Friday, December 30, 2016

Getting Reacquainted with My Sewing Machine

I have a fancy sewing machine. It's computerized. It can do fancy embroidery. I bought it in 2005, the year I retired from teaching. I have had a lot of fun with it in the past, like when I was making special dresses for Irene. But then she informed me several years ago that she wouldn't be needing any more of those dresses, so I have not used my sewing machine much sine then. I did make a quilted jacket for myself two years ago which included embroidery, but since then my sewing machine has been sitting idle except for an occasional mending or hemming job. 

I picked up a couple of red checked dish towels at a Christmas shop somewhere and was going to embroider them as a gift for myself, but I never got to it. 

Well, now Christmas is over and gardening is still a ways off and there is time to fill. So. I decided it was time to dust off my know how, refresh my memory, and set up my machine for an embroidery project. 
All of my designs were purchased on line and are stored on my desk top computer. 

 Selected designs are downloaded to the sewing machine memory card.
 The card goes into the machine. 
I selected this design for the first project. These guide sheets were printed from my original design purchases from Embroidery Library.  They give the color list for each tread change of the design.  Since the color numbers don't match my thread supply, I have fun deciding which of my colors will match, or if I want to change the colors, I can. 
Stabilizer is applied to the back and the fabric is hooped, centering the design where you want it placed. I load up the threads in the correct order, place the hoop on the holder and press the button. Things can go wrong, like the thread breaking, so I usually stay right there. When each color is done, I change the thread, which is easy with the automatic threader. 
 And, ta dah, the finished product. It takes several hours. I did this one Wednesday.
 Thursday I did a second one, but didn't hoop the stabilizer  out to the edges and into the hoop, and the fabric bunched up a bit. It's always a learning process. Don't skimp on stabilizer. 
But since it is a gift to myself, it's OK. 

The prettiest one is now hanging on my oven door. 

Time to dig into my sewing project box and see what I can work on next. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winter Walk

We walk almost every day, time and weather permitting. We have a route in the neighborhood that is about 3.35 miles.

However, today, we decided to take advantage of the clear day and the sunshine to go on a "destination walk". That means we drive somewhere, usually not more than 20-30 minutes from home, and then walk, enjoying a change of scenery. 

Today we chose to walk down in the Kent Valley, along the Green River. I have posted this route before so some of you might find it familiar. 

We start at The Old Fishing Hole, a small park belonging to the city of Kent. The ducks were in residence. 

 We walked up one side of the river on a farm road, past the llama farm, but most of the llamas were in the barn. 
 Mount Rainier was illusive, with a veil of fog and low clouds.

 This is farm land on the south west bank of the river. Here a cabbage field is left to decay back into the soil. 
 We crossed over the river on a local highway bridge. The winter color of willow and osier dogwood is subtle but lovely. 

 On the opposite bank we walked on a section of the Green River Trail. We'll call this tree Burl. 

 The path takes us along the River Bend Golf Course. 
 Ah, the finish line - back over the river to the parking lot. 

 We logged 4.52 miles. It was really 11:29, not 12:29.  My pedometer is still set on DST. 
I still had time to get home, do my floor exercises and go grocery shopping before lunch, which at our house is about 1:00. Then I started a new project, which I'll post about later. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

When Christmas is Over.....

Christmas Day began for Tom, Jan and me with a stop at the local Starbucks to pick up some lattes and thank the baristas for working on Christmas Day. Yes, we left a tip and a personal "Thank you!"

We went on our way to Jill's house, just a ten minute drive on a quiet, cold, foggy morning.  The night before, after Isaac and Irene had gone to bed, we had played Santa and arrived in our sleigh (mini-van) loaded with wrapped gifts we had been hiding away until Christmas Eve. Jill had her stash too.  We stuffed stockings and stuffed packages everywhere they would fit.

When we arrived Christmas morning, the kids were already playing with fun things they found in their stockings. We joined them. All of our stockings were well stuffed. 

Then we prepared breakfast, which was closer to brunch, since we finally sat down to the table about 10:30. Irene decorated the Swedish Wreath bread. 

Isaac and Irene had new friends. Santa seemed to find just the thing that the kids had been visiting in the stores, apparently with a little help from Jill. Irene has been hugging that giraffe in a toy store at the mall for years now. I guess that store will have to get a new pet now. 

