Saturday, October 29, 2011

WIPS*- Personal Best

(* Works In Progress) 

In the 60's, before Attention Deficit Disorder had an official name, children like me were just called names like 'flibbertijibits'.  I was the child that could not sit still. I frustrated teachers and wore out my parents.  My pencils were the smallest in the class due to the countless trips to the pencil sharpener.  I was the Teacher's Helper who insisted on passing out papers.  If I had to sit still, I had to have something to draw or write on, a practice that continues to this day.  However, what was unfortunate for a little girl in a very structured Parochial school, where the nuns walked the small aisles of our over heated, over crowded classrooms, Ruler of Correction ready in their eager hands, has turned into quite the bonus for a crafty mama with business on her mind.

 To add to the benefits, I have also discovered that I need less sleep these days.  Post menopause has afforded me with extra energy and shorter nights. This elderly flibbertijibbit can oft times be seen up and wondering with her pads of paper in the wee hours of the night, plotting, planning and writing, always writing.....
 I have several note pads on my bed side table,, that help me organize my night time brain.  The nights that the ol grey matter will just not shut down, the nearby pen and paper helps me to organize my rushing thoughts and helps me to plan my day, week, month, year.  Just the other night, the pen had to take over when the brain just had too much to process.  I started thinking about the holiday season forthcoming and my thoughts just kept bumping into each other.  Once I started listing all the things that are on my agenda for this next month, even I was amazed.  How in the world did I get all this on my plate?  And who would of thought that I would be this excited at the prospect of accomplishing it all?  These kind of lists  do not overwhelm me.  They amaze me.  How did I get to this point?  And who knew that it would all roll out like this?  I rejoice at the ability to do what I do.  I am overjoyed at sewing/creating for people.  It just kinda rolls out of me and I am tickled to be able to share my time and talent with others.

 Let us review this weeks list:

  • I have bought yarn for my first knitting project.  It will be for whomever it fits once it is completed.  Could be a child of Miss Viv's for all I know.  But I shall count it as a wondrous opportunity for growth in so many ways. I believe understanding knitting will aid me in many ways on my crafty adventures.
  • I have a crocheted afghan to finish for fireside this winter.  Started it last year whilst helping Baby Girl with her spanking new Baby Girl.  BGBG is now 10 months old.  Whats the rush?
  • I have hand embroidery always at the ready.  The hour and half drive to the Big(ger) City, finds me in the co pilot seat, with embroidery floss or pearl cotton flying away, busily creating pockets for my custom bags.
  • I have a new grandbaby due come the merry month of May.  I have a quilt top to quilt before then.  Another car trip project.  I also have another quilt nearly finished for Pretend Granddaughter Sara. I would love to have this finished before Christmas.  Or at least before she goes away to college.....
  • The living room makeover of last spring is spreading throughout the house.  Before Thanksgiving, when all the chickies shall roost, there shall be new curtains and cushions in the dining room.  I hope.

  •  I have twelve bags on order.  Twelve.  I LOVE this.  But they must get done this month. This Shall Be Accomplished.
  • I have Christmas Banners to make for Rabbit Rita and her festive holiday booths and my etsy shop.
  • Second Grade Teacher Angela has recruited me to aid in her quest to feature her class tree at a holiday Fantastia; a Christmas Tree auction where groups decorate trees to be auctioned off for charity.  This too, shall be accomplished this month.

So those of you that are bothered by your own flibbertijibbit,please be patient with her/him.  As annoying as it is in childhood, it is the person 
that will get things done for you as an adult.  We are the caregivers, the doers, the movers the shakers, the multi crafters....

Take that, Sister Alverna!!


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Mother of All Deep Dish Pizzas

