Friday, January 29, 2010

Baby,It's Cold Outside!

Michael thinks the folks who settled this land years ago were truly bonkers. They had to be to stay in a land where the humidity's horrendous in the summer and the temperatures plummet to the negative digits in the winter. Today, with the wind chill of -2, I'm in full agreement! LOL

The part Michael ordered for our furnace didn't work, so I had to take charge of that situation. The repairman's on his way to the house to install a new control panel and he's 99 percent sure that will take care of the issues. However, Michael is furious at me for hiring it done.

Our washing machine? Did you see that out-of-the blue comment from somebody at Sears? They offered to help with either the repair of the existing washer or give me a percentage off on a new washer. The Sears repairman is coming on Monday. If you want a chuckle - go to Youtube and look up Michael's video of the washer. It's under smudgeloco. After all this, the Sears team came through with help.

Gotten a bit more sewing done this week, but frankly the sewing room is too cool. Andrea's hijacked the space heater for her room. I sewed eight more blocks from the Civil War fabric layer cake last night - really pleased with how it looks so far.

Given all the repair issues we're having, I think it's best for my budget not to purchase any more fabric or other sewing room goodies for a while. I'd like to try my hand at knitting socks. Those of you who are sock knitters - where can I find a good, easy to understand free pattern on the internet? I have the needles, so would just need to pick up a couple of skeins of yarn for the project. I'm finding myself spending more time in the evening knitting whilst watching television. Jill's socks looked so cute, I'm inspired to try it too.

Best get back to work.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Appliance Wars - Part Deux

Michael studied the owner's manual and operating guide for our furnace, researched on line and deduced what the issue is with our furnace. He ordered the part and hopefully once it's here that will be the end of our heating woes. Sometimes it fires up, other times not, but the nots are happening more often. I still worry the part won't fix it. Stay tuned and pray that it doesn't get too cold in the house.

I phoned a repairman on Saturday and let him listen to the noises created by my 18-month-old washing machine. He informed me that he could charge me for a visit but it would be a waste of money and time. I told him the model and make and he knew what the problem is - the transmission - same thing my step-dad said. Well, I'm a bit cranky about this and have e-mailed Sears and GE. Eighteen months is HORRIBLE for a major appliance!

Our garbage disposal wasn't working either. Does this say something about us? LOL. This one, however, I could fix with Michael's directions. A pop-up thermometer from a lamb roast was wedged in the disposal.

Despite the issues created by the appliances, I managed to get a decent amount of quilting in this weekend. Finished a baby quilt for a co-worker. Cut, pieced and quilted a Valentine's Day wall hanging for my cubicle at work. Made six blocks from the Civil War fabric layer cake I purchased last week. AND got a Thimbleberries Lakeside quilt loaded onto the frame - one pass accomplished. It's kind of nice to not have deadlines for any of my projects at the moment. Had fifteen minutes to spare before driving to work this morning, so I sewed. Do you know how tough that is - only fifteen minutes? But, if I keep that habit, before long the progress will be notable - at least that is what Bonnie Hunter says.

My quality inspector, a k a Smudge, stayed curled on my lap when I did some hand sewing and knitting during the football games yesterday. Knitting with him is a bit of a challenge since he attacks the thread from time to time. He loves when I'm sewing the binding down on a quilt - it gets quite toasty for him as long as he can avoid the clips holding the fabric.

Mom was in town again - on their way back to NE Ohio from Memphis. It was nice to attend church with family. Before I left for church, Michael noted that I was wearing the gold cross necklace that he gave me for Christmas. Told him that it serves as a nice reminder, but before he could scoff too much I continued that it reminds me to pray for him. That left him speechless.

