Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Today is my mother's 75th birthday. In honor of that, I'm spending the day doing things she taught me. If I lived closer, I'd do these things with her; I wish that were possible.

Enjoying Nature - It's a gorgeous day!

Pulling Weeds
Just like Wyatt learned how to identify a dandelion from his mother, my mother taught me the finer points of
weeding.
and feeling grateful the carpel tunnel surgery worked (a condition inherited from her)

Laundry and Ironing and Dishes

Making Relief Society Phone Calls - This dislike of making phone calls is another thing I inherited from my mother, yet she also taught me that it's easier to just do it than to sit around worrying and feeling guilty.

Making a Dentist Appointment - See above. I remember trips to the dentist (with a wood-paneled office and hanging beads in the doorways) and being rewarded for good behavior by stopping at the ice cream parlour afterwards.

Baking Honey Oat Bread (her recipe)

Making Progress on Genealogy - I have fond memories of sitting together filling out pedigree charts and family group sheets.

Fixing Dinner - It's a good day to turn the last of our St. Patrick's Day corned beef into a yummy soup to serve with the fresh-baked bread. I'm grateful Mom taught me how to cook and that she gave me lots of practice in doing so.
Leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup:

That's probably all I'll get to today, but every day I do things I learned how to do from my mother. 
They include crocheting and sewing, cleaning and organizing, reading and writing and studying. I'm so grateful for her! 

So grateful we got to see her last weekend, and that we were able to get a 4-generation picture!
Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Grandma's Bibs

Wayne's mom has a tradition of sending a set of holiday bibs to her great-grandchildren and everyone I've spoken to absolutely loves them. They're large enough to provide decent coverage, are easily washed and NOT easily pulled off. Besides that, they're fun and festive. Because someday - waaay in the future - I hope to have great-grandchildren of my own, I thought it would be good to record the instructions. Maybe I'll practice before then on babies of friends.

These start with a small hand towel (maybe it's even called a finger towel). Savannah's measured 11" x 17". Cut a 4 1/2" circle for the neck, and then sew 12" of ribbing into a loop. That is sewn into the circle. Add any decorative appliqué that you desire and it's finished!

I found a couple of tutorials here and here that can help you create your own version.









Thursday, March 16, 2017

Baby Blanket

A few years ago someone told me about "wing-tipped" needles, which are used to prepare fabric for a crocheted edging. After a while I finally got one and made a few baby blankets to give away. I felt like preparing a few more for future babies this month, and couldn't find my original instructions. So I don't have that problem the NEXT time I get into this mood, here they are.
I used 1 1/4 yards of 44" flannel from Joann, which happened to be on sale for $3 a yard last week. One yard would be fine, but I liked the idea of making it more square. I also used around 3 ounces of regular yarn. When my grandmother made these, she used the cotton thread, and maybe next time I'll try that, but regular yarn still works.
Trim the flannel so it's even, and round the corners (using a small bowl) if you don't want to deal with mitered corners. Serge the edges and then "poke" the holes using a wing-tip needle without thread. I set my machine to it's widest width and longest stitch. The first one I lined up the fabric so the needle zig-zagged over the serged edges, but the second one I lined up the fabric a little to the right, or along side the right edge of my presser foot. That allowed me to fold back the edge when crocheting.

The first round is the most tedious, because the crochet hook (even using the smallest I had, a size ) is still bigger than the hole created by the needle. It took about two hours, but was the perfect task for our four hour drive to Gainesville. Remember to use every other hole, or the ones furthest from the edge, and make a single crochet in each one, and slip stitch to the beginning stitch.

For the second round, which took about a half hour, chain one, and then do a single crochet in each stitch around. On each corner, I picked one stitch to do two single crochets in to help it lay more flat.

