Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reunited and it feels so good......(humming that song)

I managed to squeeze in an hour of quality bonding time with Ellie (aka one of my sewing machines) today. We decided to try using a machine feather stitch to applique the 50-some letters that make up the sayings on the borders of my niece Maura's quilt.(picture #2) I originally started to applique them down using a hand blanket stitch with pearl cotton floss.( picture #3 - and ,yes this is the same quilt I've posted about a few hundred times already -- and I can hear you all saying -- GET IT DONE ALREADY !) Anyhow, I like the way the hand blanket stitching looks, BUT it's going VERRRRYYY SLLLLLOWLLLY . AND, I decided the hand blanket stitching might not hold up as well as a machine applique stitch. SO --- Ellie and I experimented with machine blanket stitch , machine zig zag and machine feather stitch. We decided we liked how the feather stitch looked the best -- also, since the body of the quilt is pieced like a crazy quilt and the feather stitch was one of the traditional embroidery stitches that was used on that type of quilt, it just seemed like the right choice. We were able to get 4 letters stitched down by machine in under an hour (which may not sound like I got much done, but I have to go around all those curves and circles slowly -- maybe with practice I'll get faster --- even so, it's going faster than the hand stitching was!)

Well, must zoom out to the grocery store now -- the cupboards are bare !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Missing you................

(BIG SIGH.......) Look at my lonely, sad sewing machines. There they sit all sad and dusty -- their little lights not on; their little motors not humming as they happily sew together pieces of a quilt. And why is that, you might ask ? Because , as usual, I'm chained to my desk (in the same room as my sewing machines) doing WAY too much paperwork for my job for the past too many weeks, months, years -- BLEH !!! I swear I hear those poor little machines (Betty on the left and Ellie on the right) whispering " We just want you back...... we miss you....." Hang on girls --- I'm coming ........ as soon as I finish all that paperwork, make dinner, clean it up, do some laundry, help with 8th grade algebra, help register for the SAT test, scoop out the litter box, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, .......................................................................(Another BIG SIGH.......)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy Earth Day ..... a few days late

In honor of Earth Day, this past Monday I hung sheets out on the clothes line instead of throwing them in the dryer like I usually do.(see picture below) I must say, the sheets and pillow cases never smelled so fresh ! Now, this concept isn't new to my mother , who hasn't used a dryer (or dish washer ) for at least the past 25 years. When we were all still living at home, she used both of these appliances, but when they pooped out, she never bothered to get them fixed, and never saw the need to buy new ones. She says its only she and Dad , so what does she need a dryer or dishwasher for? ...and, besides, she has always said there's nothing like the fresh smell of laundry that has dried outside on a clothesline. Actually, even when we (kids ) were still living at home, she didn't use the dryer all of the time -- I know this because I remember my mother yelling " Mary Anne it's starting to rain, come help me get the clothes off the line !!!! And I also remember helping her get the frozen sheets off the line in the winter -- stiff as a board! Now, my mother wasn't the only one who would hang clothes out to dry -- all the moms in the neighborhood did -- I didn't mind too much until I was about 13 or 14 and I realized there, hanging on our clothesline for all the world to see were our family's "gotchies" (Slovak grandma's word for underwear) --- yep -- all parading down the length of the clothesline --- my underwear, my sister's underwear, my brother's underwear, my mother's "briefs" and George's boxers (aka Dad) . JEEZE !! HOW EMBARRASSING !!! Anyhow, when I had my first apartment my senior year of college, I decided to string a clothesline across my front porch (which faced the parking lot). One beautiful spring day , I did my laundry and hung my clothes out to dry in the breeze (not my gotchies, though, -- I draw the line with public display of my gotchies) -- Later that day, my boyfriend (now husband) dropped by and ducked under and around my laundry to get to the front door of my apartment. The first thing he said was -- "what are you doing with your laundry -- this looks like a tenement ! " At the time I was mortified that people would think I'm such a hick -- and that curtailed my laundry hanging out for many, many years. I guess I didn't hang laundry out again until after our oldest son was born, and we bought our first house. But, busy-ness with work, kids, activities, etc, etc, etc, made me take the fastest laundry route - that being throwing stuff in the dryer for speed and convenience sake. But, this past Monday was such a perfect, sunny, breezy day, I couldn't resist stripping all the beds , washing the sheets and pillow cases, and hanging them out on the line. Too bad that work schedules, and Mother Nature don't cooperate more often so that I could do this on a regular basis (and do my teeny, tiny part to help save the planet ? -- I hope!)