Hey, the sun is shining - first time in a week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Furnace Wars

We've had a technician from a reputable heating firm out to our house three times since last Saturday and the doofus can't figure out why the furnace won't heat up at times. It's kind of like the thing's possessed - it'll fire up and keep the house warm as toast but then whammo - the fan runs and runs, no heat comes on and it gets colder and colder in the house - usually at night. It was 55 in the house this morning - no wonder I didn't want to leave my flannel-lined bed! Well, I've phoned a manufacturer's rep for our furnace and she's on the phone with dear, sweet (cough, cough) Michael at the moment. Let's take bets on who gets the most irritated. LOL

For those who are uninitiated with Mr. Michael - let me tell you this - the man is c-h-e-a-p and he fires all contractors who don't live up to his lofty goals. This crap with the furnace and other household chores irritate him since when he was healthy he took care of it all and quite nicely too. Now, he chews on and spits out contractors. He fired the company who was refinishing our wood floors mid-way through the project last spring and didn't pay them a cent for their efforts.

Life with Mr. Michael is never dull. We received an e-mail from Michael's eldest daughter, Leah, this morning. Apparently Michael's dad is going through some tough times - his wife is very ill. Leah asked Michael to phone his dad and he's refusing to do so claiming the man is a miserable jerk and he's not going to open any communication with him just because his wife (not Michael's mum) is poorly. When the term dysfunctional family was being defined, they had the Howe family in mind. Sure makes me grateful for my family and how we care for each other.

On a more pleasant note, I got a thank you card from my old boss in the mail yesterday. He said he and his wife are searching for a quilt rack or display case to properly show off the quilt! We also got a thank you card at the office from him - thanking everyone who signed the quilt. Sounds like he liked the quilt, eh?

One of my co-workers asked me to quilt a small baby quilt she pieced and I got that on the frame and quilted last night. I should finish the binding this weekend.

No plans for the weekend other than work to keep the house warm. Perhaps Miss Andrea and I should lug some firewood into the house tonight.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THAT Kind of Weekend!

Short, even though it was a three-day deal. Probably because I was on the move or busy much of the time.

Mom and her husband stopped for an brief over-night visit on their way to Memphis. So, Saturday was spent cleaning, getting dinner ready and driving Mom to Ikea. We spent a couple of hours wandering all over that store - Mom had never been there and was amazed with the variety of merchandise and the prices. We both made a few purchases- always see something we need at that store. Then, it was on to home for a dinner I made from recipes found in "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" - enchiladas and home-made salsa. Also had an apple cake that's always a hit.

After Mom and Ken left Sunday morning I went to church and Joann Fabrics - yet another sale on Debbie Mumm fabric. Picked out some really cute cat fabric and kitcheny stuff from that line, a couple skeins of yarn and a few odds and ends. Back home to sew - finally got some sewing done - quilting finished on a new wall hanging for the breakfast nook and pieced a few snowballs. Did a quick tidy-up on the sewing room too.

I promised Andrea we'd go to the outlet mall on Sunday afternoon. Despite the rainy weather, we ventured forth (it's an outdoors mall) Andrea found some real bargains at Rue 21 and I picked up some future Christmas gifts at Yankee Candle.

Yesterday was a real treat for me. I met Linda at Riley's in Greenhills for breakfast. We were talking so much it's a miracle either one of us consumed our food! The Quilt Bug in Indiana was our first target - they had a grand re-opening in their new location. I bought 14 fat quarters for a good start on the fabric for my Judy Martin Log Cabin and a pattern for a candle mat. The Quilt Bug has a nice selection of Civil War reproduction fabric and has great prices on their kits. Trust me, I was tempted. Perhaps next visit.....Linda talked me into going to another quilt store - Valley Quilts in Trenton. (I talked myself into going is more like it. Our furnace at home was still not working!) I was less restrained in that store. Purchased some more fat quarters for the Log Cabin, a charm pack of MODA Valentine's Day fabric, a Layer Cake of Civil War fabric and 2 1/2 yards of backing for a baby quilt that's nearly done.

