before the following spring, I’m good. Otherwise, I always buy a new bottle of cold/flu medicine in the fall before cold and flu season hits. Like I said, one of the emergencies I am preparing for is a sudden illness, so I want to have the medicine at the house when I need it. If you use over-the-counter medicines or herbal medicines or home remedies for colds and flu, you might consider making sure you have everything on hand BEFORE you need it.

Those are the major non-food items I worry about. Along with that, it is also a good idea to make sure you have any prescriptions you may need, along with a good first aid kit with any over-the-counter items you like. Be sure to check them at least once a year and get rid of the expired medicines. Otherwise, it would be wise to be sure to have the items normally mentioned regarding emergency preparedness, such as: extra batteries and flashlights, radio or weather radio, extra blankets in case of power outage in the winter. You can check either your state emergency preparedness website or the U.S. government emergency preparedness website for more ideas.

Next time I’ll talk about what foods I like to store.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Design Wall Monday

This baby quilt is on my design wall. I thought I was finished with the top on Friday, but Sunday I put up the border strips to see how it looks. I think I like it much better than just the plain solid color. So, this week I will probably be putting on the borders on this top…then the top will be done J. Head over to Patchwork Times to see what others are working on.

Monday Menu Planner

This week is a pretty simple week for food here…

Monday:            Sauté vegetables and pasta
Tuesday:           Egg burritos
Wednesday:      Vegetable fajitas and beans
Thursday:         Homemade Mac & Cheese, salad
Friday:              Pizza & salad
Saturday:         Fish, baked beans, & veggies
Sunday:            Soup & Sandwiches

What’s for dinner at your house?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stash Report

Stash Report Week 3 - 2014

I worked on a couple of things this week, but the only completion was a baby quilt top shown below. So, for 2014:

Used this week:         1.5 yards
Used year to date:    16.0 yards
Added this week:       0 yards
Added year to date:  0 yards
Total net used:          16.0 yards

I’m linking up with the Stash Report over at Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's Up?

I finished my UFO for the month to link up with A Lovely Year of Finishes later in January, and I’ve reached a stopping point on my NewFO for the month for the 2014 NewFO Challenge. So, Monday I started cleaning up (and out) my sewing room. Before Christmas I moved my sewing machine into the sunroom where I had two 6-foot tables to work on and finish quilting a quilt for a gift. My sewing room table then became Christmas Wrapping Central and junk drop-off for the family. So I finally got the Christmas wrap and goodies put away, and I got some of the mess cleaned up. I still have a ways to go, but I can see the floor, and the closet in there is all organized. I need to go through my fabric shelves and straighten them out (they’re a mess from pulling fabrics from halfway down the stack, etc.), and I need to generally put things back where they belong.

While going through stuff, I ran across a bag with a fleece rag quilt kit in it. My daughter got this at Joann’s about 10 years ago and started sewing it (it’s one of those with the pre-cut fleece squares that you just have to put together). She got all the rows sewed together. I decided sitting in the bag it was just useless stuff taking up space, so I took it to the sewing machine and sewed the rows together. It’s now a pretty little fleece blanket that can be used (at least by the cats!). Plus I got a little bit more space in the sewing room. So now I’m on a mission…to find more quickie projects like that to go from being “useless stuff taking up space” to being something useful.

Here’s the rag quilt:


Be Prepared - Part 2

This week I’m going to focus on having plenty of water available for whatever emergency may hit our home. But how much water is enough? I said last time that I’m preparing more for the probability of an illness hitting our home and not being able to make my weekly shopping trip, or a winter storm that ends up a little harsher than expected and not being able to get to the store. But I think if you ask some residents of West Virginia who just had a chemical spill into their water supply last week, they would tell you that you can never have enough water! According to the US government’s emergency preparedness information, you should plan on one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. So that’s where I will start.

