Saturday, December 27, 2014

Money pads...

I thought I'd show how I dressed up the boys' gifts this year.  Money is the same old, same old Christmas gift for them...but it's easy for me, and always happily received by them.  But just so it's not completely boring, I like for there to be some element of surprise as to how it's presented.  There was the year of the origame 'candy' box.  And last year I tucked Chandler's into a box of beef jerky, and Bobby's into a jar of candy.  

This year I thought I'd make a pad of money that they can peel a few bills from as needed.  I actually thought about it early, and went by the bank a couple of months ago for crisp, uncirculated $1 bills.  I also ordered padding compound...not sure the link is the one I bought, but it had a nice photo that shows the process, so I linked it.  The amount used is miniscule, so I'm going to have to make a lot of notepads or something.

I used some chipboard cut to the size of the bills to give it a firm back.  I just stacked the bills and the chipboard and clamped them with binder clips.  Then I painted the padding compound on the left end.  

After it dried, I cut some patterned paper a little longer so that it would wrap around the bound end, and I used double-sided tape to adhere the patterned paper to the back.  That way none of the bills were damaged, and the cover will stay on even after bills are peeled off.

 I designed the cover labels on the computer and printed them out in Christmas colors.  Chandler got his license this year, so I labeled his 'Ga$ Money.'  I cut an oval out of one cover so that George Washington's face from the top bill showed through.

I also knit each of the boys a cap.  I tucked their money pads into the appropriate kid's cap and wrapped them up.  

When they opened them, they were gratifyingly impressed with the concept of a pad of money.  They weren't sure it was real money.  I assured them that it was and that it would be accepted anywhere they chose to spend it.  

And they were all gracious enough to pose in their knit caps for a quick photo.  Uncle Jared (far right) got in the photo too since he was wearing the same cap which I made for him a couple of months ago.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wishing you a Merry Christmas...

The kids asked for my Chicken and Dumplings for Christmas Dinner.  Sounded fine with me.  It's something I can actually accomplish in my makeshift kitchen set up.  At least the prep work.  I'll finish it up tomorrow at Kasey's on her stove top.

 There will be ten of us (three of whom are teenage boys), so I thought I'd use three chickens.  I put two in the slow cooker before I went to bed last night.  When I got up this morning I took them out to cool and strained the stock.  Then I put in the last chicken to cook and make another batch of stock.  That should give us plenty to feed the crowd. 

 Boning chicken is not my favorite job, especially when there's a lot of it to do.  By the end my back and shoulders are cramping.  I've tried letting my husband and son help, but they aren't as particular about picking out every last bit of the skin and gristle. Drives me crazy, so I do it myself. 

 Doing it in two batches today wasn't so bad.  It let my back relax and recover between batches.  I'm always so happy to see the bones and skin (left) separated from the meat (right).  

Now the meat and stock are in the refrigerator waiting for tomorrow.  I'll assemble the dumpling's dry ingredients tonight.  Finishing up tomorrow should be a breeze.

I still have wrapping to do.  ...sigh...  Why do I always leave it till Christmas Eve?  I also have to finish assembling the 'packaging' of the boys' money gifts.

I hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kitchen remodel progress...

I apologize for the rotten photos.  The kitchen window makes it very difficult to get a decently lit shot.

Dark brown painted cabinets and a GINORMOUS island.  It seems like such a long time ago that it looked like this.  Baby steps.

After deconstruction complete...
This is what the kitchen has looked like for the past several weeks...empty...hollow...cavernous.  The white walls are areas that were covered with cabinets before, and the horizontal stripe around the room is where Carey had to rip off the slate backsplash.  On the far left you can see there is no horizontal stripe.  That's where removal of the backsplash was so difficult that the drywall had to be replaced in that section.

Top cabinets in...
Yesterday morning the lone installer (I thought there would be two or three at least) arrived and began work on the upper cabinets.  By evening they were all in place, except for the one over the refrigerator space which was the wrong size.  We'll have to wait for a replacement, but over the fridge is not an inconvenient one to do without for awhile.

After the installer left for the day, Carey and I painted the walls on either side of the window.  There will be open shelving from the window to the cabinets on the left and right.  It was such a small area, that I figured it would be quicker and easier to paint before the bottom cabinets went in.

Bottom cabinets in...
This morning the installer was back on the job, and by five o'clock he was done.  At long last...tangible progress!

Now that all the bottom cabinets are in place, the counter top guy can come to measure; he will be here in the morning.  Yea!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...

1.  I overworked the other day (yeah, I know, hard to believe) and paid for it.  But my master bath is really clean...mirrors, sinks, shower, tub, toilet, floors, baseboards, window sills.  I consolidated the almost empty shower gel into another open one and placed the last of the giant shampoo container into a smaller bottle.  I applied non-slip strips to the shower floor just inside the door, where I always get a flutter after a few near misses when stepping out.  And I laundered the bath mats.  If anyone comes to visit, I may have to entertain them in there, because goodness knows the rest of the house is a disaster.

2.  I had a lunch date with three handsome young men today.  They listened to their grandmother rant about the widespread ignorance of flag etiquette.  I happen to think that if you are going to fly the national flag, you should know the annual half-staff dates and flag's as easy as signing up for email alerts for crying out loud.  The rant was initiated by the flag inconsistencies we saw between home and the restaurant.  (Today is a half-staff day in observance of Pearl Harbor remembrance.)