For the third round, which took about an hour, I made the shell stitch edging. The pattern for that is five double crochet in one stitch, skip a stitch, slip stitch in the next stitch, skip another stitch, and then keep repeating. Slip stitch into the beginning of the round and fasten off.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Baby Headband

The internet didn't exist (at least not for me) when Michelle was born over 20 years ago, so I wasn't able to record how I made the little headband for her blessing day. And then I forgot I had done so until I looked for her dress last week. In case I decide to make one again, here's how it's done.


Cut a 14" piece of elastic lace and sew the ends together, using a 1/4" seam. Cut a 9" piece of regular lace (about 1 1/4" wide), gather one long edge and pull tight to form a circle, then sew the short ends together. Cut a 10-12" length of 1/4" ribbon, tie a bow. I've learned it's easier to cut it a bit longer and then trim the ends after making the bow. Then attach the bow to the circle of lace, and sew the circle to the headband, covering the seam.  The final step is to find a precious little girl to wear it! 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Savannah's Blessing Weekend

We had another granddaughter join our family in January, and this weekend we were able to meet her. We also had the chance to spend time with two other granddaughters. Just imagine how much fun we can have with them, and their other cousins as well, in ten years!

Wayne was such a nice grandpa, and shared his blue "juice" with Robyn at lunchtime. She thought that was a real treat. 
I guess I should have expected a playground on the UF campus to be bright blue and orange. Even the rubber chips were dyed blue.
When it got too warm to be outside, we walked over to the Museum of Natural History.

Then it was time for a pizza dinner and Piesano's did not disappoint. The pepperoni rolls were delicious and so were the pizzas - deluxe for the men, bianca for the women, and pepperoni with black olives for the kids.
This was actually a bit later, but I decided to keep the restaurant pictures together. My parents didn't arrive in time for the pizza, so Jeff recommended SweetBerries, and Wayne and I got dessert while they had sandwiches for dinner. Isn't it great that we got to try two Gainesville institutions in one evening?
Our planned "tourist-y" activity was to visit the bat houses. If you're there at sunset and the weather cooperates, you can watch hundreds of thousands of bats leave their nests and fly off to find dinner.

The shores of Lake Alice provided a peaceful waiting spot.
Everything went as planned, and shortly after sunset the bats started leaving. I tried getting a picture, but without much success. You can pretend you were there in person by watching this video. And you can get educated on bats in Florida by watching this one.
 I wonder if Savannah will remember her first exploring day with Grandpa?
In spite of the gray clouds, Sunday was a gorgeous day, and Savannah was given a beautiful blessing by her father. And she got to wear the same dress that Michelle did on her blessing day, which I'm told I also wore.

I hope we're able to take a four-generation picture for a long time to come.
After church we had a delicious lunch of green salad, Texas Toast, "Mom's Lasagna" (from Stouffer's!) and Texas Sheet Cake. I don't know if it was planned or not, but I loved the reminder of Savannah's Texas roots.
And I was grateful for the reminder of my roots, and the opportunity to spend some time, however brief, with my own parents. Thanks for making the long trip!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Saying Good-bye (or Planning a Funeral)

This month I was asked to help arrange a funeral along with the family luncheon for someone in our ward. It was actually a beautiful way to serve and things turned out well. Just in case the opportunity arises again, I thought I'd record some sites I found that were helpful. (See below.)

The internet is a fantastic resource, but I also pulled out the funeral program for my grandmother's funeral to give me ideas. It's a blessing to be able to assign yourself to be the organist, because the hardest task was figuring out the music, particularly the musical number. This program included "How Great Thou Art" for the opening hymn and "The Lord is My Shepherd" for the closing hymn (chosen by the widow because they were her husband's favorite hymns). Family members read a couple of scriptures, gave the life sketch, and shared a poem. After some friends sang "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good" (an arrangement by our good friend Ross Farnworth), the bishop spoke. The actual service was only 30 - 40 minutes long, one of the shortest I've ever been to, but it was beautiful and met its purpose.

We were planning on 60 family members for the luncheon and 59 came. Sybil did a great job of estimating, don't you think?

