Flat Stanley Letter 1

An editorial note to my readers:

Flat Stanley is a paper doll type of creature that has come to visit us from Kansas City.  His pal “Princess” (to protect her identity from creeps) sent him on a trip to see us so he could let her know about where we live.  I am sure he will also have plenty to say about the crazy people he is visiting!  I have no idea where else he will visit after he is tired of us, but you can check his very own blog to follow along if you like.

Gayle

Letter 1    Dec 31, 2007  4:00pm

Dear Princess,

Wow, you sent me off on a very long trip!  I am in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, staying with Gayle McKay and Steve Mazon, home of Mazon’s Quilting.  I arrived safely last night.

If you look at a map, you will see that they live about 13.5 hours (drive time) away from home in Kansas City.  It is approximately 870 miles.  Wow, that would be lots of driving.  I would have had to cross Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to get to Pennsylvania.  They live on the western side of PA, so it is not too much past the Ohio line.  I sure am glad I didn’t have to sit in the car that long.  I just whizzed along on the internet superhighway instead!  I was still tired when I got here though.

Here I am, saying hello!

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Did you know these people have quilting machines?  Not just one, but they have TWO!  And one of them is in the kitchen???  (I think these people are kind of weird Princess, but don’t tell them I said so)  They are both longarm quilters, just like your Mom.  Hey… if you are Princess…. is your Mom ummm, Queen??

Here is the Gammill quilting machine in the kitchen.   Is it like Queen’s?  Or does she have a different brand?  I forget.

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I was real tired last nite after I got here.  I was cold too.  Gayle and I had some milk and cookies, then we sat by the fire to get warm.  She got her jammies on and wondered where mine were.  OOPS!  I think my suitcase got lost in transit.  She said she would get going on making me some new clothes real soon.

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Before I went to bed, Steve was nice enough to read me a story.

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When I got up today there was a little bit of snow on the ground.  By noon it had melted because it got a little bit warmer.  It is 39 degrees F now, but there is a winter storm watch from now until late Wednesday.  It is supposed to get really cold tomorrow, down in the teens.  Gayle won’t let me go outside tomorrow if it is that cold unless she is done making my winter coat.  I hope she finishes soon so I can play in the snow tomorrow.

Gayle took me to a store called Dollar General today and bought me some shoes and slippers.  We didn’t find a coat, so she will make me one.  I know I will need one.  It was chilly today!

While we were at the store, we saw an Amish lady.  Gayle said it would NOT be polite to ask to take her picture.  They believe that photos are a sign of vanity.  They live a different lifestyle, and dress differently than the rest of us “English”.  You can find out more about Amish people here.   The Amish also use horse and buggy for transportation and don’t drive cars.  They will ride in a car though.  The lady I saw had on a long black dress, a black wool cape and black hat.  Here are some pictures of what some women dress like.

When we got home, I got put to work.  Steve was cutting and splitting wood and needed me to help him.  I was plenty warm working so hard.  And see Steve’s jacket?  I think Gayle should mend THAT before she starts any clothes for me!

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Steve took me to the barn to show me around.  He has 3 tractors.  He uses each one for different jobs.    Look what I saw in the barn….. aVERY big mama cow laying down.

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And here is the cute baby calf.  It is a week old and still has no name.  Would you like to suggest a name Princess?  Steve is interested in your ideas.  The calf is a boy, by the way.

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The Mom Cow (her name is Bessie) got up and the calf started to eat.  He drinks milk from her udder.  He also nibbles on hay a little bit.  When he gets bigger he will learn to eat some ground feed.  It is ground corn, oats, salt, molasses, distillers and minerals.

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And then……. well, you just won’t even believe it!  Steve thought I needed my VERY OWN horse to ride!

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Here I am learning to ride.

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Well, I better quit writing so I can help get ready for the New Year’s Eve party.  We are having shrimp, salad and some other goodies.  I hope you have a great New Year.  The next time I write to you it will be 2008!

Love from your pal, Stan

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We have had visitors…

We have had visitors.  Lots of visitors!