3.  I decided to work on Christmas cards today.  Of course, I haven't bought or made any cards yet, and I'm not really feeling like doing a full-blown 'Christmas letter' this year.  So I designed a really simple card that I could mostly print out and assemble.  Unfortunately I couldn't cut the separate elements in the correct size to save my life and so wasted a lot of paper, the printer ran out of ink, and my self-stick embellishments left their stickum on the packaging and so slid right off of the card.  Ugh.  Looks like I'll have to make another trip to town to get printer cartridges...and/or store-bought cards.

4.  I have another quilting day at the library tomorrow.  I haven't gotten the supplies together yet.

5.  We've been in this house for four years now, and are still getting mail for former residents.  Yesterday we received a notice that the postman tried to deliver a certified letter from the Sheriff's Department for one of them.  Ruh-roh.

6.  The kitchen is still bare walls.  The cabinet installation is scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd.  Merry Christmas!  

7.  Christmas is coming so fast!  I still have three hats to knit, presents to wrap, and some still to buy...and, oh yeah, a tree to put up.  sigh.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Last closet post...I promise...

Well, at least till the next time it needs a major clean out.  :)  These posts are mainly for me; so I can refer back as needed as to what worked and what didn't.


 Half way there...before moving the hanging rods:

I love having the rods on the back wall of the closet.  Work clothes, long items (dresses and robes), and jackets on the right.  Casual tops hang on the top left, slacks and jeans hang on the bottom left.

 Right side:
 These cubbies were moved from the back wall to side wall at front of the closet.  I stacked them for vertical efficiency.  I ordered some bins online so I can use them as a dresser and they look neater than having the contents on view.  I still need to add labels so I can remember what is in each 'drawer.'

Left side:
The jury is still out on the shoe cubbies.  The openings are a little too small for a pair to slide in easily.  If they don't go in easy, I'm likely to leave them on the floor in a jumble, so it will take some self-discipline to keep them put away properly.

Its top makes a nice location for my jewelry box.  The hooks (top left) that were there when we bought the house make a good spot for necklaces to hang tangle free, and handy to see and grab.  I also had Carey leave the rod in place on this side of the closet, specifically to hang damp 'delicates' till they are dry and can be put more leaving them hanging above the dryer in the laundry room where a drop-in guest would see them on entering and exiting the house.

It feels so good to have the wardrobe culled of things I never wear.  And I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to actually walk in to my walk-in closet.  It doesn't feel like a scary dark tunnel anymore.  :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I'm reading Wednesday...

We had a chance to go to the movies last weekend.  As I was looking to see what new movies were out, I came across this one.  It was produced and directed by Tommy Lee Jones.  He also stars in it as does Hilary Swank.  

The topic:  life for pioneer women in the Nebraska territory proves too hard for many...storms, poverty, hunger, never-ending work, sickness, childbirth, child mortality, loneliness.  When four women in a community succumb to madness, someone has to be found to transport them back east to family.

Since I descend from Nebraska pioneers, the stories of the real-life trials and madness that I heard or read of made a big impression on me from childhood.  I remember driving down a dirt road near my mother's childhood home when she pointed out a house and tree where a friend's mother hung herself...that occurred after pioneer times, but it really drove home the point for me of hard times of farming the area.  A visit to relatives often included a visit to the cemetery where paying respect at family graves always included my mother sadly remarking on a group of small headstones of babies and young children, all belonging to just one of our predecessor families who lost many of their offspring to childhood disease.

The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout

I couldn't resist buying the book for my Kindle, and I am reading it now.  But when I saw how few theaters were showing the movie, I didn't want to put off seeing it for fear it would be out of theaters before we got the chance to go.  I hope seeing the movie first doesn't ruin the book for me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Man Hat...

I just took this knitted cap off the needles.  The pattern is by Haven Leavitt and can be found here.  (The pattern is knit all in one color; I added the stripes.)  I started looking for a pattern after it got cold and Jared realized his knit cap--that he usually lives in all winter--had gone missing.  When I came across a free knitting pattern called The Man Hat, I had to try it out on the basis of the straight-forward name alone.

I really like the pattern.  I knit Jared's in a lighter color and on straight needles (I couldn't find my double-pointed ones), so I had to sew a seam, but the seam is impossible to see or feel.  I thought I would knit a few more for the boys for Christmas.  Since it is getting close to the end of the year, and one of my 2014 goals was to master knitting on double-pointed needles, I went on the hunt for knitting-in-the-round tools.

Here's where I made a mis-step.  The only round needles I had in the size called for were too long, and the store didn't have the length I needed either.  So I bought a set of interchangeable tips with a separate cable in the required length.  I cast on and knit a row.  All was fine.  But then the screw-on tips kept backing out of the connection and snagging the yarn.  I spent a lot of time and patience screwing those darn tips on tight many, many times (multiple times per row!)  I'm applying Super Glue to them before using them again...defeats the purpose of interchangeable, but so be it. 

And will someone please remind me never to knit with black yarn again?  The only time that  I've had to knit lately is at night, and it is so hard to see if you drop a stitch (or three).

But I successfully completed the decrease rows on the double-pointed needles...not without some frustration, but I got better.  So that's another goal ticked off the list.
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