Linda mentioned her plans to relocate soon to a warmer climate near her parents. I will miss our get-togethers, but I'm certainly not losing a friend. The internet's great for keeping in touch. Not losing a friend, but gaining a vacation spot - LOL! And learning about new shops for future enabling sessions.

Aforementioned furnace was serviced on Saturday afternoon - the technician could find nothing wrong with the ignition system despite what we told him. Michael couldn't get the furnace to fire up yesterday until noon. I phoned the company about our situation and they sent another technician who found a potential problem, corrected it and warned us if that didn't do the trick, we'd need a $600 part! OUCH! The technician also advised us that part of the problem with the heat fluctuating in the house is the crappy thermostat we have. Exorcism is not an option, so it's off to Home Depot for a do-it-yourself thermostat. At least we didn't have to pay for the second house call.

Adding to the fun and frolic with major appliances was the washing machine. It works, but the noise! We should have it serviced sometime this week.

Tattoo Boy sent me a text message yesterday morning stating that he needed to talk with me. Those type of messages are usually 1. I need money, 2. My car's not working and I need money or 3. I need more art supplies for school and I need money. (You get the picture!) He and three others have found an apartment near campus. They've signed a lease and (you guessed it) he needs a little help with his share of the security deposit and first month's rent. The bank of Mom agreed with the promise to repay by early summer when his landscaping job kicks in. It'll be so much easier for him to be near campus with his crazy class schedule. Plus, I get the spare room back for our guests.

It sure feels like a Monday and I can't wait to get back home. I'm one pass on the frame away from having the quilting done on a baby quilt. Once that's done, I want to piece a couple more nine patches for the snowball quilt and start cutting fat quarters for the Log Cabin. Oh, and my "spy" (a k a Mom) in Memphis told me the bride and groom are using autumnal colors for their bedroom. I KNEW I'd like making their quilt - pattern is Jared Takes A Wife from Quiltville.


Friday, January 15, 2010

TGIF and Odd 'N Ends

It's always easier to get out of bed on Fridays. Even little Miss Daisy found it easier to get going - probably because we're having a "heat wave" of 40 degree weather. And despite a half-hearted plea from Andrea to trade places with Smudge for the day, she went to school after I told her if said trade happened she'd have to use the litterbox and hack up hairballs whilst Smudge ruined her GPA in math and English.

My sister-in-law has managed to find all but one of her friends in Haiti. One friend has lost a child, all have lost their homes. The horrors those people are facing are truly unimaginable. Please keep them in your prayers.

Got in fifteen minutes of sewing before leaving the house for work this morning. The hard part is stopping.

In a few minutes I'm driving to Seams Sew Easy and paying for a quilting class to be held next month. It's the same quilting class by Julie Lambert that I missed in late October when I had my surgery. Only SSE is far, far closer to the house than the shop in Dayton. Things worked out well in that area.

Michael has behaved himself the last few days. I think he realized how much he irritated the gals in Chez Howe. He's been sending me e-mails asking how my day is going, calling me cute little English names (Fair Maid, Little Sausage, etc.) AND he's been doing a few easy housework tasks. Instead of avoiding chores all together, he's discovered he can do stuff, all-be-it at a slower pace and still be OK as long as he doesn't have to bend over. Perhaps there's "hope" for him yet. At least until the next time he gets angry with his situation...........In the meantime, we're doing OK. Just don't trip on his oxygen tubes stretched all through the house.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three Down!

The fact that I completed three blocks for the Snowball quilt last night is utterly fantastic! Considering I left the office late, went shopping at Krogers, cooked dinner, ate dinner, read e-mails and started a load of laundry before I sat down to sew - I'm well pleased. Finishing six each month is going to be easy. Once the fabric's cut - it sews together quickly.