First, Santa came to visit us when we were sleeping.  When we got up on Christmas morning, he had filled our stockings for us.  And we opened lots of great presents.

I got a telescope to see and photograph the flora and fauna from a long distance, as well as see the stars.  And I got some much needed scissors, a scale that actually works and a particular shower head that I have wanted for years.   Steve got some books, clothes, a Galileo thermometer and Planet Earth DVD.

Elizabeth sent Steve a gift certificate for his favorite store, and sent me a webcam so we can talk to each other Live Messenger.  I can hardly wait!  She also sent these  beautiful ornaments that she made (with Mom’s help)  They enjoy doing “craps” together.

Here is mine:  (I apologize for these fuzzy photos.  It is the photographer, not the camera)

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For several days after Christmas we were just lazy.  And I got to play a little bit with some ideas for the Try A Triptych challenge on MQResource.  This is the start of Kay’s, where I tried foiling.  (a new to me technique)  The true color of the fabric is in the second (fuzzy) picture.

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Friday it was Christmas in my mailbox!  I got a package from Vicki because I had won a drawing on her blog.  I am the luckiest girl, I swear.  Look at these beautiful fabrics that she dyed, AND a hand picked selection of yarns and beads to go along with the fabrics she sent for landscapes.  I am beyond thrilled.  And SO impressed with the quality of her dyed fabrics.  I doubt you can really see it, but the one on the left is metallic.  I just need to go see Vicki for some lessons.

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Friday, Steve’s sister and her family visited from Texas.  They come home every Christmas to visit everyone.  Six or seven of them usually end up here for spaghetti dinner and for a visit.  This year we had no kitchen table, so had sub sandwiches in the living room instead.  It was nice to see them.

Saturday it was my turn to have family visit.  Neil, Yvonne, Elizabeth and William came for part of the day.  It was so much fun to play with Elizabeth, hold wiggly William and be able to visit some with Neil and Yvonne.

Hard to tell, but this is Elizabeth looking at the calf, ready to take his picture with her new camera.

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And she and froggy played the piano.

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And she and froggy liked the lit up store with people inside.

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William making faces at Grandma.

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Grandma Gayle with both of her grandchildren.  OH HAPPY DAY!!!

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Hey bucketheads….. those are my coiled fabric bowls!

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Darn it….. they wouldn’t stay…..had to go….. and William had to get all bundled up again.  And Grandma pulled that plug out to see his sweet mouth!

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Sunday we got another visitor!  His name is Flat Stanley and he came all the way from Kansas City.   I will have to make a separate entry for his visit.  Look for it later today!

Christmas Eve Day

What a fun day it has been! I started in the kitchen at 9:30 this morning. At 1:00 I finally sat down after the baking was done and the kitchen was cleaned up.

First I baked Biscotti… but used maple flavoring instead of anise or almond. (it’s called use what you have) They are quite tasty and different than anything I have made or eaten. Steve says they passed the taste test!

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Then I made No Roll Sugar Cookies made with Bisquick. I was intrigued with the idea of using Bisquick, and had exactly enough. I also liked the  fact that I could just roll them in balls, flatten with a glass and bake. Easy. And good too! I wont frost them because then they are way too sweet. These also passed the Steve taste test.

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Next was coffeecake. I was going to wait till tomorrow to make it, but figured since I already had all the ingredients on the counter I would just “git er done”. I used Suzanne’s recipe from her blog.

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WoW! It is SO yummy. And easy. I highly recommend it.  I had to sit down and try a piece while the pies were baking.

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And last….. Steve’s pumpkin pies. It is now officially Christmas for him since there is pumpkin pie on the counter. 🙂

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Now I think I will relax in my chair, have another cup of coffee and read my book The Secret Life of Bees.

Enjoy your day!

When it rains….

When it rains……… it pours…….. and sometimes there is a rainbow.

We have had lots of wind and rain since yesterday.  It rained all night.  And all day today.  This afternoon I was in the bathroom and heard water dripping.  Not the sink, not the toilet….. hmmmm……..