 Simple ingredients; complex instructions.
Common food; uncommon taste.
In my nearly 58 years of pizza snarfing, I do believe I have, just today, consumed the best pizza ever.  Big ol' claim and I can substantiate this broad statement with a qualified taste test of the most delicious kind.
 No simple pie, this.
The recipe, snatched from my favorite food program, Country Cooks on PBS, is pretty incredible and a bit Type A.  Hubby loved the detail.  I tolerated it, trusting good old Christopher Kimball, host of CC, to not fail me.  I have tried several American Test Kitchen recipes and was very impressed with the quality, so, I pursued
 on with all the details, just to be able to reap the harvest of superior pizza..
 Cook's Country usually comes on around 1:00am for us, about the time Hubby gets home from work.  The other night, I was nearly asleep when I heard them announce the program center piece- Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza.  In my sleepy haze and with my eyes closed, I listened as Christopher and his side kick describe just why this pie was superior than most.  Before long, I was propped up with my salivary glands wide awake.  By the time they were taste testing it, I wanted to run downstairs and begin my pie.
 I waited till today and I must say, that the hype was purely true.
The best crust, the mellowest taste ever.  Melt in your mouth wonderful.  Hubby was silent in his admiration.  Youngest Son, Pizza Cult member, agreed with the most amiable groans as the mozzarella melted in his mouth.
 The secret to this wonder crust is 'laminating' the dough.  I know.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  And I wondered how you could roll dough 'dry'- without any additional flour.  This step is usually what makes pizza dough tough.  Who knew?
 Once the dough has risen, it is rolled out, spread with butter (!) then rolled up jelly roll fashion, then split in half.  Each half is folded in thirds then seamed and placed into a squarish ball.  Then into the fridge so the butter can get cold before the last roll out.  See?  Told you it got a bit tedious.  But in a fun kind of way.
 Two cups of mozzarella.  NO meat.  NO vegetables. (The cook was adamant about this.  Said veggies belong in a salad; not in her pizza)  Yes Ma'am.  The sauce that you make while the first dough rise is absolutely perfect.  Clean taste.  Perfect accent to the dough.  Fresh Parmesan topping and in the oven it goes.
 For a l-o-n-g twenty minutes........
 But oh soooooooo worth it.......
 One piece was all that was needed for this 1200 calorie gal.  And that was all I needed.  A salad topped off the amazingness as I slowly ate bite after luscious bite....
If the complexity of the recipe scares you off, consider hosting a pizza party where every one can pitch in.  All gatherings will have at least one type A in attendance, and he/she can keep you on task.

Make sure you copy this recipe**ASCA00. 
Make sure you try at least one superlative Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza in your lifetime.

Just don't take mine.......

Buon appetito!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Beary Good Costume Idea!

 In my life as an artsy-fartsy medium income mama, I have made some pretty interesting costumes.  Some years, we could go all out and actually buy material for four children's costumes.  Most years, we made do with what we could scrounge around my fabric stash.  Usually those costumes are the most memorable because of the level of involvement of the creative brain cells contained inside my head.  I'm now in my second generation of this type of costume production.  And I love it.....
 This year, Baby Girl gave me the challenge of coming up with a Three Bears Costuming for her Baby Girl, Her Hubby and the precious, precocious Lil Lady.  In LL's pre born days, she was known as Baby Bear, so it only seemed fitting that her first costume foray, should be bear related.

I began by going through my old sweater bin.  These are sweaters that have fallen out of style, favor and size but are just really too good in quality or color to let them go completely.  I recently made  purse  out of one and have made stuffed owls and pillows with others.  Sadly, no good color of bear brown to be found.
 Very fortunate to have a visit with the Three Bears and that included a Goodwill visit to hunt out some bear hide.  No sooner had we walked in the door, when Hubby, BG and I scored enough brown sweaterage to outfit the whole bear family nicely.  Thank you, once again, Goodwill.

Baby Girl found a very girly, lacy kind of brown sweater, perfect for mama bear.  Added to the ensemble, was a vintage gingham apron gifted from Most Loving Friend that very weekend.  Providential.  Her Hubby has a very Mr. Roger's type sweater to go with his nice little newsboy cap with ear flaps and properly outfitted with bear ears.  Baby Girl's curly locks will be set off with her bear ear's headband.  Positively adorable.

Lil Lady's costume started out as a very stretchy, very soft veloury type of sweater.  I grabbed a sweater that fits her fine now as a template to cut out the main body and arms.  After tucking in the sleeves of the sweater, I used the shape left as a pattern for the body.  Before stitching together, I used some soft wool that BG had lying around (family trait) and made a most fuzzy belly for Baby Bear.  I blanket stitched to the body piece for a comical, fantasy look.  The sweater was a small so I used the sleeves as, well, sleeves, for Baby Bear.  I laid out the sleeves in her functioning sweater on the bear sweater and cut out a copy.  Two actually.  Sewing the main body parts together on the sides and teeny shoulders, I now had two armholes to set in the sleeves.  This all was sewed by hand for several reasons, one being that we were just too lazy to get out her sewing machine and set it up.  The other reason is that machine sewing on very stretchy knit can be a bit of a challenge without proper equipment which I did not bring with.  Sewing by hand made me more mobile in her small apartment with  nosey, nine month old hands nearby.  And remember, this is a costume so it does not have to be perfect; it just has to hold up for one night.  Sewing costumes is excellent sewing practice for that very reason.  Whaddya got to lose, right?