(P.S. -- look, look at the top picture of my pretty flowers !!! I FINALLY have something blooming in my yard !) -- of course these pictures posted backwards -- I wanted the clothesline picture where the flower picture is .... oh well!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekend at Beth's - - Day 2

The day after Beth and Jenny's Bat Mitzvah , the 3 of us had a fun girls' day out in Ocean Grove, NJ. There were lots of shops with tons of fun things to try on (note picture of Beth trying on "Dust Paws" --- way too cute to ever actually dust --- and I'm talkin' about you , Bethy!!) . And of course, way too many shops offering yummy homemade goodies -- brownies, cookies, candy -- we gritted our teeth and passed on all those temptations to hold out for the best water ice I've ever had --- ( so we didn't miss the extra fat and calories -- too much......) . Anyhow, there are also many, many BIG Victorian style homes -- most are Bed and Breakfasts , I think -- really pretty ---- AND a whole bunch of teeny, tiny 1 room cottages that have tents attached to the fronts as 2nd rooms (originally built about 100 years ago as a Methodist summer church camp. Beth tells me in the summer these cottages are really cute and colorful when everybody has window boxes full of flowers and different colored awnings, etc)

Anyhow, picture #2 is of Beth and Jenny on one of the quaint streets of Ocean Grove; and the last picture is of Beth and I squinting into the sun on the boardwalk --- it was another perfect day !!! (and now I'm having a tough time adjusting back to my real world of laundry and paperwork --- BLAH !!!

By the way, Beth's mom , Harriet May Savitz is a really wonderful author of many books and essays. Click on her website and see !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Beth and Jenny's Beautiful Day

This past Saturday , on a perfect day on the boardwalk in Belmar, NJ, family and friends came to witness the Bat Mitzvah of my very good friend , Beth and her beautiful daughter, Jenny. Now Jenny is 13 , the usual age for a Bat Mitzvah -- and Beth isn't (13 that is !!) However, when Jenny began to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah (which involves many , many hours of instruction and studying of Hebrew, etc) Beth (my scatter brained pal who I met in college -- and who had not been Bat Mitzvahed when she was 13) decided she would now study and have her Bat Mitzvah with Jenny. AND............. SHE DID IT !!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA BETHY !!!!! (Beth and Jenny are pictured in the bottom picture).

In addition to learning Hebrew, etc from their instuctor , Beth and Jenny also learned how to paint on silk (their instuctor happens to be a wonderful artist.) Jenny painted her prayer shawl , which she's modeling in the 2nd picture; and Beth painted the Challah Bread cover (pictured in the 1`st picture). You should see these things in person ---- they're GORGEOUS !!!!

Following the service was a reception with all kinds of delicious FOOD !!!!! (so it was a good thing there was also a DJ who played all sorts of great music for dancing --- he even humored Beth, Robin -- another very good pal from college , -- the 3 of us are pictured in the 2nd to last picture --- and I by playing songs that we danced to in our wild and crazy college days -- including "Lido" , "It's Raining Men" and "She's a Brick House" --- OK, so I just dated us.........oops! )

Anyhow, it was a perfect day at the shore and a beautiful celebration .

CONGRATULATIONS Beth and Jenny !!!!!!!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Maybe I should hire a secretary........