The WALL is leaking.  ALOT.  We think it is from where Steve installed a new outside door upstairs, but didn’t put trim around it.  Gee, ya think???  He is so not happy.  I am so not saying “I told ya so” about trimming that door last month.

So I have been doing laundry.  Lots of it.  Started with the regular stuff, but then it “rained” on the towel shelf.  All the towels.  And my nesting tables from my grandma (one of my most prized possessions) are wet and now need to be refinished.  sigh.   at least the featherweight didnt get wet.

And yet, we have so much to be grateful for.  We HAVE a house.  It didnt get washed away in a hurricane, or burned down in a forest fire, or flooded (yet!) like others.  And it didnt fall down the hill in a mudslide or crack apart in an earthquake.  See?  Someone is always worse off than we are.  Always.

So…. here is the rainbow.

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Thank you Judy for the help and directions.

It was a fun project.  One I will do again.  But let me tell you this….. if you have never dyed fabric yourself before, you should try it once.  At least once before you ever complain about the price of hand dyed fabrics.  I have a whole new respect for those that do this for a living.  Yep, glad to pay their price!   They earn every nickel of it.  The dye, the chemicals, the time, the energy, the water used, the electricity… wow.  And the knowledge.  There is as much to know about dying as there is to know about quilting, or golf or any other darn thing you indulge in.  I would never be able to repeat these exact colors, but I will be able to dabble and have fun again!

And here are a couple of the ones I “painted” to hopefully be a sunset over water.

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Hope your day was great.

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Holiday traditions:

Steve and I have a Christmas Eve tradition.  We eat a snack or finger food kind of dinner usually.  Sometimes I fix several appetizers and that is dinner.  But we always have shrimp… that has become our tradition.  Sometimes we have stuffed mushrooms.  Tomorrow we will have shrimp, broccoli/cheese salad and maybe some other appetizer I dream up without going to the store.

I havent done any baking because I have been dieting for a month.  But tomorrow I will make pumpkin pie for Steve because he thinks it is tradition.  I may make cookies because I found an easy recipe that is less fattening (actually less tempting!) than our traditional fudge and penuche.

Christmas morning traditions are to open whatever Santa brings in your stocking, then eat coffeecake.  Then open presents.  Dinner is usually ham, sometimes turkey.  Always sweet potatoes, a green vegetable and  OLIVES.  It isnt Christmas (or Thanksgiving or Easter) without olives!  And if Steve cooks we have mashed potatoes and gravy.  Enough gravy for an army.  I don’t eat gravy.  So if he wants it, he has to make it!  Works for me every time.

Just in case I get too busy baking pie or quilting tomorrow, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas!

New Calf and Dying Fabric

We got a phone call this morning from our neighbors.  This is what she said:

“Aunt Gayle, this is _______ .  Tell Uncle Steve that he needs to go get his calf.  The kids said the new baby calf is laying in the field and the mama is trying to drag it to the barn”.    (What???  now cows treat calves like kittens??)

So, we went out.  Steve scooped up the newborn calf, took it to the barn.  Then HE spent the ENTIRE day trying to get the mama to come in too.  She is totally barn shy.   I came in after an hour.  I went out several times throughout the day, but really, he has way more patience than I do about a stupid mama bellering at her baby.  Standing under the dripping roof to boot, gettting icy cold water down her neck.  Did I say she is a stupid cow?  This one really is.

Anyway, they are finally in the stall together.  She really is our dumbest cow and we aren’t sure she will successfully feed him.  We hope she will, but are waiting to see.

Here he is.  And yes, we are sure he is a he.  We both checked!

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NOTE TO SAMMI:  No, I really didn’t smell him.  I petted him, held his neck and head for about half an hour.  I really couldn’t smell him.  And I really didnt want to stick my nose on him.  He was still slick… his mama hadn’t finished cleaning him off when Steve picked him up.  Steve had toweled him off before these pictures though!  (Sammi likes the smell of newborn calves she told me)

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So while Steve traipsed from barn to fence, back and forth, trying to “bait” that cow with hay and feed (resulting in everyone else …. all 10 at some point or another)  coming in for the party except stupid mama, I stayed in and dyed fabric.