Some of the things that worked out great were to use tablecloths instead of paper or nothing. I think that was important to me because I remember un-covered tables at the family luncheon after my grandmother's funeral. They're just not pretty, although they are practical, especially with a lot of little children. However, unlike for my grandmother, for this family only the widow was a member of the church; none of the relatives were. I felt we needed to leave a good impression. Fortunately, I think we succeeded.

We wanted centerpieces as well for the same reason. Simple is good, and there were some plastic vases with fake flowers in the Relief Society closet. With some fabric squares from my stash at home they did the job.


I read somewhere to put rolls and butter on the individual tables, instead of the serving table, and that was a great idea. If someone's really hungry, they don't have to wait for the line to form. In addition to pitchers of water, we also put the eating utensils, napkins and cups at each table so they wouldn't need three hands to carry things. Only the dinner plates were on the serving table. We also followed the suggestion to have the cakes on a different table, with room to place plates of cut pieces nearby.

We had the traditional menu of ham, potato casserole, green salad with dressing, rolls and cake, and the estimates below are pretty good. For 60 people, we used 2 Costco hams (10# each), 4 9x13" pans of potatoes, 14# of lettuce with 2# of grape tomatoes and a bag of croutons, 2 16-oz bottles of salad dressing, 1 pound of butter, 9 dozen rolls and 4 9x13" cakes. It actually turned out to be the perfect amount - we didn't run out of food, but we didn't have leftovers coming out of our ears either.

It was a long day, although not quite as long as a wedding day, and I was grateful that Wayne was happy to come along to help. The checklist should have a reminder to wear comfortable shoes! Don't forget to have someone open the building for the funeral home people (although I guess that isn't normally part of the luncheon committee responsibility). Just for future reference, we arrived at 10:30 to make copies of the program and practice the musical number. The service started at noon. The family arrived back from the cemetery around 1:30 and we were finished with clean-up around 3:30. Lots of hands really do make the work light.

Here are a couple of the resources I used, Mormon Share and LDS Women, and here's the checklist for the family luncheon (or repast as our Sybil called it):

Planning Checklist

  1. Call the family to find out the time and place of the funeral, estimated time of the luncheon, and rough estimate of how many family members will be eating.
  2. Get a phone number from the family of a family member who would not mind getting a cell phone call in case the servers need to locate or contact the family on the day of the funeral and luncheon.
  3. Reserve the building. Be sure to reserve enough time for set up, a leisurely meal, and clean up. Funeral preparations take precedence over other uses of the building.
  4. Make sure there are enough paper products in the paper closet.
  5. Assign someone to set up #_____of tables and #_____of chairs to each table by__________(time). (8 People can comfortably sit at the round or rectangular tables.)
  6. Consult the Compassionate Service Leader(s) to plan the following:
    • Decide menu and amount needed of each item. (See the Sample menu.)
    • Call people to make assignments (or if there is time you can pass around an assignment sheet in Relief Society, Primary, Nursery, Library and Young Womens) – Tell them the time and place to deliver their food. You’ll need:
      • help with set up (tablecloths/paper, serving tables, food placement, beverage preparation),
      • help to receive the food (use a tape and marker to write a name on each tray),
      • help to serve the food,
      • help with clean up, and
      • help to return empty dishes after the funeral.
    • Call people that can help on the day of the luncheon:
      • Remind them of time to be there (at least 30 minutes before family arrives to avoid any distracting rushing about).
      • Remind them to label their utensils or dishes
      • Remind them of any other assignments (knives, etc).
    • Take a list of people bringing food so you know who to expect.