Well, the work load around here has been getting more and more overwhelming -- I'm thinking of hiring a secretary ....... how about that gal sitting at the computer? She's smart, cute , creative, and athletic -- and more importantly ,she thinks I"M smart, cute , creative and athletic !!!!! ( of course she's been brain washed by me since the day she was born . ) This is my niece, Erin. Erin has a big sister , Maura (and we all know big sisters RULE !) -- both of them are in the picture from last summer (4th of July) showing the "Mug Rugs" ( a Pat Sloan wool felt pattern) that they made for their Gimma's 4th of July birthday. So....... they both can sew, (and we all know I could use some help in the sewing department --- lots of projects backed up and waiting to be sewn.....) , they're both smart (they could be not only my secretaries, but also my cub reporters for MBIAJ -- Moonbeams in a Jar) --- they're hired !!!!!

.....AND, as her first MBIAJ assignment, here is an exclusive interview by Maura with her sister Erin. Maura: Is that a new purse? (pictured on the desk by the computer). Erin: Yes, it's a Vera Bradley purse in the latest spring colors. It was a gift from Aunt Lori in Florida. It holds my webkinz, Faith and Hope. Maura: What was your favorite candy consumed over Easter? Erin: Don't ask me. Maura: I've heard that you think we need 2 more letters in the alphabet. Erin: Yes! The 2 letters are "AAAA" (a nasal sound made with mouth wide open), and "EEEE" (a sound made with eyes closed and teeth gritted).

Okee Dokey........ Look out world --- here come Maura and Erin !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What a haul of great loot !!!!!!

OK -- so self control is not one of my strong points when I'm around fabric and books (and I'm sure there are a few other items I could add to that list, but I don't want you all to think I'm a totally out of control impluse shopper....) ANYHOW, here are pictures of the GREAT fabrics, etc, I got at The Old Country Store, and the quilt show.

The last picture shows 2 feed sacks from the 1930's and 3 embroidered squares that were part of a quilt at some point (also from about the 1930's) -- and some pretty, pretty balls of embroidery floss -- which are NOT from the 1930's but I just thought they looked like they belonged in this picture. This vendor also had tons of antique quilts, including an embroidered signature quilt that also looked to be from the 1930's -- I had to FORCE myself to turn and walk away !!! My credit card was burning in my hand !! I really, REALLY would have LOVED to get that antique signature quilt -- to own a quilt with real signatures from real people --- that quilt would be a treasure to own ! Anyhow, I was thinking that the feedsacks and embroidered squares would look cute as some sort of tote bags.

As you can see, I got lots and lots of fun and pretty fabric. I bought enough of the brown and turquoise stuff to maybe make a cute summer skirt or sundress !! (aren't I ambitious?! HA!) -- oh! and I know --- A MATCHING TOTE BAG !!!! Then my mind was also wandering to the possible aprons that could be made out of that cute rooster fabric and the 1930's reproduction stuff. --- and, of course, I'm dreaming ....... of all the quilts, quilts, quilts that my fairy godmother promised to help me make (she apparantly has been on vacation for quite awhile since my UFO pile is quite LARGE !)

And then -- there are the BOOKS !!! LOVELY quilt and rug hooking books AND the newest Jennifer Chiavarini Elm Creek quilt novel !! OH how I would LOVE a vacation to just loll around in all this fabric, and then sew it into wonderful things, and relax in a bubble bath and stroll through the pages of those books ........ BAM !!! (fairy godmother just smacked some sense into my head -- dang!) The reality is, I have to work, work, work to pay for all this stuff !!!! Well, ........ that stinks! (BIG SIGH............)

Mary Anne (aka Mare) P.S.) Just wanted to say the terrrible tragedy at Virginia Tech makes me realize how comforting quilting is -- a soft spot in a very rough world. My post today, I realize is frivolous in light of all the sad events, but I also hope it provides just a bit of fun to help lighten hearts -- maybe just a little.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lancaster trip -- Day #2 (the quilt show !)

Well, in spite of the threat for a nor'easter , Mother Nature held out long enough for me to spend a good chunk of Sunday at the Quilter's Heritage Show in Lancaster (she must be a quilter !) Here are some pictures of one of the vendor booths (the bottom 2 pictures) -- I just love her quilts -- very "cottage - y" (is that a word?)

The rest of the pictures are of some of the quilts displayed at the show -- GORGEOUS !!!!