By the end of the evening, everyone had bear ears, Lil Lady had a very soft, beary nice costume with Her Mama adding brown leggings, an adorable little layered brown skirt and, of course, she already had a bear hat.  I was on a roll and making shoe covers for her oxfords with soft woolly paw bottoms just seemed necessary. Since the sweater was so stretchy, she bearly(!) noticed that we tried the top on for the fitting.  And with all the fawning over the adorableness of it all, she couldn't help being very giddy and taken with herself.

Could you blame her?  
I could bearly stand the cuteness of it all......

Take a chance with costume making this Halloween.  What fun you'll have messing with material and winging the sewing!  Good practice and a whole lot of fun!

Right, Lil Lady??!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spoofin' Supreme

 The planets lined up.
The weather was perfect.  I  mean perfect.
The dog was kenneled.
Our bags were packed.
Our car, Sharky, was scheduled for it's routine maintenance for a proper spoof.
We departed in a timely fashion for an amazing weekend, full of family, festivities and LOTS of wonderful deals.
 The weather decided to turn to that coolish daytime/cold night time of loveliness following a most beastly hot summer.
Sharky has proper climate adjustments so we just adjusted accordingly and comfied in for the long trip to our original hometown.

I believe the Yard Sale gods smiled hardily upon these Autumnal Travelers and there was a proper amount of sales on the winding state routes between here and there.

Sharky has a big trunk for the finds.  By the time we meandered home days later, Sharky was full up, nearly bursting with our wonder treasures.
 It is a good thing to pack a good project for busy hands to content themselves while the miles pass.  We like to bring along a particularly interesting audio book to fill in between conversations.  It aids the quilting process.
 Hubby loves the sales more than he would like to admit.  He seeks them along the road as I quilt/crochet/knit/embroider, points out details that I miss, pulls out his wallet and then carries the twelve point buck to the car.  What a guy.
 Our sojourn took a stop at the wonderful digs of Oldest Sister's lovely new home.  She parted with her comfy bed for two nights.  She also  managed to organize a huge subdivision wide sale for us.  While we waited for her to arrive from a visit to her nearby VA hospital with her Lovely Hubby, my Hubby and I scoured the sales for some nice, upscale clothing for the grandgirls.  She did take credit for the sale, but I believe it was truly the Yard Sale gods again.....
 Could you imagine a better, more gorgeous day for an outdoor wedding than what Springfield Illinois experienced last Saturday?  Sapphire deep blue skies, breezes that only early fall can provide and sunshine aplenty just for the sheer joy of it.  Sitting with Hubby's multitudinous siblings, I was reminded again that to be a part of a large family, (Hubby is 5 of 10) is indeed a glorious thing.  Knowing all the history that has passed in all our lives, we still manage to come together like it was yesterday. Comforting.

 When we do gather for Hometown Occasions, we make it our habit to go to the cemetery to visit Mom and Dad.  We stand around and chat, much like we did when we visited their home. Then, Dad would be quietly playing solitaire at the dining room table, smiling over the din, while Mom desperately tried to get a word in edgewise, while the chaos of our offspring bounded throughout their well worn home.

 We stood nearby their headstones and cracked jokes about our current conditions and some historical anecdotes about each of the parental units, now in their eternal reward. Strangely fun.
 Between the raucous 'younger' music and our Family dance to 'We are Family' and 'Celebration', including the sister in the walker, we managed to talk each other's ears off.  Lots of stories and plans were made in those fun moments at the reception.

 It's never an official trip 'home' until we've done the tour of our homes:  The one Hubby was raised in and the ones we occupied as newly weds.  Always, we go by Gabatoni's, the pizza place that Hubby worked at when we started dating and then when we first  married.  Hubby still makes the glorious Italian Beefs that he cooked at that small Italian restaurant back in the day.  The pizzas there are the best and the one that we measure all other pizzas by.  Nearly 40 years later, the pizza we shared this lovely fall night, was the same as the pie that we would order, many years ago, at the walk up window and carry home to his parents house nearby and eat on the porch swing.    We were so full of memories that night we nearly choked on the emotion.

 Sunday wanted to show off to Saturday.  If the weather hadn't made the day, Big Sis wakes us up for the most amazing breakfast. Ever.  We drifted out to Niece Lisa's home.  Hubby caught a fish and soaked up  atmosphere .  Just spending time with Lovely BIL on the deck was treat enough.  The rest was icing.

When all the goodbyes were said and hugs and promises were made for future visits, we climbed in to a very full Sharky and headed southeasterly toward home.  We continued on with our book and my quilting until the crescent moon rose in the sky and our tummies reminded us to eat.
Stopping at the Blue Door in Greencastle to refuel for the evening, we sighed and reflected and reminisced.

 And we thanked God for the Spoofin Extraordinaire Weekend that had just taken place.


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