Items Needed

  • From the Library:
    • Scissors (a myriad of uses, possibly to cut paper for tables)
    • Tape and marker to label any unmarked dishes, pans, or serving utensils
  • From the paper supply closet:
    • paper to cover the tables - or tablecloths
    • large and small plates
    • napkins
    • plastic utensils
    • plastic cups
  • Bring from home:
    • Keys (main door, library, paper closet, Relief Society closets, and kitchen)
    • Cookie sheets (use to carry leftover food to cars)
    • Aprons
    • Dish towels, wash cloths, and dish soap
    • Unit phone directory (in case you need more help or someone forgets to show)
    • Aluminum foil, Saran Wrap, Ziplock bags (quart and gallon), disposable foil containers (to distribute any extra food)
    • Small Serving Spatulas (to scoop and serve desserts)
    • Sharp kitchen knives (since many units do not allow knives to be stored at church)

Sample Family Meal Menu

  • Meat: Ham 1 feeds 10 to 12 people/Roast/Turkey
  • Funeral Potatoes: 9×13 feeds 12 to 15 people
  • Salads:
    • Bagged Green Salad (add tomatoes and cucumbers; 2 lbs will probably feed 12-15) and Dressing (Thousand Island, Ranch, Catalina and Italian are popular)
    • Jello: 9×13 salad feeds 12-15 people
    • Pasta
  • Fruits (cut watermelon, seedless grapes, honeydew melon, strawberries, and cantaloupe in season)
  • Veggie trays and dips
  • Potato chips
  • Rolls and butter
  • Beverages:
    • Ice Water (buy bagged crushed ice)
    • Kool-aid (bring sugar and measuring cup)
  • Desserts
    • Cakes (Cut into 24 slices per 9×13 pan)
    • Cookies

Setup:

  1. Turn on the heat or air conditioning if needed.
  2. As each food item is delivered – make sure to put tape and the sister’s name on each tray.
  3. Cover tables with paper.
  4. Set salt and pepper shakers at the end of each table.
  5. Place empty cups at each place setting.
  6. Cut butter sticks in half and place on small paper plates. 
  7. Use plants and flowers from the funeral for center pieces if they are available.
  8. Set up two long tables for serving food and cover them with paper.
  9. Place the large paper plates at the beginning of the serving line.
  10. Set out 3 lined baskets for the utensils at the end of the serving line.
  11. Set out the napkins at the end of the serving line.
  12. Set out 1 to 2 big garbage cans with liners (near the exit to the dining area but as far from the serving area as possible).
  13. Set up one long table for desserts. Cover it with paper.
  14. Be sure you have contact numbers for the family and stake/ward/branch leaders in case of emergency.

Just Before the Family Arrives:

  1. Place ice in each pitcher, fill with water and place on tables.
  2. Cut the desserts into small servings, place on small paper plates, and place onto the Dessert Table.
  3. Place food (with serving utensils) onto the table.

During the Luncheon:

  1. Check to make sure the water pitchers are full.
  2. Refill (if have more in the kitchen) the food on the Serving and Dessert Tables.

Clean Up:

  1. Wash dishes.
  2. Put tables and chairs away.
  3. Sweep gym and kitchen floors (Wipe up any spills).
  4. Vacuum hallways.
  5. Take trash to the outside dumpsters.
  6. Ensure all lights are turned off, bathrooms are clean, and building is locked up.
  7. Return dishes and utensils to owners.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Catching Up - Fourth of July Weekend 2016

One of my goals this year is to try to do better at recording our memory-making days here on the blog for posterity's sake. I probably ought to add at least one before January is over! This one was in the draft section, so I might as well start with it, and that will help with my never-ending quest to finish things.
I had a great birthday weekend in 2016, which started with a Saturday walk around Glades Pioneer Park, followed by a picnic. Our timing was perfect, and the afternoon thunder showers didn't start until we were ready to leave.
Son #4 (our Lego fanatic) and his lovely wife came to spend some time with us. They couldn't keep their secret any longer and insisted on having me open my present that night (before my birthday). In case you can't tell, it was an announcement that they were expecting a baby - our 10th grandchild. Exciting news, and we were so happy for them. (The baby has since arrived, which means that someday there will be a post on that - hopefully, sooner rather than later!)
A lot of our celebrations center around food, and birthdays and holidays are no exception. We stopped for ice cream on the way home from our picnic, and my birthday breakfast was patriotic waffles. Wayne shared his Father's Day gift of Omaha Steak burgers for our Independence Day barbecue, and we whipped up our favorite chocolate snack cake for dessert.
All in all, it was a beautiful weekend filled with activities that are now great memories.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Great See's Project