Well, hope Mother Nature wasn't too cranky in your neck of the woods (we were without power all day today -- which also meant no water or flushing toilets -- we have a well and septic system which is run by electricity -- soooooo, if the electricity is out, we're REALLY out of luck!! Nothing like taking a "bird bath" in the sink with COLD bottled water --- now that was an eye opener !! Flushing the toilets is a completely different adventure --I'll spare you the details !!! )

Anyhow, (talk about getting off the subject !) -- more pictures tomorrow (of the great loot , fabric, etc) that I got this past weekend.

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend in Lancaster (girls only ! ) -- Day #1

My sister , Karen (aka Boop since she was a baby) and I escaped to Lancaster, Pa for a girls only weekend (for the Quilter's Heritage Quilt show and some shopping and a few meals that we didn't have to plan, cook or clean up -- or listen to complaints about!) Since I was late getting there on Saturday (got held up, as usual, swamped under a ton of paperwork for my job -- then had to make a side trip to the office to drop it off -- the story of my life.....) we didn't get in to the quilt show before it closed for the day, but we DID get "down the road a piece" to the town of Intercourse to a really great quilt shop, "The Old Country Store". As you can see, there was a ton of fabric to pick from -- very hard to narrow it down....... and as you can also see, Boop, she was - a pooped! (at this point, she was saying "make up your mind already, the store's gonna be closing in 5 minutes!) . So, I made some quick decisions --- actually just got a yard of each of the bolts I made Boop carry (as she dutifully followed me around the store -- Big sisters still rule !!) and , there I am, (pink sweater and really gross hair) standing in front of the store with a rather large, heavy bag of great loot! Anyhow, with the day's mission accomplished, we finally got out for a really nice dinner at a great restaurant "Olive and Jasmine Asian Bistro" (I think that was the name of it) --- that's a picture of the dessert we shared -- I always judge a restaurant by the dessert, don't you? Anyhow, this dessert was a cappuccino flavored cake around the outside, with a chocolate/ cappuccino ice cream in the middle. All that other different colored stuff (including the "thank you" ) was tropical fruit flavored gel (mango, papaya, etc.) VERY YUMMY !!

Well, I'll post more pictures tomorrow of the quilt show (that is if our electricity doesn't go out from this nor'easter (thank goodness we've only had rain and some wind -- no snow)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Friday, April 13, 2007

TAGGED !! (by the "Old Bag" )

I'm thrilled to tell you that I've been "tagged" for the "Thinking Blogger" list by Jenny (aka "Old Bag , New Tricks"). With this little game of "tag" you're supposed to list your 5 favorite , fun, inspirational blogs that you love to visit. I told Jenny that I was speechless that she listed me as one of her 5 !! (and for me to be speechless is definately BIG !) THANK YOU JENNY !!!

Now, I get to tag 5 more people/blogs for the "Thinking Blogger" award. First of all, this is too hard to narrow it down!! See that list of "Fun Blogs" to visit -- over there on the right--> Well, they're all GREAT !!! (and I'm apologizing ahead of time if my links don't work !! -- I'm still new at the linking thing -- but this should give me some good practice!)

1) First , I'm tagging my buddy Amanda She and I got to know each other from Pat Sloan's Yahoo quilting group. Amanda and I both just recently started blogging -- we email each other back and forth when one of us figures out how to do something (like "links" for instance) -- I must say Amanda has definately figured things out and helped me more than I've been able to help her! Thanks Amanda ! Now everyone run over there and check out her fun blog !

2) Speaking of Pat Sloan I'm tagging her !! (and I know she's gonna want to strangle me because she's busy, busy, busy getting ready to leave on her Ireland trip next week and may not have time to play tag--- ) BUT she has a GREAT blog and it definately qualifies as a "Thinking Blog" -- full of fun pictures, quotes and ideas. (not to mention great quilts ,etc that she designs). Go see for yourself !

3)Next on my list is Joanna from Fig Tree Quilts. She also has GORGEOUS quilt designs and fabric. She's a new blogger too -- but, like Amanda, has figured out the technical stuff much better than me !! Now run along and see her beautiful blog !!