 Tom played with his phone and Jake played with his Lego while we cleaned up. Yes, I still give my man-child a small Lego kit each Christmas. What boy doesn't like Lego. 
Then it was time for the main event, the unwrapping!

 And more unwrapping.
Some people got some special shoes.
 Irene loved the smell of her new Converse shoes. Kind of like a new car smell, I guess. 
 It was well after 1:00 by the time all of the treasures were revealed. Yes, we do know how fortunate we are to have such richness of giving and receiving.
 Tom stuffed the bird and got it on the charcoal grill for our traditional smokey turkey. 
When he sat down in a sunny corner to rest, he attracted some company. Tom relented and Mr. Whiskers settled on his lap. 
We "kids" played Exploding Kittens. No one had to wear the cone of shame for forgetting which direction we were going, but Irene was close. I exploded early and was out.
 And then I was involved in a lot of activity in the kitchen, where Jill and I prepared the rest of the traditional turkey dinner. Typically, I got no photos of that meal, of course. But I did get the dessert!
You did hear that the Sounders are the champions, didn't you? :-)

It was a very good day, and a very good Christmas pageant, through weeks of preparation, baking and decorating and shopping and festive parties and gatherings and celebrations and visits.

And now Christmas is over for another year. It always makes me a little melancholy when Christmas is over. I do love the build up and not the let down that can come after.

But I remember the song I learned from the characters on Sesame Street in their Christmas special from many years ago, a video of which we have viewed many times. The end of the song goes like this:

Christmas means the spirit of giving
Peace and joy to you,
The goodness of loving,
The gladness of living;
These are Christmas too.

So, keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
Save some Christmas cheer.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year.

Let's all hang on to the spirit of giving, the goodness of loving, the gladness of living as long as we can. 

Friday, December 23, 2016


It's the eve of Christmas Eve. All the preparations are in place.

The dining room is set up for Christmas Eve dinner
 The Swedish Cardamom Wreath bread is baked and ready for decorating on Christmas morning. I made the rest of the dough into dinner rolls, one pan for Christmas dinner, one for the freezer. 
Now we are ready for the main events!

The kids will arrive before noon on Saturday and be here with us while Jill goes to the Seahawks game and Jake works for UPS delivering last minute packages. SIL Jan will arrive sometime in the afternoon. We are hoping everyone will converge by dinner time, when salmon, crab and steak will be on the menu. 

Christmas Eve will flow into Christmas Day when we all gather at Jill's house for breakfast, gifts, playing games, napping, cooking and eating Christmas dinner. 

As I sign off for a few days, I want thank all of you out there in the 
virtual world for being such good friends. Even though we don't actually meet, I know you as real, caring, intelligent people who have enriched my life.

From my home to yours, I wish you happiness, love, and a light spirit as we celebrate our holidays, whatever and however that may be. 
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Seeking the Light

December 21, the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, the shortest day, the longest night, a time to celebrate the returning of the light. 

It was a mild, mostly sunny day here, dry, and above freezing. We had plenty to keep us busy during the day, including a good walk in the neighborhood. We decided it was the perfect time to go to see the light display at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, Garden d'Lights!

The trillium is the logo of the garden.

 There were check lists for the kids so they could search out the various animals in the garden, like this great blue heron.

 The bunny was enjoying the carrot patch. 
 A window in the old visitor's center was turned into an aquarium. 
This clump of trees was beautiful just lighted up in brilliant red. 
 Tom attempting to photograph with his cell phone so he could post on Facebook. 

 The chickens were in the corn patch. 

 Is it a monkey or a sloth?

 I know this is a magic dragon. 

 Frog and dragonflies over the pond. 

 A poinsettia tree. 
 Said the spider to the fly. 

 As Christmas day draws nigh, we are checking our lists and getting ready. As you know, the cookies are baked. The gifts are wrapped. Christmas music fills the house.  Tomorrow I'll bake the special Christmas bread.
And each day I look for the gift of that day. The big ones are easy, but some gifts are small, yet wonderful.

Wednesday as I was grocery shopping the man stocking the dairy case where I was getting eggs greeted me with "Hi. How are you." 
I responded, "Good. How are you?"

He was a large black man and in a booming voice he said "I am grand!"  My face burst into a huge smile and I said "That's a response I don't usually hear. It makes me smile!"  And then he was grinning too, and as I walked away, my step was lighter, and so was my heart. 

Simple gifts.