Thursday, November 30, 2006

Goodbye November

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! We spent ours with family in Globe, AZ. We had a great time with great food, especially the corn pudding and pecan pie. This was supposed to be my Thanksgiving post but I was having trouble posting on our trip, which was driving me crazy! My good friend Ellen taught me how to make these adorable fabric turkeys, and I love them! They are really easy, and really they were the first thing I learned how to sew.

So I'm really frustrated because I just realized that I left my camera battery charger in AZ so I can't download all of my pictures from our trip. I have a lot to show you with the wedding, holiday, family pictures we had taken there, my new haircut, plus all the Christmas crafts and stuff coming up, so it's really driving me nuts that I can't use the camera! I hate it when I do dumb stuff like that. It just goes to show how dependent and addicted to this camera I am. Hopefully it will get sent back to me quickly and I can post a bunch more pictures from our trip, and finally show you pictures of my BIG PROJECT that I practically killed myself finishing in time for the wedding! In the meantime I'll work on my huge list of Christmas projects I want to make for gifts and decorations- embroidery, quilts, ornaments, pillows, sewing. Not to mention cleaning, decorating, shopping and getting our tree! A month is definitely not enough time to do it all!

My kids had a blast the last two weeks in AZ playing with their cousins whom they have sorely missed the last year since we moved away. My ten year old finally learned to ride a bike! The weather was great (It was 89 degrees in Phoenix one day) and we spent a lot of time with family. We got in at about 1 AM last night, us and our 12 checked bags, and 13 carry-ons! We have a storage still in AZ so we brought back as much as the airline would allow- including a bunch of my craft stuff which I am very happy about! I was expecting a blast of cold air upon arrival in Massachusetts, but it is actually so warm here, I can't believe it. Hooray for Global Warming! (Just kidding-I don't really think that!)I'm not a big fan of the cold, so I'm glad to delay winter a little, although I do love snow at Christmastime. We loved our trip, but it is always nice to come home. Everytime I come back here, as I come out of the tunnel after leaving the airport, and pass by the Union Oyster House, The North End, the Harbor, Bunker Hill, the old Hood dairy factory, and the US Constitution, and feel that nice humid air, this oldies song starts going through my head:

Doo doo doot, doot doo doot,
Yeah, down by the river,
Down by the banks of the river Charles,
That's where you'll find me
Well I love that dirty water,
Boston you're my home!
(The Standelles, 1960-something)

So, now it is on to Christmas! Tonight is our annual Wreathmaking Party at church. This party is pretty much our biggest activity of the year and has been a tradition in this area for at least 30 year, and I think even more. We always have a very nice program, elaborate decorations, nice food, and make fresh wreaths! It requires a lot of time preparing food and music, decorating, covering the entire gym with brown paper, and cleaning up. This year I was in charge of making 250 bows for the wreaths. My great friend Debbie and I organized two nights of bow-making mania! We lured prospective bow-makers to the church with hot chocolate and homemade cookies and ended up having a two really fun evenings of eating, chatting and bow-making. I have some funny pictures of this, but where are they- in my camera of course! So, I'll have to post them later. I'll have to borrow some of Ellen's pictures of the party too, or you can always just look at her blog: I KNOW she'll have pictures of the party posted- probably by tonight! She and our other friend are the head honchos in charge of tonight. I'm really looking forward to it! I am also in charge of clean up and basically planning to be there until midnight or so. We have a good crew signed up to help, which is a good thing, because I am sore from hauling my 600 lbs of junk through two airports with three kids in tow!

Well, sorry to ramble. Usually I like to keep the written part of my blogging short and sweet and focus more on the pictures, but a lot has happened lately.
So, Goodbye November, and Hello Christmas!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Beautiful Bride

Friday evening I did a bridal shoot of my husband's youngest sister who is getting married. Here are a few of my favorite shots. It's hard to choose which ones to post because she is so gorgeous and photogenic! I think she looks like a princess- complete with tiara. It was really fun taking these pictures of her. They were all taken on the grounds at the Mesa Arizona Temple. We really lucked out as they had their Christmas lights up already and we got to try out using a tripod and some long exposures in low light with the Christmas lights lit up. Wedding pictures to come!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Finished Fall Quilt- Finally!