I had never done low immersion dying with fiber reactive dye before.  I bought all my dye and supplies at Dharma.   I have had them here for months, just never had time and energy to start.  I even bought gloves for this project at the grocery store, even though I really dont like them.  I decided to use the directions from my very talented friend Judy.   She teaches this method in her area and was nice enough to send me her handout.  I read it.  The WHOLE thing…. TWICE.  Made perfect sense.  (and yes, her directions say to use gloves)  Called Judy to ask her a quick question.  (directions say glass, is plastic ok?  good, cuz I dont have a gallon glass jug, but I do have a gallon plastic bucket)  Then the calf fiasco.

When I came in I skimmed the directions.  Quickly.  Too quickly.  Mixed my water.  Got all the jars ready.  Went to check progress in barn.   Came back in read directions again.  Oh shit.  Mixed wrong chemical in the bucket.  Start over.  Call Judy again to make sure I am right.

Making progress.  Get all the beautiful colors mixed with correct chemicals.  Only about an inch of liquid in bottom.  And scrunch the fabric in now?  Or add more water/chem mix first??  Call Judy.  Ok, fabric in, scrunch, add water/chem mix, scrunch, shake.

Thank goodness Judy was so patient with me.  And she was home!  I promised her I wouldnt call again, even though she said I could.

Aren’t they pretty? I feel as good about these jars as I do when I can fruit or vegetables.  I can hardly wait to see what they will look like tomorrow.

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I turned the jars over so you can see the colors better too.

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Oh, and those gloves?  Still in the box.  Did I say I hate gloves?

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And that is after multiple washings, including with Reduran, and a shampoo and shower!   Good thing I am a low maintenance gal who doesnt give a flip about a manicure huh?

I even made an attempt to “paint” (read slop with dye) a sunset or 2.

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I am hoping one of them may work for one of my Triptych projects for the MQR Triptych challenge.   If not, it will become some type of art quilt project.

Wild Life

Today I finished the quilt for the returning soldier. I have no idea what the piecing pattern is called. I decided to call this quilt Wild Life. The colors are bright (some think wild, not me) and it will go home to live in a log cabin owned by a young man who loves to hunt, fish, and enjoys wildlife. His Mom wanted it to have deer on it, and either fish or leaves. I chose a variety of leaves, rather than adding the fish.

Lots of pictures….. going from general to specific to the backing.

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And the deer:

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And the back:

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Steve had to move my hopping foot up for me in order to go over the seam intersections. Have had a few fine tuning issues….. hope to get them ironed out in the next week.

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I did not forget that yesterday was thankful thursday. Nope. And I was thankful.

And several other people SHOULD have been thankful that they weren’t yelled at, cussed, or shot. Why is it that everyone is so damn cranky? It makes ME crazy that they are so awfully cranky. So….. if you are in a nasty mood, please stay home. Do not call me. Do not email me. Do not bother those in your home with your nasty mood. Go to bed. Do not pass go. If you continue to be cranky, go directly to jail. Or I will!

Really….. I am happy and fine. I am looking forward to Christmas and seeing my son, daughter in law and grandchildren next week. I am looking forward to starting some artsy stuff. So I REALLY dont wanna hear your CRAP!

Merry Christmas!

No I am not

No, I am not sick or dead. No I am not a slacker. I have been busy, and have not had alot to say.

I did finish a book 2 days ago. And started a new one today.

Other excitement? Let’s see… grocery store, dollar store, gas station, dr’s appt., bank, post office, all that routine stuff. And making sure everything is done for Santa’s arrival. And reading and taking a nap and relaxing and watching the battle of the choirs on tv on NBC (Patti LaBelle needs to win!) and working on a custom quilt for a soldier returning from Iraq in another week…..

So, there ya have it. The total scoop.

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