If you have your own safe source of drinking water (i.e. a well), or you have water tanks in which you could store extra water, that’s great. We do have a travel trailer for camping, so if we were aware ahead of time that we were going to be without water, we would be able to fill the water tank in the trailer to have an additional 40 gallons. But usually, you don’t have fair warning of an emergency.

I know that on a normal day, my family tries to each drink about two to three 16.9 ounce water bottles, along with anything else we might drink. Yes, I know they are an environmentalist’s nightmare, but this is what we do for much of our drinking water, along with filtered water in the fridge. We also recycle everything possible. Anyway, in an emergency, I would figure that we would probably need to each have four bottles per day minimum; that would be presuming the power being out and not drinking milk and juice, etc. So that’s eight bottles per day in my home just for drinking. I have two 24 packs of water stored right now, and I usually have an additional one or two in the house for us to drink. But for emergency purposes, I’ll consider the two packs only. That’s six days of water. After witnessing the mess in West Virginia, I think I will work on doubling that this week. If the bottles are on sale I’ll pick up two more packs (that would be $5 on sale for two). If not I’ll just get one pack ($3 regular price) each week for the next two weeks. That would give me four packs to store and 12 days of drinking water available by the end of the month.

Another consideration in our home is our pets. We have two (large) dogs and two cats. I know from our camping experience with the dogs, that together they go through about one gallon of water each day. I usually buy gallon jugs of water at the store at the beginning of camping season and use those, then refill them for each subsequent camping trip from the tap at home. The dogs are used to the tap water at home, and we don’t want any problems they might encounter from drinking the water at campgrounds. Though the water is not dangerous, it may also contain chemicals (or amounts of chemicals) they aren’t used to and it may cause stomach upset. And though the cats have their own water dish, they usually drink out of the dogs’ water dish. So, for the four pets, I would consider at least one gallon for all of them each day for drinking.

We also need to consider water for sanitation/cleaning if we have no clean source of water. I am planning on one gallon per day for my home for that purpose. That would probably be too much, but I’d rather be prepared than not. I do not intend to wash dishes during an emergency where the water is off or dangerous to use, so really the water would be for washing up and maybe cleaning a cooking pot. I would intend to use disposable dishes during this type of emergency, so the water can be used for drinking.

Right now I have 12 gallons of water stored. That’s a combination of new gallon jugs from the store, and gallon jugs I’ve refilled with tap water. I will need to get more because those 12 gallons would need to cover the pets plus cleaning/sanitation needs. I will probably try to pick up an additional gallon of water each week at the grocery store. In a few months we should be set on water.

I will cover non-food items I want to have on hand next week.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Menu Planner

We may have family in town at the end of the week so we may end up eating out rather than at home; however, this is what I have planned:

Monday:    Lasagna, broccoli, homemade whole grain rolls
Tuesday:   Pancakes with blueberries
Wednesday:      Crock pot chili beans and cornbread with fruit or salad (it’s supposed to be snowy, so chili will be yummy)
Thursday: Quiche with veggies in it, and fruit
Friday:      Pizza
Saturday: Fish, rice, veggies
Sunday:    Soup & Sandwiches

What’s for dinner at your house?

Design Wall Monday

Design Wall Monday for January 13, 2014

The blocks for the Hello Moon quilt along at April Mae Designs have been on my design wall this week. I finished fusing the appliqué pieces onto the backgrounds. I think this will be set aside for a bit while I figure out how I want to finish it.