4) Here's another new blogger Doe (That Silly Lil Doe) Is she making some GREAT quilts or what !!! and hasn't she gotten the hang of this blogging thing pretty darn quick ! Go see !

5) Another very talented gal, (quilter, crafter, blogger ) is Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio . Quick like a bunny, hop over and check out her blog !

Well, I'm hoping all of these links worked so that you all can see what I see when I visit these fun, creative , inspirational blogs ! ENJOY !!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Evan's Confirmation Day --- FINALLY !!!

Well, having all of my teeth pulled without pain killers probably would have been less painful than dragging my kids to CCD classes every Sunday morning since they were in 1st grade --- BUT --- FINALLY --- kid #2 (Evan) made it all the way through and was confirmed today !! In the fireplace picture he's sitting with his sponsor , "Gimma" (my mother). She was also kid #1 (Matt's) sponsor 3 years ago. She may be tiny, (both boys tower over her) -- but they know not to mess with Gimma when it comes to confirmation --- so with alot of team work (me, Gimma, and the CCD teachers) , and some indigestion and the occasional migraine (for me, that is) we finally got the 2nd of my 2 kids confirmed. AMEN !!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter !!!

Here are my finished polka dot , rick rack eggs AND a little fake greenery (since it's still wintery cold here in Pa, I'm craving GREEN, and FLOWERS and spring bunnies !)

HAPPY EASTER everybody !!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Dyeing Easter eggs ...... and pancakes .....

This morning Evan helped me with dyeing the Easter eggs. Of course he couldn't just let it go at that ---- he decided Easter colored pancakes would be just the thing for breakfast. (you should see my white kitchen sink --- it's also now pretty Easter colors , too ..... GREAT !)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Friday, April 6, 2007

"Eggatha" in her Easter bonnet

Well, I'm back -- yes , 2 posts in 1 day (because I just couldn't leave out the picture of "Eggatha" AND because I know that last attempt at a "link" didn't work). Anyhow, I knew there had to be just one more use for those polka dot ribbon flowers I made last week --- they make great Easter bonnets for wooden eggs ! (or real eggs -- or ... I bet Barbie would LOVE that Easter bonnet!

OK -- here goes attempt #2 at a link -- house wren studio had some cute Easter projects on her blog . (hope that one worked!)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Decorating Easter eggs (of the wooden variety)

Evan and his buddy, Tyler, took time out of their busy schedule (dirt bike riding, and video game playing) to help me with a little egg painting. These are those cute wood eggs that you can buy at any craft store. (coloring eggs of the real , edible variety is on the agenda for tomorrow). Anyway, as you can see from picture #2 (or at leastI hope it gets posted as #2) the kids' attention span for egg painting was rather short lived when dirt bike riding beckoned them back outside ( and it wasn't even a nice day for it -- it's FREEZING COLD here in northeast Pa !) (note half painted eggs and sweet messages painted on the paper towels eg. "Evan has no brain. DUH !" that one was compliments of Tyler. Evan's charming note that he painted on the paper towel was :"Tyler is ......" the rest I couldn't read -- which is probably a good thing.) Anyhow, after I was left with some peace and quiet, I finished painting some polka dots on the eggs --- and I think I'll add that rick rack --- I think it looks kind of cute.

OK --now here's my "linking" debut .... Check out these cute fabric Easter eggs on Olive Juice Co.

Did I do that right? Huh? Huh?

Mary Anne
(aka Mare)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How about an Easter Spam? !

Here's a yummy , low budget alternative to the traditional Easter Ham --- how about an Easter Spam? I found a recipe for "Baked Spam" in my recipe notebook from Miss Richard's 7th grade Home Ec class at Tamaqua Area Junior High -- and yes, we actually had to make this stuff and eat it (while wearing our aprons with gigantic rick rack that we made in the sewing portion of home ec) Anyhow, just in case some of you like your food to maintain the shape of a can, I thought I'd pass along the recipe exactly as I copied back in 7th grade (just for fun! -- hmmm, I think I'll put this delicacy out with the real ham on Easter Sunday!)