Every year my dad sends me a box of See's assorted chocolates for Christmas. Every year I have to remember which piece is which flavor, so this year I decided to check the internet for a good resource to help me remember. I was surprised that there wasn't a code/map/description to be found. I did find the "build a box" portion of the See's website, but it wasn't terribly helpful. However, it provided a starting place for me to make my own list, and I'm posting this so I don't have to do it again next year. If I help someone else in the process, that's a nice bonus.

Starting with the photo on their website, I looked at the individual flavors and tried to decide which was which in my box. I discovered that the chocolates in my box weren't exactly the same (you'll notice that my #3 was oval and #4 round while the sample showed both as rectangles), but they were close. However, it's hard to tell the difference between two round chocolates with different fillings, so my original predictions were only about 33% correct. That's pretty sad. Fortunately, testing my hypothesis wasn't a challenge at all!
Oops, forgot a number! Bottom right corner is #24.

The results:
  1. MILK MOLASSES CHIP: Sugar wafer flavored with molasses and covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  2. MOCHA: Creamy center flavored with coffee and cream covered in smooth milk chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice.
  3. MILK COCOANUT: Creamy soft center with angel flake coconut covered in smooth milk chocolate. (However, in my box, this piece was more oval and turned out to be DIVINITY: Fluffy white chocolate center with English walnuts covered in smooth milk chocolate.)
  4. DARK BUTTERCHEW: Buttery brown sugar caramel with vanilla covered in rich dark chocolate. (My box had a repeat of #8.)
  5. WALNUT SQUARE: English walnuts held together with buttery caramel and dipped half way in rich, dark chocolate to show off the delicious center.
  6. DARK CALIFORNIA BRITTLE: Buttery brittle with California almonds enrobed in rich dark chocolate.
  7. BUTTERSCOTCH SQUARE: A soft center of grained brown sugar and cream with a touch of vanilla covered in milk chocolate.
  8. DARK CHOCOLATE BUTTER: Creamy soft center with chocolate liquor and butter covered in rich dark chocolate.
  9. MAYFAIR: Creamy soft center with walnuts, cherries and vanilla covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  10. NORMANDIE: Creamy vanilla brown sugar soft center with English walnuts and almonds, coated in rich dark chocolate.
  11. MILK CHOCOLATE BUTTER: Creamy soft center with chocolate liquor and butter covered in rich milk chocolate.
  12. RUM NOUGAT: Chewy nougat center with glace cherries, plump California raisins, and English walnuts with a touch of rum flavoring covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  13. DARK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in rich dark chocolate.
  14. SCOTCHMALLOW: A layer of caramel with a layer of honey marshmallow covered in rich, dark chocolate..
  15. MILK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in smooth milk chocolate.
  16. VANILLA NUT CREAM: Creamy soft center with vanilla and English walnuts covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  17. DARK NOUGAT: Chewy nougat with honey, roasted California almonds, angel flake coconut and vanilla covered in rich dark chocolate.
  18. MILK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in smooth milk chocolate. (A repeat in my box.)
  19. NORMANDIE: Creamy vanilla brown sugar soft center with English walnuts and almonds, coated in rich dark chocolate. (Another repeat in my box.)
  20. WALNUT SQUARE: English walnuts held together with buttery caramel and dipped half way in rich, dark chocolate to show off the delicious center.
  21. MARZIPAN: Almond paste with honey and powdered sugar covered in rich dark chocolate.
  22. CARAMEL: Buttery brown sugar caramel with a touch of maple sugar and California almonds enrobed in smooth milk chocolate.
  23. MILK BORDEAUX: Creamy brown sugar soft center covered in milk chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice.
  24. DARK PATTIE: Rich chocolate caramel with a touch of vanilla and covered in rich dark chocolate.
Note that if you go to the website, you can see pictures of the insides of the individual candies.