Head over to Patchwork Times to check out more design walls.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stash Report Week 2 of 2014

I completed the top to Easy Street, Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 mystery. I looked back through the original instructions and it calls for 14.25 yards total to make the top, so that’s what I’m going with. That’s all I finished this week, and I didn’t add any fabric. So far for 2014:

Used this week:         14.25 yards
Used year to date:    14.50 yards
Added this week:       0 yards
Added year to date:  0 yards
Total net used:          14.50

I’m linking up with the Stash Report over at Patchwork Times.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Progress

I’m moving along on my projects this month. I completed the Scrappy Challenge at Patchwork Times for January. I’m making it easy on myself and just planning on working one block of the challenge, then making a potholder with it. If something strikes my fancy and I want to make more of the blocks, I will, but I’m not going to plan for it. I can always go back later in the year and make a quilt or other project from blocks I enjoy making. Here’s my potholder:

It’s hanging in my kitchen right now J

I’ve also started my New FO project for January…2013 Hello Moon quilt-along blocks from April Mae Designs. I’m doing all the blocks at once and so far I’ve gotten all the appliqué pieces fused on eight of the blocks. This weekend I hope to finish fusing the appliqué onto the remaining four blocks. Once that is done I will probably set it aside. I can’t decide if I want to do the machine embroidery as part of the quilting or before I put the quilt together.  The 2014 New FO Challenge can be found at Cat Patches.  Here’s what I have done so far:

I’ve also finished my January UFO for the 2014 A Lovely Year of Finishes. It is the top to Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 Mystery, Easy Street. It’s been a huge stretch for me.  The colors are not what I usually use, I don’t usually make quilts with a gazillion different little pieces, and I’ve never made a quilt with the blocks on point (LONG diagonal seams). It’s been good for me and it has taken me way out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad it’s nearly done. It’s turned out to be much nicer than I could have hoped for. I have folded that one up and put it away. I know the first border I want to put on it, but after that I’m not sure, so I need it to rest for a while. Here’s my Easy Street top:

Sorry for the orientation...I am having some problems today with the photos and it's not wanting to appear properly.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes 2014

January Goal

This will be my first time participating in A Lovely Year of Finishes. I really want to clear out my UFOs and I think this will make me more accountable.

For January my goal is to finish the top on the 2012 mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter, Easy Street. I don’t plan on putting borders on it yet (cuz I’m not sure what I want to do) and I’m not quilting/binding it yet. But I want the blocks all put together so I can set it aside for a bit and not have to worry about pieces getting lost! Maybe later in the year completing it will be another goal I set!


Be Prepared - Part 1

I grew up in Southern California where earthquakes can hit at any time. My family never really was “prepared” for natural disasters as far as having a stockpile of food, etc. My mom was the kind of person who ran to the store nearly every day to get something for dinner that night. We usually had plenty of flashlights and transistor radios because we went camping a lot, but if a major earthquake hit we were kind of out of luck in the food department. When my husband and I were still living in California, at the time my daughter was 6 months old, a major earthquake hit near my parents house (not where I grew up, but where they were then living in the California desert). They were literally about a quarter-mile from the epicenter. Their home was seriously damaged. They had spots on their property that were shifted vertically about 3-4 feet. Fortunately for them, they were not seriously hurt, and because they lived so far from the nearest town they always had extra food at the house. The main highway to town buckled during the earthquake, so it was impassable for several days, so they couldn’t have gone to the store for food even if they needed to.

We were living a couple of hours’ drive from my parents at that time, and we felt the earthquake at our house. In fact, our house was the middle of five houses on the street that received cracks running across the driveways from that earthquake. It was a big shaker (over 7.0). After seeing the devastation at my parents’ house and the loss of power for a week or so (therefore, the loss of the food in the fridge and chest freezer), I decided I needed to do something to make sure we were prepared if something like that happened. Seriously, we lived alongside the San Andreas Fault…we needed to do something to prepare. So, I PREPARED! I must have packed about 10 or 12 of the large Rubbermaid containers with food and everything else we might need if we had an emergency. They were lined up along the back wall of our house. Really pretty picture, huh?