At the moment, I have a wall hanging on the frame, two baby quilts ready to go on the frame, the beginning stages of the Snowball quilt sewn together with tons of squares lined up for said project, the Nickel quilts Shoo-Fly pattern is open on the work table and plans are being made for the purchase of some Civil War reproduction fabric for one of Judy Martin's log cabin quilts. I think that's more than enough to keep me occupied in the sewing room for the winter.

Unfortunately, I won't get much sewing done this weekend, especially on Saturday. I have an appointment to donate blood, the furnace guy is going to perform an exorcism on our heating unit/thermostat, and my mother and her husband are arriving for a short over-night visit. I fully intend on watching the football games (Go Vikings!) on Sunday. One good thing - I have Monday off! Meeting Linda for breakfast and then on to Quilt Bug to fondle the fabric.

Andrea may be joining us for the foray into Indiana. Any excuse to get her out of the house and away from Michael is a good thing for her these days. (She's still not talking much to him, which is understandable since the man has yet to deliver on his promised apology.) I also like having her show any interest in fabric/quilting. It's like handing down a legacy my grandmother shared with me so many years ago. Perhaps someday she'll want to sew. For now, I'm happy she helps me pick out patterns and colors.

P.S. Before I get "smacked" for the "Go Vikings! comment, let me explain. My new boss is from St. Olaf, MN and is a dyed-in-the-wool Vikings fan. My life will be SO much easier if they win. Plus, my Steelers aren't in the mix this year - a rare event. I need to find SOME TEAM to watch. Well, OK I like the Colts too, right Jennifer?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm IN!

OK Linda and Regina. I'm in with the virtual sewing project. Already have the Shoo-Fly pattern in the Nickel quilts book too! Got loads of five inch squares already cut too. The Snowball quilt will be perfect for the Figgy Pudding jelly roll that I already have. Thanks gals, for helping to lift me out of the doldrums.

Here's what I think happened: I compromised myself. I haven't been to church since Christmas - I think going to church helps foster a more positive attitude. Back to service for this girl! And I've been so busy taking care of Michael, Andrea and Tattoo Boy, there's been little time for myself. I won't give up on taking care of my little family, but I need to do more for myself. And if that means quilting then so be it. I can reach a "happy medium" most nights when I spend an hour in the sewing room and then watch television or play Wii games with Andrea for the remainder of the evening. I did that last night and it worked out well.

I need to tackle my issues head on and I believe that I completed a couple of huge steps forward yesterday by having a frank discussion with Michael and contacting the furnace repairman. Michael gets so frustrated by not being able to do all the chores he used to and hates, hates, hates paying a specialist to do them. Well, sorry, but I am not going to let the furnace issues we're having deteriorate to the point where we wake up one morning with icicles stuck to our noses. It's either I have to do it or hire somebody to perform the task. Michael has to get used to that.

The other thing Michael has to watch is how his anger is affecting the rest of us. Yes, he's dying and he has every right to be mad as hell about it. It bothers him to no end that he won't be able to leave money to his children after his death. I need to remind him that his "legacy" is much more than financial gain. It's how people will remember him after he's gone. Would he want Andrea to remember him as being an angry, bitter man who never had a kind word for her? Or would he wish her memories to be pleasant and full of love. If he left this world today, I'm afraid Andrea's memories of her step-dad would not be happy ones. He needs to work on that.

Thanks for "listening". Back to "quilty" thoughts soon. Promise.


Monday, January 11, 2010


I'm finding it difficult to get motivated to work on anything in the sewing room at present. For one thing, it's colder in that room since I keep the door shut much of the time to keep Smudge from terrorizing the stash. (i.e. sleeping on the fabric and getting black cat hairs all over it.) Darling husband bought a space heater for me and that helps if I remember to turn it on about an hour before I need to be in there.

Then again, perhaps it's because I don't have any project that is truly pressing at the moment. I finished the piecing on baby Jackson's quilt yesterday - on to the frame perhaps tonight. An acquaintance at work gave me a baby flimsy to quilt for her too.