Silly me! I thought both layers would be identical, but they weren't. So, I guess coming up with this list wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped it would be. Here was the second layer:



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween 2016


Our ward's assigned theme for this year's stake youth costume dance was "neon and glow sticks." What kind of a theme is that??? A quick search on Google showed a bunch of costumes using black sweats with glow stick outlines:

                                                                  
With only a couple of days before the activity, I didn't think I could order or prepare something like that, and wasn't sure I wanted to anyway. Halfway down the page, though, there was a picture for a jellyfish costume. 
Glow in the Dark costume
Jelly fish glow, and come in neon colors, so we decided that would be a good costume choice, and something  we could create in a day or two. Bright and early the next morning I checked our supplies, went off to the store (multiple ones!) and got to work.


The first stop was Joann, looking for a couple of neon t-shirts. They had orange and green in the proper sizes, so that took care of the color choice, (although my grandson was disappointed our jellyfish weren't pink). I also picked up some ribbon, tulle and iridescent fabric. The dollar store had plenty of glow sticks, along with a few other things like foam board and shower poufs*. Unfortunately, they didn't have hats, so the next stop was Party City, where I found inexpensive plastic fedoras that did the job. Still no battery-powered light strands, so on to Home Depot. It's a good thing the Christmas decorations are already on the shelves!


*One thing I learned this week was that you can clip the string on the pouf and the ball turns into a long strand, perfect for the large jellyfish tentacles.


With the supplies on hand, it was time to start creating. The first step was to cut an 18-inch circle out of the foam board. Then cut an opening for the hat in the center and tape the two together. The instructions I found said to use hot glue, but that didn't work for me.

The next step was to tape the battery pack for the lights under the rim in the back. I tried the "hat" on at this point and it fell off the back of my head, so I made two adjustments that weren't mentioned in the various instructions I found online. One was to add a chin strap (made by poking two holes for a 6-foot by 6-inch piece of tulle) and to tape some spare batteries to the front to help balance the contraption. That did the job.

Then it was time to add all the tentacles. The shower pouf made three large tentacles, which I placed on the back and sides of the hat. Then I cut various pieces of ribbon and taped them all around until it looked right.

Most of the instructions then said to hot glue bubble wrap to form the mound. I did that for the green costume, but tried pillow batting for the orange one. Either one would work, but once again the hot glue didn't. I just kind of placed it in position, then covered the mound with a square of bubble wrap which I then taped to the brim in between the different ribbons. Hopefully this all makes sense, but  if you ever try this, feel free to make it up as you go along, that's part of the fun of the creating process.


At this point, I wound the light strand around the top and taped it into position. Then I tried covering it all with the tulle (4 layers worth). I discovered that pins worked the best for attaching this, and was grateful I remembered that little trick. I was getting a bit frustrated until I did, because neither tape nor glue was sticking to the tulle.


The final pre-party step was to overlay some shiny, translucent fabric over the top, again attaching it a few times with pins stuck into the foam. I wanted to be able to see clearly, so mine (the green one) has a short little "veil". Wayne wanted more of the jelly-fish like body, so his (the orange one) has a longer one. It would have been ideal to make this a giant circle, about 30 inches in diameter, but I got all the fabrac the store had left on the bolt, and there wasn't enough to do so.


Just before walking into the party, we added glow sticks to the hat by taping them to the shower-pouf tentacles. We also added a few more glow sticks around our neck and arms, turned on the lights, and were quite pleased with the results.


I love seeing the creativity that comes out for Halloween fun. We were really glad we didn't go with the stick-figure idea when we saw that another ward had! It was a fun evening. I wonder what we'll come up with next year, but I'm ready to wait a year to find out.


Happy Halloween!