Since that time, I have never been nearly so prepared. Since then we’ve lived in Houston, where the big problem might be a hurricane, in which case we would evacuate; and now we’re in lovely East Tennessee. Here the biggest natural disaster we might encounter would be a serious blizzard, which hasn’t happened since before we moved here 17 years ago. I usually make sure we have a stockpile of food in case more snow falls than is expected, but I really haven’t kept up with it very well for the past few years. That’s about to change…

Everyone will have their own reasons and methods of preparing for an emergency, based on where they live and what they think may happen in the world; but I’m going to start a concerted effort to make sure I’m well prepared for at least a week of not leaving the house. Though there could be some political upheaval or other event that would necessitate a longer time at home, the more likely scenario here is a winter storm that dumps more ice or snow than expected, or injury or illness in our home. If I can build up a month or more of food that’s great, but I’m going to concentrate on living for a week without leaving the house (which we kind of do already, since I try not to go to the store more than once a week, but this would be an additional week’s worth of food). So if I wake up sick on the morning I plan on doing the grocery shopping, it will be nice to know that we have things to eat without leaving the house.

So, over the next few months I’ll be writing about what I’m working on for our preparedness and what things are important in our home to prepare to be “prepared”.

One of the first things to consider when getting your family prepared for an emergency is to determine how many you are preparing for. Everyone should prepare for their own family, and not think that they could just wander over to the neighbors’ for a week if there was an emergency. Everyone needs to be responsible for themselves. Certainly neighbors will help neighbors in an emergency, but above all it is just discourteous to expect to have someone else bail you out because you didn’t prepare. Plus, you’re taking away food and supplies that family purchased with their money for their family members. It’s just kind of rude to take from them. {OK, off my little soapbox.}

In my family I am primarily preparing for my husband and myself, plus our 2 dogs and 2 cats (don’t forget the pets!). Our daughter is generally out of town and we have another close family member who lives a mile away, and I will plan for extras for both of them; but my primary focus is on who is most likely to be in this house at the time we get hit with an illness or when there’s an emergency when the roads are impassable and daughter and family member cannot make it here. If you usually have guests at your house (perhaps on a monthly basis), then you might want to prepare for that possibility. But by and large, focus on who generally resides at your home.

One thing I suggest is to make sure your regular pantry is well stocked before you start storing away food for an emergency. What I like to do is have extra of the things I use most. We usually have something with spaghetti sauce each week, so I generally have 2 cans on the pantry shelf. When I use one, I write that down on the shopping list so the next time I’m at the store I pick up another and we again have 2 cans. With this method I can skip a week of buying one and still have a can of sauce available. The same thing with soup…we usually have several cans of soup on the shelf. One can will feed my husband and me for lunch, so I try to keep about 4 cans on the shelf. Those are really simple examples, but our tastes run simple, and in an emergency that will do.

At the moment, my stored food stock is very low, but I have plenty of extras on the regular pantry shelves to get us through an extra week. This fall I made a big effort to start storing food for the pets. It was just something I wanted to get done, then not have to worry about it. I now have over a week’s worth of food stored away for all of them, along with about another two week’s worth of food in the pantry for them. When I go to the store now, I usually still pick up a week’s worth of cans of cat food, that way we just won’t run low.

When I do start stocking up to store extra food, there are several ways I go about it. First, I buy what my family will eat. Don’t buy 5 cans of beets because they are on sale for 20 cents a can if your family won’t eat them. That $1 would be enough for food for a day for our two cats. The most obvious way of stocking up is when something is on sale I buy more than what I planned on buying. So if I was going to buy a can of baked beans for this week’s menu, and they are on sale, I’ll pick up an extra one (or two, depending on the price) to stick with our stock of food. Another thing I do with our stored food is to buy small portions. For example, instead of buying a large jar of applesauce to store, I pick up a package of the individual cups of applesauce. That way you don’t have a large jar of applesauce that might need refrigerating, but you have no power.

The method I usually use when stocking up is setting aside $5 or $10 per shopping trip to buy items to store. If packs of 24 bottles of water are on sale for $2.50, I might buy 4 packs and that will be all I pick up that week to store. With that one purchase, I’ve made a big addition to my stored water supply. If you are just starting out, you might want to spread out the items you buy. You might buy a pack of water for $2.50, a four-pack of condensed soup for $3.00, some applesauce for a couple of dollars, then a few cans of beans to add up to your $10. That could cover a couple of meals for your family right there.