I got the Judy Martin log cabin book in the mail on Saturday and I've read a few pages of the book. Not sure which pattern to set to first - they're all so fascinating. And I can see now I probably will need a design wall of sorts eventually.

Whatever the cause of my lack of sewing room production, I know it's influenced by the winter doldrums. The holidays are over - not much planned in fun activities. Andrea and Michael aren't speaking to each other - teenager sensitivity added to bull-headed Englishman - DON'T EVEN GO THERE. Tattoo Boy had his birthday party in the garage on Friday - I am still recovering from that. (I just wonder how MUCH beer was consumed vs spilled during the pong competition!) Poor Daisy huddles under any quilt or afghan she can find. Smudge? He discovered last night that one can lay in front of the fireplace and be quite cozy.

I managed to get most of the holiday decor packed and stored in the shed for another year - always a task I dread. The house looks so bare!

Perhaps I should get into the sewing frame of mind and get a couple of new wall-hangings done for the family room and kitchen? That's the ticket!

We (me, Andrea and Michael) went to see "Avatar" on Saturday night. It took Michael a while to recover his breathing after his brief time outside. He thoroughly enjoyed that film in 3-D, so it made all the lung trauma worth it for him. The film was entertaining and probably the most unique cinematic work I've seen in a long time. No wonder it's still number one at the box office.

I'll post more later. Hoping to get some sewing done tonight!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Ohio In The Winter
It's winter in Ohio,
And the gentle breezes blow,
Seventy miles an hour,
At twenty-five below.
Oh how I love Ohio
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Ohio,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground.
- Anon
That pretty neatly sums up my life in the last few days. Cancelled schools, blowing snow, a furnace that struggles to keep the house warm.
Ah, but all is roasty, toasty in the sewing room with my new space heater. Just close the door and I'm set for hours! Until my family discovers where I'm hiding! They open the door and state their reasons for disturbing my solitude. And for stupid things too. "I'm hungry. When's dinner?" "We're outta milk." "The cat puked on the floor." "Daisy won't go outside - the snow's up to her belly." (translation, mom needs to shovel a path) or my all-time favorite - "I'm bored."
Needless to say, my suggestion that boredom is best solved by using a snow shovel falls on pretty deaf ears. The whining stops however.
Michael moved part of his railroad layout into my dining room from the garage. I know the cold air makes it impossible for him to be in the garage. But, MY dining room? The nicest room in the house? Somehow an O gauge layout looks like g-a-r-b-a-g-e next to my cherry china cabinet. I'm told it's just temporary.
When does spring arrive?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow and Goal Setting

One of these days I have to realize that these SOUTHERN Ohioans did not have the pleasure of living in NORTHEAST Ohio as I did. But, seriously, come on! How can a dusting to an inch of snow cause such utter chaos on the traffic in Cincinnati? Andrea's school was even postponed for two hours this morning. HUH? In order to cancel/postpone school when I was growing up, there had to be AT LEAST a foot of snow on the ground. I shudder to think what would happen around here if a snowstorm would hit like the one during my senior year in high school. Schools closed for a week then in Massillon. Here, they'd shut for a month, no store would have any milk, toilet paper or bread, and the National Guard would be activated.

Now that I have that out of my system and my new boss has forgiven me for being late this morning, I'll go on to another topic. My company has created a new fitness policy that if you walk XX number of steps over the course of the year, they will reward you with VISA gift cards and other goodies. Great incentive and it fits in nicely with my fitness goals for the new year. The catch is you have to purchase a programmable pedometer. Money motivates, so I'll soon have the price of that pedometer, plus more in my pocketbook! Then it struck me, why not have a secondary goal of walking in a 5 K event this year. The next Race for the Cure event in Cincinnati is September 25 - plenty of time to get fit and ready! Sounds like an excellent goal for me!

All was not a total loss this morning, however. I used the extra time at home waiting for Andrea's bus sewing a few blocks for Jackson's baby quilt.