I'm really happy with how this quilt turned out, just don't look too close or you will definitely find the flaws! I mentioned before that I was having difficulty with the applique. I think part of that is that I used flannel and it frayed really easily. I think if I used regular cotton, it would be easier. I had to rip off two of the pumpkins and redo them which kind of drove me crazy! I probably shouldn't admit this, but there is elmer's glue holding together some of the pumpkin edges so that they don't fray. Glue is not an approved quilting tool. I'm pretty sure that guild member ladies would scoff at the use of glue in a quilt! Not to mention the fact that my squares aren't equal in size and the points of some of them are cut off. And they don't always line up perfectly. I say this just give the quilt "charm" and "character," right?! I told you I am more of a make-do type of person than a perfectionist, at least in crafts. My motto is, if it looks cute to me, it's good enough!
I tried using a friend's darning foot to make the curved lines on the pumpkins, but we were having trouble with it so I ended up just using the regular foot and curving the needle. Thanks to my quilting buddy K. for all her help on this and all of my projects. It is kind of embarassing how many times I email her in a day asking quilting questions!
I always seem to underestimate how long something is going to take. This quilt is so small I figured I'd whip it out in a week, but it was more like a month. I guess technically it is still fall (although it is freezing here and I just saw frost on the grass), so I get to enjoy it hanging on the wall for a few more weeks anyway!
On another subject entirely, I watched a great movie called Glory Road today and highly recommend it. I sat and watched it with my 13-year-old son this afternoon and we both liked it. I don't think there are too many movies I can say that about. It is about a college basketball team in the 60's. Strangely, though I don't really like team sports (I kind of hate them for the most part, in fact), I seem to love sports movies. So, check out the movie, and bundle up because I feel a long and cold winter coming. Mine will be spent cuddled up under my latest quilting project. Next on the adgenda- Christmas quilts and gifts!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Apples to Applesauce

Last week I spent a couple of days making applesauce. It was time consuming but I have to say that the applesauce is so yummy it was worth the effort! If you haven't ever tried homemade applesauce, trust me when I say it is nothing like the bland stuff you buy in the grocery store.
I got a whole bushel of Jonathan apples imported all the way from Keeokuk, NH. My sister lent me her special apple peeling/coring/slicing doohickey. I'm normally not much of a gadget person, I'm more of a "make due with what you have" type of person. This tool is such a timesaver however, I highly recommend it if you want to be able to process a lot of apples because it saves so much time.
Jonathan apples are quite tart, and I didn't really add that much sugar to the applesauce so you can still really taste the tartness. I also made it a little chunky, and used a little bit of cinnamon, allspice and cloves. When I eat this applesauce I feel like I am eating an apple pie! It's pretty easy, just prepare the apples and add some water and the spices and some sugar and let it cook down for a good long time until it is as soft and smooth or chunky as you like.
I really like canning my own food. I usually make quite a bit of jam every year too. I just think it is so much better than what you can buy. Earlier this year, I went to Haymarket in Boston to get strawberries for jam. I found them for 50 cents a pound and got 30 pounds of strawberries, and made about 20 quarts of jam! Towards the end of the summer I made peach. I love to open up the cupboard and see all of those jars lined up. I love the idea of keeping in touch with nature and the seasons and storing up food for the winter. I like certain homemaking activities because they cause you to slow down and enjoy the process, and be pleased with the results of your hard work. Even though I know I can go to the grocery store and get pretty much whatever I need anytime, I really like to be thrifty and self-sufficient when I can be. As my jars boil away on the stove, I like to think of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers doing the same things for their families to get ready for winter. We've spent a lot of time at our house this fall watching the squirrels in our yard doing the same!
Happy harvest season to you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Spooktacular Halloween!

We had such a fun day yesterday. It started with "Woody's" Joyschool party. The elementary age boys had parties at school too. We came home and carved our pumpkins, and had "spooky spaghetti" for dinner. I got the idea for this bell pepper Jack- o'lantern from Taste of Home magazine and the boys thought it was pretty cool! Then we were off for neighborhood trick or treating with our neice, the adorable lady bug. Of course, we could barely keep up with our sugar-crazed kids! The little guy was a little spooked at the scary glowing decorations in our neighborhood. Some of the houses went all out with spooky music and everything but he overcame the fear in the quest for candy!
Then it was off to the church for, you guessed it- more candy! We did trunk or treating, which is great because you get even more candy even faster! We topped it all off with cider and donuts. Just what we needed- more sugar!
I was especially impressed with my oldest son's costume, he came up with the missionary idea all by himself. My other favorite creative costume was a one year old at church who had a mini shopping cart, and a cardboard sign that said, "Will work for Candy." I thought that was pretty clever.
We stopped at my sister's and another friend's, and then it was finally time to get home and get the kids in bed by 10 pm! Luckily they had no school today.
I heard them up this morning by about 5:30 am going through and trading their candy in their room, and eating it for breakfast. Unfortunately, I also have eaten my fair share of treats. So much for losing 5 lbs before the wedding we are going to in a couple of weeks!
Hope you all had a spooktacular time as well, and are recovering from your sugar rush! I'm not sure if my waistline is going to.