Another method of stocking up, which I don’t usually do (but have on occasion) is to make a list of all the items you want to store, then go out and just buy them all at once (or over a few shopping trips). This really doesn’t work for me financially, but if it works for you, that’s great. You’ll be ready in one fell swoop!

Next time I’ll talk about water and non-food items you might want to stock up on, and I’ll let you know how I’m progressing in my food storage.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stash Report

I love to read Judy’s blog at Patchwork Times, and I’ve decided to follow along with her Stash Report this year.  This is my first Stash Report, and my first link-up, so hopefully it will work!

I’ve bought nothing this past week (yay me!!), and I’ve used very little. But every little bit counts!  I’ve used about 1/4 yard for the Scrappy Challenge project. I made a potholder – woo hoo! I’m hoping to finish up a couple of big projects soon so I have more to report.

My goal this year is to use up lots of my old fabrics that have been sitting on my shelves, so I think the Stash Report will help me keep at it.

It’s good to start off the year in the black. Now if I can just stay away from the fabric stores…

Menu Plan for the Week of January 6

Things are getting back to normal around here with daughter gone and the holidays behind us. We didn’t change up the menu much last week once it was planned. We’ll see how this week goes. We are having some pretty harsh (for us) winter weather here this week, with temps below 20 for highs a few days and even single digit temps in the morning. So, it’s time to break out the warm yummies! Hubby will be starting skating again Sunday afternoons this week, so we’re back to soup and sandwiches then. Here’s what’s for dinner this week:

Monday – Chicken Alfredo with broccoli, salad, and leftover homemade bread

Tuesday – Egg Burritos

Wednesday – Mexican Spaghetti (something I grew up eating, basically taco meat mixed with cooked spaghetti noodles, a can of tomato soup, some El Pato sauce, topped with cheese, and baked)

Thursday – Baked Potato Soup, plus I’ll probably bake some more bread or rolls

Friday – pizza (probably frozen; I need to start making it from scratch again)

Saturday – fish (not sure what kind yet), probably baked beans, and salad

Sunday – Soup and Sandwiches

Friday, January 3, 2014

January Reading

On my Kindle I have another Anne Perry novel, Death in Devil’s Acre. I’ve also downloaded a bunch of free Kindle books about business and blogging.

The “real” books I have on my nightstand include Forks Over Knives (I got both the companion book to the documentary and the cookbook for my husband for Christmas). We’re leaning in that direction for our diet. Our daughter has been a vegetarian for 10+ years, so we have removed a lot of meat from our diets, and we’ve cut WAY back on dairy recently. We’ll see how inspired I am by reading the book after watching the documentary.

I also checked out a few books from the library last week, including The Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page, Supernatural by Colin Wilson, and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Several people have told me how great The Gift of Fear is, but I’ve not started reading it yet. I’ll let you know.

What are you reading this month?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Scrappy Challenge

Today starts the Scrappy Challenge at Patchwork Times  Judy will release a block pattern at the beginning of each month and the purpose is to use up your scraps, complete a project by the end of the month, and hopefully learn something new. Your project is to complete a project using that month’s block, whether you make a potholder, wall hanging, table runner, or full-blown quilt. The plan is not to have an additional UFO at the end of the month, but to complete the project using that block.

I’ve decided that if I follow along, I will probably make a bunch of blocks that I’ve never tried before, use up fabric scraps, and have some completed projects. To make it easy on myself, I’ve decided that each month I’m just going to plan on making a potholder. Not a lot of time commitment, and not a lot of work, but I’ll get practice at sewing a lot of different blocks. This morning I made the block released for January. I’m going to finish quilting it today and hopefully bind it by tomorrow. I will have to think about how I want to finish off a hanging loop, but here’s the completed block waiting to be quilted…chickens!