Baked Spam

Ingredients: 1 can spam 1 tsp mustard
whole cloves 1/2 tsp vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp water

Equipment: pyrex pie pan
small size mixing bowl
pairing knife
measuring spoon
measuring cup
spoon for mixing

Procedure: 1) wash both sides of spam can
2) puncture hole in opposite end of spam can and open end with key. Place spam in
pyrex pan.
3) In small mixing bowl,combine mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar
4) score top of spam and stud with cloves
5) pour glaze over spam
6) bake at 350 degrees for 25 min.


Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

SLLLLOWLY making some progress ...(like molasses in January!)

My goal (well, one of them,) is to finish my niece's (Maura's) first Communion quilt before she gets married -- currently, she's in 6th grade (I started it as a "quick" little quilt for her first Communion gift about 4 years ago). I thought I was just about finished when I decided it needed a little more pizazz -- so I decided to add sayings to the borders of the quilt (which Maura came up with -- "fuzzy slippers, sparkly tiaras, flowered bathing caps, and chocolate" -- i.e. what does Maura love.....) Anyhow, I decided that since the borders were already on the quilt, it would be easier to hand blanket stitch the letters on (instead of trying to maneuver the quilt every which way while machine blanket stitching the letters on). Soooooo....... that comes to 54 (I think) letters to hand stitch on . Now , originally the plan was to stitch 2 letters on per day. Well, that turned out to be a little unrealistic in my world --- so, I changed it to 1 letter per day. Let's just say that hasn't quite worked out either. Right now I'm shooting for 1 letter every other day. (Today I only got half of an "i" finished , so I may have to revise my plan again!)

One of my other goals is to finish 1 crocheted granny square per week. Well, so far that plan is out the window too. That one measly granny square is going on week #2 !!! (but I'm getting faster!) -- I did get to work on it a little bit today while waiting for Evan at his orthodontist appt. The granny square craze seems to be growing. There's even an entire blog about it called "granny along" (I was going to try to learn how to "link" today, but I'm too pooped to figure it out --but look over there on my list of "fun blogs to visit" and click on "granny along"; also "wren's nest" and , "posie" -- all have granny square pictures, etc).

OK -- today making progress on hand blanket stitched letters, and crocheted granny squares --- tomorrow, learning how to FINALLY do a link in a post on this blog ??????maybe.....

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Another quiet, peaceful, relaxing Sunday spent here.......

Yes indeed --- the birds were chirping, the sun was shining, the flowers were blooming-- oh, wait, no -- that was in my imagination. My real Sunday went more like this --- the dirt bike engines (hundreds of them) were REVVING, the dust was flying, (then it rained, so the mud was flying) , and the smell of exhaust fumes filled the air. Another "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (remember that song -- I think it was a Monkees' song!) Yes -- my kids, Matt and Evan, had another dirt bike race. And, what , you're probably wondering do "Romantic Homes" magazine and "American Patchwork and Quilting" magazines have to do with a dirt bike race? My sanity !! (but these magazines are about as out of place in the dirt biking environment as the pink "I Love Lucy" sweatshirt I wore to my first race last year !!) So, using the rain as an excuse to go sit in the car during the LONNNNNGGGG 2 hour race my kids were in, I got a chance to sneak a peek at both magazines for about 2 seconds -- then my cell phone rang -- it was my husband yelling something in the phone about a something or other wrench Matt needed to tighten his thingama bob -- so I had to run and find one of the other kids on the "Pink Mohawk Race Team" to translate, and find the wrench. Then I had to run as fast as I could with it, must have been at least a quarter of a mile , to where Dave (hubby) was refueling Matt's dirt bike -- Dave and I get to be the Pit Crew -- Pink Mohawk Race Team is a low budget operation! Anyhow, good thing I threw down my Romantic Homes and American Patchwork and Quilting magazines before resuming my Pit Crew duties -- it's pretty hard to hold those , and a wrench and a gas can all at the same time. Hmmm.... ya know -- I'm thinking maybe a tattoo would boost my "tough chick" image ......

Mary Anne (aka Mare)